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  • Writer's pictureVicky Keston

Parenting among the critics

“You cannot put your kids in the public schools here!” “You must put your kids in a public school or you are hurting the community!” “You must figure out school for your one year old now!” “Your kids will be at a disadvantage if you don’t choose the right school!”

Choosing a school can feel like crossing a land mine. For every type of school, someone thinks it is the right choice, and someone else thinks it is the absolute worst. Between social expectations and the plethora of unsolicited advice, and the stress mounts on what is the right thing.

The premise of telling other people how to parent is no more reasonable when choosing a school than when choosing breastfeeding vs. bottle, cloth diapers vs disposable, epidural vs. non-medicated birth. And yet people do. Frequently. Tell you what you must do. Judge you.

Each of us has our own values, priorities and needs.

And yet, the commentary in some online parenting groups shows harsh judgment. To the critics, remember that you don’t know someone else’s story. That what works for your family might not work for others. That societal impact of decisions might matter, but every family has to weigh their own situation. That kindness always matters, and that showing disagreement can be done with this value in mind.

Tune out unsolicited advice. Think about how you feel about the alternatives, your own family priorities, and how you think your child will fare in different environments. Every family has their own societal values, and these are also important to think about. Every child has their own needs, and some children are easier than others.

Take it one chunk of time, elementary or middle or high school or preschool. What is best for your child can be different during each period. No decision is forever. While certain years are easier for finding a seat, you can move a child later. Don’t put too much pressure on your decision

Where your child attends kindergarten will not limit your child’s college options. Not only can your child apply to “elite” high schools from a variety of middle schools, but colleges look for students from a variety of schools, including urban public schools, private schools, and charter schools. What’s in common, students have the most success when, in addition to academics, achieved outside of school, whether through leadership, invention, or other contribution. In summary, your child will do best at a school where they feel welcome and where the school brings out the best in your child. Not every school is for every child, and the school where your child is happy is priceless.

Need more help?

Vicky consults with families to help select public and private schools in San Francisco in an environment of non-judgment. Email to learn more about her services.

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