Commuting to Get to School
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Commuting to Get to School
I am hoping to get a little bit of perspective and
feedback. We are currently trying to decide between 2
schools for our son. He has been in private Montessori
since he was 3 and currently he is in 1st grade.
Unfortunately our school isn't doing well and we need to
change. We found an alternative we love, also private(not
snob at all), but solid, and that is k-8 that would
require a 20mn/30mn commute.
I was ready and prepared for it but then our son's name
came up in the lottery at the local Montessori charter.
10mn from home and free. However, it's only been around
for a few years and while it's doing well, it probably is
It's a complicated decision to make because the tuition
saving would in fact make a difference to us, yet we don't
want to make such an important decision based on that.
I would love to hear both experiences from people in
charter school and also people who commute with their kids
for school, and do so only because of the school.
We commuted for years (25-30 minutes one way) to a private
school. This year we switched to our local public schools.
We think it is great, in no small part due to the commute.
The kids spend less time in the car, and therefore have more
time for free play, for activities/sports/lessons, for
sleep, for homework, for family time. The adults spend less
time in the car, and therefore have more time for
volunteering, for yoga lessons, for work, for sleep, for
family time, for responding to BPN posts. The commute is
twice as long for the driver -- both ways every time.
I did find carpooling fun. A great way to get to know
people. But it wasn't always reliable, which is a bummer if
the career/job is demanding. Getting to school meetings was
also a bear, and contributed to poor attendance at these
meetings. Sadly, this created a bit of friction.
Some other plusses I didn't expect: My kids are able to get
themselves to and from school. This has given my kids a real
sense of confidence and school pride. My kids are in 5 and
7th grades. Being involved in our local community has felt
really good. I am impressed with our public schools in ways
that I didn't know I would be. And there is the obvious --
gas is getting more and more expensive.
Good luck in your decision,
Have you researched the charter school? Met the principal,
understand/agreed with his/her philosophy. Gotten feedback
on the teachers. The students at charter schools are going
to be the children of parents who are engaged. A good thing.
Personally, if it seems like a fit, I would give it a try.
Seems like a dream to have the school so close to you.
Instead of commuting, you'd be able to spend 2+ hours a week
contributing to the school. Engaged parents are so
important for making a school what it is. PTA, engaging with
principal, teachers, etc.
charter school believer
Our children attend a local charter school. It is a short
drive from our house, but many families commute long
distances to attend it. It's a great school, but I don't
think it's worth it to spend what adds up to quite a few
extra hours each week in the car. Whenever I meet a new
kindergarten family that lives 30 minutes away, I know they
probably won't last through second grade. That's two hours
each day in the car! It takes a big toll over the long run.
As a kid, I attended a middle school that was an 8-mile
traffic-filled commute, and I hated all the time spent on
the commute! I'd go to the local school, where you will be
able to volunteer more easily and thus feel more of a
The closer, the better
I forgot to add my general thoughts on charter schools! Of
course, they are all different. Our school is relatively
new, and there are always growing pains. Things change
every year, generally for the better, but not always . . .
and it helps if you take a long view, go with the flow, and
feel comfortable with a bit of experimentation. They may
not have all the bells and whistles that you would get at a
regular public school (ours does not have instrumental
music, for example), and because they are public, are
subject to the same budget cuts that affect all public
schools. Presumably, they have some focus that is the
reason you're there (for us, it's the family-friendly
homework policy; for you, it sounds like the Montessori
curriculum). Personally, I think kids get so much more out
of a public school experience than they would at a private
school, but that's my own personal bias.
Fan of the local public school
This one is easy: Take the school that is closer and less
money. Not only will you save yourself tuition, but you
will save: gas money - stress driving - wear and tear on
car - and - you will be more able to build friends and
community for your child. (and money is not a bad reason
to decide, by the way, saving money means more money to
spend on your own kid if needed....)
Sorry to chime in late. Commute or pick a local school in
our experience depends on the possibility of finding a good
fit for your unique child in a local school. What does your
child need to thrive, and can you find that close by? In
our experience, there are things which can make a good local
fit difficult. We have a kid with anxiety disorder who only
thrives in a tiny school where he is not afraid of the other
children. After 2 other local school tries, we found one
where our child has been gloriously happy - a 20 minute
drive away. And if children have special needs, ranging from
learning or behavior challenges to the profoundly gifted, a
drive might be well worth while.
Gotta find a good fit for each child
this page was last updated: Mar 25, 2013
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