Smart kids are more likely to make smart money decisions!
Ultimately school choice for our children starts by creating a home environment that’s dedicated to learning.
Instilling in our children a passion for education is the greatest gift we can give them. Toys will break, clothes will wear out, school days will fade into the past, but people who are willing to learn—to dig, seek, and see life as the consummate classroom—will be able to handle most anything that comes their way.
By high school graduation our kids will have spent more than 13,500 hours in school. That’s the equivalent of 6.8 years of working a full-time job! With this amount of time devoted to education, we wanted to help them get the best education for the time they spent in and out of school. Making the school point one of the four daily points in our MoneySmart Kids system allowed us to encourage our kids to not merely endure school but to excel in their academics and to embrace learning—even if it was a struggle.
For our family, learning started at home at the earliest ages. But when it came to actual school attendance options, we weighed not only the educational value and financial costs, but also the unique needs of each child.
Factors in Making School Choices
We live in an awesome time where there are numerous choices for educating our kids. In our area, we have great public schools, excellent private schools, a diverse set of charter schools, the freedom to homeschool, and numerous tutoring options. Finding the right situation, tailored to your child’s learning style and your family’s finances, is well worth the effort.
Let Your Finances Be Your Guide
Years ago Steve worked for a small advertising agency that eventually went out of business. By all appearances the owner was doing well financially—he drove a Porsche, lived in a nice home, and his kids attended private school and an extremely prestigious dance school. Over time we learned the true state of Keith and Gracie’s (not their real names) finances and actually ended up financially coaching them. Amazingly, as we revealed their inability to afford their grand lifestyle, they simply couldn’t or wouldn’t let go of many of the trappings they loved. Eventually their home was taken from them, the Porsche was returned, but the tuition payments and dance lessons continued, even though their income was inadequate to fund either. They struggle to this day.
Another family we know of found themselves in a similar situation— reduced income and excessive private school tuition costs. But they made ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼a very different choice. They, too, wanted an excellent education for their children. But realizing their income restrictions, they decided to research the public schools in their area, sell their home, and move to one of the best nearby public school districts. The parents volunteered at the school and helped their kids with homework. All of their kids did extremely well and graduated successfully.
Many states allow students to attend the school of their choice through open enrollment programs. This may be a less expensive option than selling your home and moving, but you should also consider drive time and gas prices when weighing this type of decision.
If your budget can’t afford an expensive education option, don’t teach your kids that debt is the solution. Research the best options you can afford and teach your kids that creativity and commitment provide the best education.
Materialism and Peer Pressure
If you’re going to raise MoneySmart kids, you’re going to have to prepare them to stand against the affluence or indulgence they’ll encounter at school. Even if you don’t live in an affluent area, there will always be other kids in your children’s life that have the most desirable new “thingamabob,” and it will have a costly influence on them—and you. Your kids have to be okay with where they are financially, which means that you’ve got to be okay with it too.
Living in swanky Scottsdale, Arizona, we are well aware that it’s not easy to live or go to school amidst affluence. We have taught our kids that all of the outward trappings they see are not necessarily a true indication of the financial health or happiness of their friends. Preparing our kids to be okay with who they are financially can have a huge impact on their future.
Children Are Unique
Most schools are set up to educate a large number of students, with similar intelligence levels, in an efficient manner. If you have a child with special gifts or hindering deficits, you may need to think about education differently. Children who are extremely intelligent, hyperactive, have reading disorders, or suffer from learning disabilities may not thrive in a larger school setting. Getting our children into an environment where they can reach their potential and thrive may require extra time, money, and sacrifice on our part.
Knowing your child’s abilities and “dis-abilities” will help you make better school choices for them (and you). If your children have any type of learning disability or delay and they are in a more traditional school, you’ve got to be involved and ensure that they get the help they need.
When it comes to making school choices for your children, remember that those decisions may change from year to year. How have you prayed over making the right school choice with each of your children?