Growing up in my household there was always a strong emphasis on education and the value of having a good education. My mom and my stepfather were examples to my brothers and I of what was attainable with a good education. Although they didn’t necessarily take the traditional route, they both went to college and thus emphasized getting good grades and studying. At the time I didn’t think much about it. I just felt that it was my job to do well in school and please my parents with good grades. As I matriculated through college and matured into an adult I grew to appreciate what they had instilled in me. Through their gentle nudges and concerning questions I too grew to appreciate the opportunities that an education could afford.
Now that I am a parent I want to be able to give my son those same opportunities and allow for him to experience even more than I did. That is why I exhausted nearly every option when trying to identify a school for him when he entered kindergarten.
When I was in about 5th grade my brother and I transferred to a very diverse elementary school. It was something that was difficult at first but it opened us up to people and ideas that we would have never received at our previous neighborhood school. We were two children from the far southside of Chicago- Roseland to be exact- that ended up in a school in Bridgeport. These communities were polar opposites in many respects. It was at our new school that we learned about and celebrated Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, and a host of other culturally significant events.
From the beginning of this journey called parenthood I had predetermined that I wanted my son to have an even better educational experience than I had. So I had created a mental checklist of school requirements. Some of the requirements were the school needed to be outside of our South Shore community, it should cater to various learning styles, be culturally diverse, and a host of other things that I had decided were vital to his growth and development.
The process of finding and applying for kindergarten in Chicago is a part-time job in and of itself. That is if you are looking for something non-traditional in nature; which usually equates to outside of your respective neighborhood. In total I applied to 2 private schools one of which had a $100 non-refundable application fee, (when did elementary schools start charging college applications fees, geesh) 2 Charter schools, 6 selective enrollment schools (testing required for admittance), 10 Magnet Schools, and 10 miscellaneous schools. I’m getting tired just thinking back on the process. But it was worth it to ensure that my son had viable options and that we were able to play a part in making that decision. I believe that it is every parents dream to give their child better than they had- not that I had a lackluster educational experience.
At the end of that process my son was accepted into 7 of those schools that we applied for. He did not get into all of them because of the randomized lottery process which can sadly leave some without a school of choice. But he ended up getting into one of the Magnet Schools which I have since been told is harder to do than actually winning the state lottery, lol! It is a great school and it has everything that was on my list with some added bonuses!
This educational journey is never-ending; I recently attended a school fair in which I scouted out perspective high schools for my now 5 year old (lol). Some might say that he’s only in kindergarten, to which I would say it’s never too early to start looking and setting goals for a brighter future.
Latest posts by Terea Murphy (see all)
- Mom of Kindergartner Shares Why the Educational Journey Is Never-Ending - November 16, 2015