Moms Talk is part of a new Vienna Patch initiative to reach out to moms and families in Vienna.
Grab a cup of coffee and settle in as we start the conversation today with a topic many parents are discussing around this time of year: what schools and what programs to choose for their children.
It's a debate that starts as early as preschool: Should we send the kids to private or public school? Will they get what we need? Is the cost of private school a smart investment when we'll be paying for college tuition in just a few years? What if my child isn't challenged? What are the pros and cons of a more rigorous course load? What about home schooling?
About one of every six residents in Fairfax County is a public school student, according to Fairfax County Public Schools. The school system, the 11th largest system in the country, has earned national recognition for high student achievement. Of 196 schools or centers, 48 are alternative programs or learning centers.
In the county system, children can be tested in first grade to enter the Advanced Academic Level IV (formerly known as gifted and talented) programs on a part-or full-time basis. There are additional honors options throughout elementary and middle schools. In high school, they can apply to the Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology, or elect to take Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses.
Some children in Fairfax County never enter the public school system at all. Some are homeschooled. Some are put into private schools that offer full-day kindergarten.
Other students leave the system in middle and high school for private schools in Virginia, Washington, D.C., or Maryland (The Duke Ellington School of the Arts and The Potomac School are two frequent choices). Some parents of these students have said FCPS focuses too much on the standards of learning (SOL), which takes valuable time away from intuitive learning, or learning via non-classroom activities like robotics, music, science and art.
Other parents enroll their children elsewhere because they want a lower student to teacher ratio, or, a school that better fits with their child's special needs.
As enrollment season begins, how do you choose what is best for your child?