In 2020, while many public school students learned virtually from home, my children—who had been homeschooled their entire life up to that point—were happily learning in a private school our family had recently discovered.
The past few years have been full of surprises, challenges, and sometimes a little irony for families navigating education decisions. But, even before COVID-19, my experience over the years as a parent of three has shown me how surprisingly impactful a learning environment can be. In fact, if I knew when I first started school searching what I know now, I may have made some different choices along the way. This School Choice Week (Jan. 23-29), we should be spreading the word in our communities about all the choices and scholarship opportunities families can access.
From the start, I wanted a private school education for my children, so that they could receive an upbringing steeped in the values and beliefs our family holds. But because we didn’t know how we could afford private education, and I loved being a stay-at-home-mom, we decided to homeschool, choosing a curriculum that matched our family’s values.
Homeschooling was a beautiful choice for us, giving me the intimate experience of seeing how each of my children learns differently. My daughter’s communication skills lead her to make YouTube videos. One of my sons loved building and rebuilding Legos creations. Homeschooling also gave us the flexibility to travel on mission trips, developing a family culture focused on service and leadership.
But, shortly before COVID-19, we re-examined our kids’ schooling options. More than ever, we wanted our growing children to have opportunities to step out and show leadership in a bigger learning environment than our home. For the first time, we visited schools and began actively asking about financial assistance. When we visited a close-knit school that had “Leadership” in its very name, it felt like the perfect next step.
Through speaking with the school, we learned of the AAA Scholarship program available in Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and Georgia, which has proved a godsend, helping fund tuition for all three of our children. While we enjoyed homeschooling, my kids have been absolutely delighted by and thriving in their new experience of school classrooms, sports teams, and other teachers.
I encourage all parents: Please don’t be afraid to visit schools, ask questions, and learn. If I had known about opportunities like the AAA Scholarship program earlier, my family might have switched to private school sooner. I am so grateful for this scholarship, and want to spread the word to other families that choices like this exist.
Ironically, during the coronavirus pandemic, our children—homeschooled their whole life—were able to keep learning safely at their private school, even as many public school students began learning from home. Today, our kids are still thriving in private school, taking the discipline and study habits they learned in homeschool to become leaders in their new environment.
Homeschooling, private schooling, and other educational options each offer something unique to families. What works for one family—or even one child in one family—may not work well for others. What works for a time may not work well forever. School choice embraces these differences, allowing parents to find a school that matches the needs and mission of each child and each family and each chapter of life. School Choice Week celebrates the opportunities that thousands of students, like my three children, have experienced through school choice. It also seeks to share with parents about each of the options available to them, like the AAA Scholarship. Intentionally choosing a child’s education provides an incredible opportunity for parents to understand their child’s learning needs and support them in becoming future leaders. Let’s spread the word about school choice so that all kids can be in a learning environment that makes them fully alive.