Our own custodial situation is a bit different, though we have managed to maintain a good degree of friendliness and amicability, sharing birthdays, dinners, etc. Location is the biggest difference. BF and I have remained in the same general area that he and his ex lived in pre-divorce, in fact, we're seriously considering moving back into the home that BF and his ex purchased together (yeah, I thought they sold it too, I'll explain later). However, LM's mom has no intention of living in the suburbs; she's decided to become a city dweller. She's living in the 'burbs now, but isn't pleased with that and is planning on moving before LM enters kindergarten. This leaves us in a bit of a quandary. We already live in different school districts a good distance from one another and when she moves it will be about a forty-five minute drive between us. So, it doesn't really seem to make much sense for either parent to have such a long drive to get the kid to and from school for half of the week.
As a result of all of this, we've been looking at private schools. The problem is that while were solidly middle-class, we can't afford to pay $20k a year for elementary school. In addition to that $20k a YEAR for ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!!! I'm morally opposed to the utter ridiculousness of that. I didn't even pay $20k a year for college! So we've found some Montessori schools that fall into the "affordable" category, but we still have some reservations about the amount of academic success that they are going to provide and the school that we like does seem a bit run down.
The other option that we've uncovered seems like a real gem. It's only $4k a year. It's a National Blue Ribbon School. It's Middle States Accredited. All of the teachers are state accredited and participate in Act 48, which requires that teachers get additional education every few years to keep up-to-date with the latest teaching methods. In addition to that, this school is in an ideal location for both of us to get him there easily. Lots of plusses, right?
Well, there's one big problem. It's a Catholic school. None of this little boys parents are down with JC, let alone the Catholic Church. In fact, I would definitely say that we're at the opposite end of the spectrum on most issues - take assisted reproduction, premarital sex, contraception, stem cells, and homosexual marriage as just a few. The school doesn't seem to stress religion as much as living a Christian life, but I wonder about the reality of that situation. I wonder if he's would feel like the odd one out, especially when the other kids are having their first Communion or Confirmation. I also wonder how much we're going to have to re-teach at home. Not that I think it's a bad thing to (gasp!) actually have to teach your kids yourself, I just worry about the "But my teacher said..." factor. And I don't think it would be a bad thing if LM were to end up believing in some higher power, I just don't want that to be a result of our decision to give him a Catholic education. I think that theological exploration is an important part of figuring out who you are, but I don't think that elementary school is the right place or age for that kind of contemplation and I don't want his religious decisions to be the result of being programmed as a child. That being said, I also see it as a great opportunity to teach him to be a skeptical consumer of education, to learn that not everything that we're taught in the classroom is fact and that examining that information and deciding what we find to be truth is an important part of the learning process.
To make this decision even more difficult, when we started looking at Montessori schools, one of the big attractions was that he could start attending in the fall for pre-K and not have to change schools again until after elementary school. Now our little guy has had quite a few school changes in the last couple years. He's gone to two different schools and then no school during the time he's with BF and I and from his mom's house he's stayed home with family, gone to one school in the city, another in the 'burbs, which he's grown really attached to, and now he's scheduled to start at a different school downtown, closer to where his mom works, when the school he's in now lets out for the summer. He's resistant to the idea of leaving the school he's in now, but that's an inevitability - it's over priced and too far away from any of his parents while he's there. He only has one friend that he speaks of there and one of the places that he could use some help advancing (as is true with so many intelligent little people) is in his ability to socialize with children his own age. I'm hoping that once he's settled in with one group of kids that he can stick with, he'll be more apt to make some friends.
So the issues between the two schools, as I see them, are that the first offers an excellent academic curriculum, but doesn't have a preschool or a summer program, and that it offers a religious education. The second offers an alternative education and curriculum that centers on the child's interests and learning through various styles, he'll be with the same group of people from September through the end of sixth grade, including the summer, but the technology, facilities, and teaching equipment were old and unimpressive and they don't have the highly credentialed academic program that the other does and that we feel LM deserves.
So please feel free to weigh in as to what you would do here or what you think about our little conundrum. Goodness knows, we don't know what to do yet. I'll keep you updated as to what we're going to do or any other options that arise.
Oh and regarding the house, which I promised to get back to, I'll explain, but not today. Suffice to say, we may be moving back in as soon as we can. Fun stuff!