A lot of it depends on your kids. What are their needs? What do they like to do? Do they have, even at young ages, a decided bent or inclination? Are they academically gifted? Any special needs? It is important that you notice what they might like to do, or where they might go with a career, even if they are young.
Example: My youngest likes comedy. She likes standing up in front of people and delivering comedy. She is a very good reader, likes to learn Spanish (pretends she is a Telemundo news announcer:rolleyes: ), but when work comes calling for math, suddenly her hands “hurt” and it becomes time for a a bathroom break. Now, she is in first grade in a Catholic school with a very small student:teacher ratio, that has a fine arts program including music lessons, acting lessons, art appreciation and hands-on art. Even at this young age, she notices boys, sometimes getting giddy around them, and sometimes punching them.
If she were to suddenly shoot up tomorrow and be in ninth grade, I would either send her to our local Catholic all-girls’ high school or move to get her into one of the Chicago magnet schools that provides arts’ training, esp. International Charter. Why? Both the all-girls’ school and International Charter have speaking opportunities and fine arts programs not offered by the co-ed Catholic high school in our suburb, or for that matter, the two public high schools. The foreign language opportunities are also better for her in those two schools, and there is an IB program.
Her sister is a bit of a dreamer, very good at building things, tends to have to have control over the situation, very good reader, into Science, can accurately draw and sketch objects. She can be bossy and demanding of other children. Her best friends are boys. If she grew suddenly to ninth grade age, I would enroll her in a dual high school-college program at a charter or magnet school, or send her to the co-ed Catholic high school, with an emphasis on architectural work or machine fabrication (yes, they offer that at the co-ed Catholic high school and a charter school, but not at the local suburban high school).
If it was me- and I have two older kids, so I’ve done this-save a spreadsheet. On the first page of the workbook, put kid #1’s strengths and weaknesses, and any little inclinations he or she has. Do the same on a second page for kid #2.
Go see the high schools in your area. Ask a lot of questions.
What does the public school offer in terms of extracurriculars, foreign languages, student:teacher ratios, foreign exchange opportunties, etc. Do they have an IB program? AP? What are their average SAT or ACT scores? Are there any fees? If so, what? Yes, some public schools have fees,and sometimes they run into almost as much as Catholic school tuition.
Now, make the same comparison to the Catholic school. Also ask about Mass (how often), religion classes, etc. And how much does not only tuition cost, but the uniforms, lunches, books, lab fees, computer fee, counseling fee, graduation fee? Are you expected to contibute so much money for the upkeep of the school in the form of raffle tickets, ads in the yearbook, chocolate money, pizza sales money, etc.? And ask administrators, teachers and students what makes the school Catholic! Ask about financial aid in detail. The school might offer some, the parish some, and the diocese some, even the order that runs the place (if there is an order) might offer grants.
Also, go to your local parish.Ask what they do for kids over 14 and under 18, beyond confirmation formation. If you don’t like what you hear- like nothing- you may want to look at other parishes in the area that do offer something. This could also be a good reason to choose a Catholic high school, if the parishes offer nothing for big kids, but the high school does.
Update your file from time to time. You will need to have things ready to rock for the 11 year old when he or she turns 14 and leaves eighth grade. But you will have enough information to make an informed decision with your husband.
And start setting aside some money now!!! If this is something that rests on your heart, you need to pray, but you also need to do your part. Even if you can only set aside $50-$100 a month right now, work into at least $250 a month. Even if your kids go to public school, there is always something a teenager needs!