So we went to talk to the principal of Local Public Elementary about the possibility of sending Younger Daughter there. I told her up front that Younger Daughter has behavior issues that were causing problems at Natural Friends, and that Natural Friends wanted us to have her tested and possibly get a 1:1 aide to "shadow" her during the school day.
The public school principal was very welcoming, and laid out all kinds of possibilities for evaluating our Younger Daughter and providing the support she might need. It is amazing how many people and resources they have for these issues. As my sainted husband remarked, "special ed is what they do." I think they were happy to see us because we can keep a bunch of their people employed for another year.
Would Local Public Elementary be good for Younger Daughter next year? I honestly don't know. They think they can handle her issues, but that doesn't mean I would like their proposed solutions.
Would Natural Friends be good for Younger Daughter next year? I don't know the answer to that either.
Here's the bottom line: if Natural Friends is about as good as the public school, then the public school is the better choice. If Natural Friends is somewhat better than the public school, then the public school is the better choice. The only way Natural Friends can be the better choice is if it is so much better than the public school that it's worth the tuition.
I used to think we were shelling out the big bucks for Younger Daughter to attend Natural Friends because she's happy there. Recently, though, she's become extremely anxious and phobic about attending school, so that argument is starting to fall apart.
I know we're not sending Younger Daughter to Natural Friends for the academics, which are frankly terrible. The math program is embarrassing, and the reading program isn't so hot either. I keep coming back to an offhand remark that the first-grade teacher made during our last meeting; she said that Younger Daughter was not up to grade level for reading, and that she would need tutoring, but that was true for several kids in the first grade. What the ...? They've only got eleven kids! If several of them will need extra tutoring, that's a quarter of the class! Gee ... maybe it's time to re-evaluate your teaching methods?
Increasingly, I feel that all our school options for Younger Daughter are crummy, so we might as well go with the one that doesn't drain our bank account. That would be the public school.
The only good news is that we don't have to make a decision for several months yet.