Fair or Foul Learning Styles

Dear Parentworks, 

My wife and I are having a huge disagreement about what the best education options are for our two children. Our oldest is 7 and is doing well in school - she enjoys her teachers, gets average or above grades and has good friends.  Our younger son will be entering school next year and he has always shown abilities beyond his age and his peers.  I think he should go to a private grade school where he will be able to develop his skills to the fullest. The public school where our oldest attends has very limited openings for gifted kindergarten kids and we've already been told it's unlikely there would be a spot for him in their program. My wife thinks it would be unfair to send the kids to two different schools. She believes in treating them both the same and that the older one would be jealous if the younger one went to a better school. Advice?    

- Strapped for a Strategy

Dear Strapped,

You and your wife have fallen into a trap that is quite common. The belief that being "fair" to children should override most other parental decisions is erroneous. First, where you send your children to school is an adult's decision. Secondly, your parental responsibility is to provide the best you possibly can for each of your children (and here's the key), based on what is best for that individual child. If your oldest is happiest where she is, and you believe that she will continue to thrive in that environment, then it is in her best interest to let her stay where she is currently. Keep in mind that continual evaluation of how your child is doing in a particular school is an ongoing process to ensure that they are getting the best based on their needs. Thirdly, if your youngest would clearly not be best served by the local, public school and you can afford the tuition and time shuttling between two schools yourself, then you need to know that it is perfectly acceptable for you to make that decision for his best interests. 

We are all different, our uniqueness is what makes this world interesting. There will be many situations during their lifetimes that your children will come upon choices that are different from their siblings, from their peers, even from you, their parents. As long as you both are clear about each child's individual needs and you are consistent with the administration of this type of parenting guideline, you will be giving your children a valuable head start in seeing how the "real world" actually works.