Private school under 10K a year? Homeschool?

We're looking at school options for our 2nd grader. We're currently at a public school. We had seriously considered Crowden, since she loves music--but the small class sizes put us off a bit--and the tuition. Does anyone have any suggestions for elementary schools--public or independent/private--in California or another state? Is that too broad? LoL. As the same for many in the Bay Area, we are always considering a move. But we have family here, etc. The ideal school would be something closer to 10k a year (at the most), one that has a strong music program, and one that helps kids feel confident/interested in learning. Obviously, this school doesn't exist in the Bay Area! Homeschool, maybe? Anyone want similar things and had success homeschooling? We need regular socializing. Signed, Irrationally optimistic:)

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

We have considered Grand Lake Montessori and Mills College School as an alternative. With more than one kid, we can’t swing it but they are lower cost than other private schools. 

I think the only schools you'll find for $10K/year or less are Catholic schools. The diocese is underwriting some of the expenses of running the school, so it costs half what the cheapest private schools cost, but religious education is a goal for them, which may not be a goal for you. And the academics and music would be similar or not as good as what you're getting in public school, depending on the school. You could also consider applying for financial aid at a private school you're interested in, although at this time of year you'd probably be looking at applying next January for the 2021-22 school year. As for homeschooling, lots of people do that, but you're going to be paying extra for music lessons anyway if you homeschool, possibly also for things like science and social opportunities, so why not stick with public school and spend your money on after-school enrichment? If your child is still interested in music by 6th grade, you could apply to the Oakland School for the Arts, which is a free charter school.

We made the decision to homeschool and it has been great. We're enrolled through a charter school independent study program, although some regular public schools also offer independent study programs. Some people also choose to just register themselves as a private school, but we have enjoyed having a little guidance and structure. We have a lot of control over what curriculum to choose, which classes to sign-up for, etc. The school pays for educational expenses like online or in-person classes, supplies, sports and music lessons. Your kids can learn about things that interest them, and you can choose the methods and pace that work best for them. There is a huge homeschool community in the Bay Area, with lots of classes, field trips and park days, in addition to all the after school activities you can already do, so socializing is really not a problem at all. Your child also has more time to pursue their own interests and passions (my kids also love music), without worrying about peer pressure, which has been especially important in the middle school years. If you can afford to do it, I'd recommend giving it a try - especially next year, which promises to be full of chaos otherwise. Good luck!

I highly recommend that you check out Walden in Berkeley. Full tuition is ~$18k (one of the lowest among independent schools in the Bay Area) but many families receive financial aid. Depending on your circumstances, it's very possible this could bring your cost down to $10k. Walden is known for their strong arts programs- music, drama, and visual arts. Our three daughters went to Walden and had wonderful experiences there. 

Have you applied for financial aid at any of the local private schools? If 10k is what you can afford, you might qualify for enough aid to bring your tuition down to that level. Many families with moderate middle-class incomes qualify for financial aid with the going rate of tuition being so high and the bay area so expensive. best of luck

My kids went to a home based daycare where the daycare owner homeschools her own child since school age. Their child is extremely talented in playing the violin and they briefly sent her to Crowden for middle school but the academic course work was so heavy that they only stayed for 1 or 2 years. Now they are back to homeschooling. They are part of the Hickman Charter school serving Alameda County. The school give families money for classes/curricula, organize field trips, and offer in-person classes as well. Trackers in Berkeley has an outdoor learning program for homeschoolers.  

Rather than simply looking at the "list price" of the private school talk to them about financial aide and see what might be worked out. Go to the point of submitting all the financial aid paperwork for multiple schools. I have friends who are receiving significant financial aid from their private school.