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  1. #1
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    Default Catholic Education without being a believer?

    \My DD is in prep and is already having academic issues. At least part of it is her hearing and we have an appointment next week with an ENT to see about getting grommets put in. She also has SPD (and possible ADHD but no assessment until the ears are fixed), issues with speech and both gross and fine motor skills difficulties. Socially she has done great but academically, she's not hitting her benchmarks at all. Far from it.

    One of the suggestions put forward is moving her next year to a catholic school which will be newly opened. It will be quite small (Estimating 1 class per grade) and I think it will foster quite a community feeling to begin with. I think DD could quite benefit from a smaller school, more contact with a wider range of teachers/principal etc and just a more flexible learning environment. Her current school is very large and I feel she has gotten lost a bit in there already. For instance, at her prep interview, we told them of my cancer, her SPD and her hearing issues and none of that was ever passed on to her teacher.

    My problem is though, obviously, the religious aspect of it. My husband is very much a catholic (though rarely attends church) and I'm more atheist than anything else. I very much want my children to have a faith system but I I sort of thought they would build that system themselves. I dont really have any issues with a catholic school, I just dont know how much religion plays a part in the curriculum and how much is presented as theory vs fact if that makes any sense?

    I guess I'm just nervous about having something I dont personally believe taught to her but I also genuinely think a smaller more community minded school is what she needs. I'm curious to hear how other parents - whose personal beliefs don't match up with their child's school - handle the situation? Is it really that big a deal or am I making a mountain out of a mole hill?

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    My family is catholic and went through the catholic education system but a young death in the family saw my parents question their beliefs when I was about 10. I was aware they didn't really believe in god anymore, and as a teen I had never really believed, but I knew it was a good school so I went along with it. I did challenge my religion teachers a bit because I struggled with what they were teaching, e.g. I'd ask a question and their response would be around having faith; it frustrated me that there was no actual answer. When I would get in trouble at school for this, my parents would remind me if I wanted this quality education, I needed to just go along with it.

    Something that I think is really important if your kids go to a catholic school is making sure you educate them about contraception. I remember in about year 9 the PE teacher telling us the Catholic Churches position on contraception; I would hate a teen to think using contraception was bad but then go and have s3x without any protection. To clarify, we were taught about different forms of contraception but I think public schools do a better job; e.g. My friend is a PE teacher in a public school and they taught their students to put on a condom; I don't think we were even shown one.

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    zelda  (11-05-2017)

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    I am completely non-religious @zelda but my dd will more than likely go to a religious school because there just aren't many non-religious private options here in Adelaide. I haven't decided yet which school but probably catholic primary and Anglican high (the Anglican schools are much more expensive so we won't do it from the start).
    I don't have an issue with her being taught religious education. The schools we are looking at aren't extreme in their foundations. I am confident in our ability to have rounded discussions to include alternative views and perspectives. My background working in sexual health and as a health educator will see us through the sex ed phase
    I was not raised as part of any religion and went to catholic high school - the actual mass sessions once a week were optional. I think we did religious ed but don't think it was that full on considering I can't remember it at all!
    If the school seems a great fit in all other ways I'd go for if

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    zelda  (11-05-2017)

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    I've taught at a Catholic school and the main religious aspect is in religion class - 1-2 lessons a week, other aspects of the religion were fostering a sense of community, service/helping others. A nice environment to be in without ramming religion into every lesson...they still need to follow the Australian Curriculum.

    The one thing I'd advise, is looking into how the school could support your daughter's needs. Being a new/small school, do they have an academic support department? Enquire into the funding available through catholic ed vs the public system for what your daughter is eligible for...sometimes there are differences.

    As long as you and your family support the religious practices/ceremonies of the school, they'll be accepting of you. However, your hubby being Catholic will carry a lot of weight on the application.

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    zelda  (11-05-2017)

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    I went to a catholic schools, they weren't full on, in primary school we had separate boys and girls talks about puberty/periods etc.
    In high school we'd often challenge the re teachers, because you are of course being taught the regular curriculum. Our biology teacher teacher gave us very in depth explanations as far as s*x ed goes, she had not only condoms but every form of contraception for us to see, because no one really asked questions she had everyone write down questions then answered them all the next time. She also showed us very graphic photos of std's I still remember to this day.
    In re we were told the church recommends abstinence.
    We had kids that were different religions, some did re with us others would go somewhere else.
    When my DD was in a catholic school we didn't actually take part in any ceremonies, it just never fit in with our schedules, but it was never a problem.

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    zelda  (11-05-2017)

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    my DD goes to a catholic school even though I am not catholic. (DH is catholic)

    The school is quite religious and the lessons do include religous aspects in a lot of their day to day teachings ... but for primary school I have found it to be fairly ok.

    As a school it has been excellent. The quality of education has been great, the sense of community and attention to the kids needs has been first class. That isnt because its a catholic school, but because of the school itself and the people there.

    If the school gives you a good feel, and you like the size/programs etc - then I would go for it.

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    zelda  (11-05-2017)

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    My Dad is a Catholic (although he never goes to church) and Mum is an Anglican. All of us kids were sent to the local Prep-Year 10 Catholic school, not because of the religious aspect but because it was widely recognised to be the best school in town. For Years 11-12 we went to the local Government school - the only option available!

    I never much liked the religious lessons myself. I think my parents probably wanted me to have some sort of beliefs instilled in me through my education but as an adult I am not a believer. I do however embrace the general concepts of being a good honest person

    Now that DH and I are expecting our first we are discussing the schools in our area and we will probably do as my parents did - send our child/children to the Catholic school. Again, not because of any religious views but because we feel the Catholic schools here will give the better education and opportunities. I think as adults our children will make up their own minds as I did about their religious views, so for now our main priority is giving the best education we can.

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    zelda  (11-05-2017)

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    I went to a catholic primary and highschool. Obviously things will have changed and my kids go to state schools so I can't compare to how things are done now.

    However religion classes when I went to primary school were focused on things like reflecting on when you last helped someone, or visited someone who was sick, how you can do better etc. There were bible readings plus preparation for first holy communion, confirmation etc. Preparation for sacraments is now the responsibility of parents. There is probably still some done in schools but nowhere near as much as there used to be.

    I have found that what passes as religion in state schools is very happy clappy and taught by whoever from the local Baptist (?) church. I was not thrilled by my kids being taught very literal interpretations of the bible and being yelled at for questioning whether or not Noah actually built an ark. You won't find that brand of religion being taught in a Catholic school.

    Religion in highschool was not religion at all and really fell under the ambit of personal development - we did topics like s.ex ed, assertive communication, dealing with friendship issues, reflecting on controversial topics such as capital punishment, plus we learnt about other religions. Religion taught in highschools in Qld has definitely changed since the 80s when I went through though as it is now an authority subject with actual exams etc, although I'm not sure what they are taught and how much bible / Catholic content there is.

    ETA one thing I do like about religion in Catholic schools is that there used to be a lot of reflection on issues and forming and articulating your opinions. Take the religious content out of it, critical thinking is a good life skill.
    Last edited by SSecret Squirrel; 11-05-2017 at 12:14.

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    zelda  (11-05-2017)

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    Hi, sorry to hear your DD isn't having her needs met by her current school. I concur with a PP that checking whether the new school has the ability to meet her needs given it's so new & small is worthwhile. My son has peer with SPD in his class and his small Catholic school hasn't met the peers needs as well as they could have.

    Also, worth checking if the school will accept your DD if she isn't baptised and you aren't active parishioners. DS's school is very strict that parents must be Catholics, at least semi-regularly church attending, willing to support the religious education at home, willing to financially support the church, and the child *must be* baptised and prepared to go through all the future sacraments.

    best of luck

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    zelda  (11-05-2017)

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    Thanks guys. My DD has been baptised though we are not regular church goers. I've been baptised catholic and my DH has achieved all his sacraments.

    Unfortunately right now it's hard to get a feel for the school as it's still just a hole in the ground lol. We're meeting the principal on Monday though and we'll go over DD's issues with her and see what she says. A catholic school opened up about 5 years ago in town and it has a great reputation (and has done from the start) so I'm hoping this one will follow the same standards.

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