My goal is for my kids to be happy and fulfilled at school and to learn stuff…which is why they are at school 7 hours a day 5 days a week. If the purpose were socialization, I’d take them to a park, put them on a sports team, get them into a reading club etc.
My oldest is social, gifted, and intellectually curious. So being in a school where he’s challenged, but has discussion groups and groups science labs is a perfect match for him.
#2 is artistic. He hates school. He should be homeschooled, but I’m not ready to go that route. He’s happiest spending hours doing animation and graphic design which he doesn’t get much of in school. We support him by buying software and allowing him unlimited screen time for those endeavors.
#3 is like #1. Super chatty, likes learning, likes homework most of the time. A school environment which focuses on group projects is good for her too.
Social stuff can happen in a variety of circumstances–soccer team, church, playground. But educationally, I think they’re happiest when they’re middle of the pack, learning things that excite them, and learning in ways that make them happy. Being the smartest in your class is an emotional drain–a lot of those kids end up acting out to break the boredom. If their end goal is curing cancer, they might as well start when they’re ready–even if it’s in 7th grade.
Unfortunately, being in school doesn’t make a kid learn to interact with other kids. #2–in a public school–has shown me that he has the capability to try to ignore everyone at all times–teachers, students, parents etc. He reads at recess. He reads books in his lap or daydreams during class. Not much you can do to force him–he’s gotta figure it out himself. Having things in common can bring kids like him out of their shell. Biggest thing isn’t whether it’s private or public, but having a sufficient variety of kids to interact with to find a handful that he can bond with. Small schools are bad in this regard. If the private is sufficiently large, there should be enough variety for him to find some friends and make some enemies.