Our Schooling Decision
A major parenting decision is determining how you will educate your child. There are so many choices available to parents: public school, private school, and homeschool are popular choices. Even within those groupings there are more specific choices: charter schools, magnet schools, religious schools, and preparatory schools are just some of the options for schooling available. How is a parent to decide? What factors into the decision? Is there some quiz I can take that will spout the correct school of choice for my child at the end?
There is no one size fits all answer for schooling. Every child is different and has personal strengths and weaknesses that need to be considered. The goal is to have the best environment for the child to thrive, to develop their strengths, and to work to overcome their weaknesses. Education should not be seen as a punishment or oppressive to children, but should be an exploration of knowledge and an interesting adventure.
When we were deciding on how to school our boys there were a few major factors that played into our decision:
- Our Heritage: Both Matt and I attended a private, Christian school. We attended the same school from Kindergarten through high school graduation (but in different grades). We appreciate the knowledge received, the safe environment in which we could grow and learn, and most importantly, the spiritual foundation we built through Bible classes.
- Spiritual Community: We needed a school that aligned with our beliefs. We do not agree with the curriculum and agenda in public schools, so that eliminated that option (especially for the formative years of elementary school). We wanted a school that would point our boys to Jesus and incorporate His truth into every subject. What we teach them about God at home is being reinforced at school and church and solidifying their spiritual foundations.
- Academics: Quality education is very important. Our college chancellor used to say, “If it’s Christian it should be better!” That included education. Since private school classes tend to be smaller than private school, this allows for more personal attention between teacher and student. More questions can be answered and explained when the classroom ratio is smaller.
- Finances: We have planned to send our kids to a private Christian school since early marriage, but as a military family we knew that certain areas have extremely high tuition rates. We mapped out our finances to see what kind of education budget we would need for our growing family. We have an online private school option as a backup if we move to a more expensive area, but we were so blessed to find a school that met our requirements and was in the perfect price point. We look at education as an investment in our children. We partner with their school to help develop their theology, worldview, and character. We have to make sacrifices in other areas to afford tuition for multiple children, but this has been a blessing to teach us to steward our resources well.
- Location: There are several Christian schools in our area. With Christian schools, we may not always have our school friends living right down the street but sometimes 20-60 minutes away. God clearly confirmed our school choice when we viewed our home and discovered the school we had already chosen was right across the intersection! Our neighbors across the street also attend the same school and the first person we met at our church has children at the school! It is such a blessing to have the school so close and to have a close community with he other families.
This is not an exhaustive list outlining our schooling decision, but it does include some of the larger factors. We plan to evaluate our schooling needs each year to determine where God is guiding us and to ensure the needs of our boys are being met. For now, the benefits of having a school that integrates God into every subject and incorporates the gospel into every situation far outweighs the monetary cost.
This post was drafted over the last month, but this past Sunday in our adult class we discussed public school education and some difficulties experienced by children in just the first week.
One quick example, in science class the child of a friend was asked about the age of the earth. This child believed that the number taught was incorrect and he did not answer the questions on his homework because none of them aligned with his belief of creation. If he continues to do this then his grades will fall. His teacher, who claims to be a believer told him to just put the answer the school wants so that he can maintain a good grade.
What a moral dilemma at such a young age! One the one hand, if this were my child I would be so proud that he was willing to take a stand for his beliefs and even willing to turn in an assignment with some unanswered questions. On the other hand, I would be afraid that his lowered grade over his academic career could hurt his future opportunities. This is a prime example of standing up for faith and truly believing God’s Word in a hostile environment. But are our children prepared to take this stand? Are we, as parents, prepared for possible costs of this stand (progression in high school classes, loss of scholarships, loss of college opportunities due to GPA, hostile environment amongst classmates/teachers/administrators)?
I do not have the answers for this situation. I am thankful that our school aligns with our biblical beliefs and if we do have a difference of opinion, that we would seek to work it out in a biblical manner with the intent to learn God’s truth and to build up the church body.
What schooling option are you utilizing (or plan to in the future) for your children? Is it the same or different from your own schooling experience?