The whole process of deciding what to do with our kids as they begin school has been an ongoing conversation for me for a few months. It pretty much starts with the fact that I am convinced that as the head of my home it is ultimately my responsibility to figure this out and to not be passive in doing so. My wife and I had the opportunity to sit down with a few couples who had walked this path before us and did so by making a deliberate choice. Their wisdom and insight was very helpful and while I am still fresh in the process I hope that what I am learning may prove to be helpful for some others as well.
Framing the Decision
I believe that the responsibility is mine to education and train my children. At some part of their education I believe that the structure of school is very helpful in their development as a person and their education in learning. Where we live currently I am presented with multiple options for where to send my kids to school and then the question of when enters the picture. First let me address the issue of “Where?” and proceed to the “When?” in the next post.
The three legitimate options that are in front of me are as follows:
- Home School (cyber school would go here, at least at the time of writing this but it is growing in our area rapidly)
- Private Christian School
- Public School
Each of these schools can have significant advantages that could positively impact each of my kids. As illustrated below you will see some of the areas that understandably draw parents to each option. I am not immune to each of these and each has crossed my mind at least once.
The idea that each of these options comes with advantages is something to consider. As my kids grow up these advantages may carry more pressure. I have observed that many parents give great consideration to these advantages and which will best suit their children. This is not a bad thing, however I believe we must understand that as each option carries with it certain advantages, each carries certain disadvantages as well.
These disadvantages must be considered in the same way, if not more closely, as they are equally as significant. The mistake many make is that they give full attention to the advantages and give no attention to the disadvantages.
The disadvantages for each could easily be looked at by a quick change of wording from the other option but that would not paint the whole picture. For example, we could say that the disadvantage of home schooling is that you do not have the sports programs or the full state funded science lab. While this may be true, there is ever increasing opportunities for home school families in these areas.
The real disadvantages that may come upon you in each of these options are a bit more serious and a bit more difficult to overcome. They would come in the form of observed consistencies that many struggle with and you need to see before making a choice. Let’s look at some examples of what I am referring to.
DISADVANTAGES. The disadvantages that are present are worth our attention. I would add here that each has areas for concern. There is not really one option that is correct while the rest will lead to utter destruction. The issues and struggles with each are what you have to keep in mind when you make a decision. The point is that each option has obstacles to navigate you choose the ones you want to focus on.
Speed Bumps or Pot Holes
When you are navigating the years that your children are in school you will have to navigate some pot holes or speed bumps all the way. No one option is without its hazards. What you and your wife have to decide is which ones will you navigate.
The question that comes up is, “which one is the right choice for my kids?” This is an honest question that needs to have it’s due time in discussion. What you have to think about is not necessarily which option offers the most but which option can we best enjoy the advantages while still accomplishing our overall desire for our kids that is in accordance with obedience to the command to us as parents. Remember that it is our primary job in raising our children, to teach and train them up in the way of the Lord. To the best of your ability which path will you best be able to navigate so that you can accomplish the overall goal? They can all work but it depends on legitimate options, the parents and the child. Let’s look at each real quick.
Options. There can be a scenario when you do not have three options. You may not have any christian schools in the area near you or you may not be able to afford the one that is. You may both be working full time and not be able to stay home with the kids without some significant changes to your life. There may also be some public schools in your area that are a bit more dangerous then you would like or not have the funding for programs you desire. There could be any number of issues that could be present where you currently live that may diminish your options. Once you have narrowed down what legitimate options you do have you can start narrowing those down a bit farther. So lets summarize some of the Benefits and Hazards of each, then look at a few other considerations.
Option 1: Public School
- Benefits – high quality in the classroom, funded programs in science, math and other higher learning curricula, sports programs and competitive environments, already paid for in our taxes (this is a few of the most commonly mentioned)
- Hazards – teaching curricula that is not consistent with faith, friends and others who do not live by the same faith, as they grow older higher probability of opportunity for drugs, underage drinking, promiscuity and the like
Option 2: Private School
- Benefits – curricula that is inline with our worldview, small class size with usually better opportunity to have parents involved in classes, friends who are most likely of common faith, school not governed by the state
- Hazards – apathy in faith is common in private christian schools, programs have limited budget, most likely cost is a few thousand dinero, schedule will now be filled with events overwhelmed with people of the same faith
Option 3: Home Schooling
- Benefits – Control of every influence of your kids, flexibility of schedule of your family, You get to pick the curricula
- Hazards – time investment from the parents (especially at an early age), lack of social interaction with others, takes extra effort to get into competitive sports and larger programs, lack of facilities for certain subjects
The Parents. The whole idea that you will have to navigate some obstacles, failures and hazards is not a bad thing but you may feel a bit more comfortable with one as opposed to another. If you were never raised in a christian school and neither was your spouse then you may not choose that option because one of the hazards is easily becoming apathetic in your faith. Maybe you never had the chance because you were saved late in life. You may look at the challenges that accompany each option and believe that you feel more comfortable walking your child through the public school as opposed to the others. Or you may go the other way and remember how hard it would have been to be a christian in a public school and choose a different path. The decision really comes down to what issues you want to walk through as a parent.
The Child. The last part of the decision comes down to the individual that you are working with. As a parent you may already have noticed that each of your children is significantly different. They are not the same! They have different bents, strengths and weaknesses, temptations and areas of vulnerability. This may become more prevalent as the kids get older but you need to be willing to look at who they are as a growing individual and make decisions accordingly.
Yes – I’m Generalizing.
I know that this is a hard conversation and that I am making many sweeping generalizations of the different options. It is equally true to say that not all public school kids are doing drugs and to say that not all home school kids are weird. I get it. The idea is just that when people are speaking frankly there is an undertone that while there are drugs in private school they are more likely to be found rampant in a public school in the same way the sometimes awkwardness of homeschooled kids makes sense when they are not in a class of 25 five days a week. Please don’t jump on that and blow up. Instead, interact with what other benefits and hazards you see in the above options. Leave a comment with your thoughts.