When my wife and I made the choice to place our kids in the public school system it came with an understanding that their are great benefits as well as some hazards we want to be careful of. We talked through some things that would help us to stay on course when the time came to navigate some those hazards. Below is a short list that has been of great help to us.
- Mom Stays Home – we decided that my wife will not work at this time which will give her time to focus on our kids and the climate of our home. For her to have an accurate thumb on the pulse of our home and kids development is crucial to us.
- Teachers for Dinner – we will pursue opportunity to have the kids teachers over to our home to communicate our appreciation for their time and energy investing in our children and to communicate to them and our kids that we will back the teacher and that we want to know of any problems or issues that arise with our children. (this is harder then we initially thought but worth trying)
- Parent-Teacher Talks – we will make a priority of any opportunities to interact with the teachers. This may come through not missing any parent teacher conferences (both of us) or just taking the time to interact with them when we drop off or pick up our kids.
- Homework. We will stay involved in our kids homework and what they are learning in school so that we can help them navigate what they are learning. This will aid us in helping our kids learn as well as keep us connected to the teachers.
- Classroom Volunteer – we will both volunteer as much as possible in the classroom during field trips, luncheons, class projects, concerts and the like. Due to me working, my wife will most likely take advantage of these opportunities more often but if available I would like to make an appearance.
- Build a Hang Out – we will make our home a place that our kids want to be and can bring friends over as much as possible. This is so that we can be involved in what they are excited about and have a chance to watch the friendships that develop. This is important to me because I want to be able to engage and help invest not only in my kids but in their friends as well. We can really help our kids invest in others with our resources in certain ways which would be difficult to do if we are unable to observe those opportunities.
- Get to Church – we will make it a priority to attend church as a family regularly and find ways to serve and get plugged in as a family. We acknowledge that one of the downsides to public school is the interaction with kids and families of like faith. We want to make sure that they have opportunity to form these areas of fellowship and exhortation toward a mature walk with Jesus. This will be helpful as well in connecting older men and women into the lives of our kids that can speak truth and love in ways that echo what I want them to hear.
- Family Devotions – we will take the time to do daily family devotions. This is important because it is our responsibility as the parents to train them in the discipline and instruction of the Bible. While our church and youth group (as they grow older) can be a great aid in this process we must remember that it is only an aid. We can delegate the learning of division or in some cases even driving a car but not their spiritual development. That is just too important to subcontract. (admittedly this is the hardest to be faithful on for me because it is a daily thing that often gets forgotten)
- Acknowledge Individuality – we will be aware of the fact that each of our kids is different from the other. I must be willing to look at them as individual situations. I am not sure how the logistics would play out if our kids went to different schools but I do believe that since the decision of where your children go to school is significantly decided on the kids, I am willing to change schools if we needed to. I would mention here that my goal is to have all my children at one school but I want to be careful not to keep one of my children in a situation that is harmful or will keep them from a mature walk with Jesus of their own, which is my overall pursuit.
My aim here is not to make what I believe the standard or to pigeon hole every child and every family but to put before you not only what my wife and I have decided to do but also how we made that decision.
There are numerous times where we hear the decision that someone has made and really like what they are doing and take it on for ourselves. This often has the potential to put us in the ditch along the side of this journey called life because one of two things take us off the road: not knowing how they made the decision and not taking the time to see if we should be making the same decision.
If we spent time to discover how people came to the decisions we see them put into action I think that we would stop following their choices in short order. I believe that most people make decisions based on impulse or emotion as they interact with people and circumstances. This can be dangerous because none of that is based on principles or values that they hold to.
So why don’t we ask? Why don’t we pursue them and find out how they came to that decision? The honest answer in my life: I am lazy. It is hard work and it takes putting yourself out there admitting you do not have it all together which in reality is seated in a bit of my pride. The thing is that if we do not ask some questions then we are bound to make the same mistakes and jump into an important decision with haste because we are acting on impulse and emotion as well.
Once we are willing to humbly ask some questions, admit we are not sure which path to take and start to investigate we are in a position to make a decision that can be based on our principles and values not our emotions and impulses. This is important because it takes time and diligence to do the investigation. Giving us time to reflect and realize that the emotions, circumstances and relationships that we were once so concerned with do in fact change. We now have the opportunity to look at what we want, desire and value. We can move forward asking which is the best option for us, for my family and my kids.
I am not positive that I have made the right decision at this point.
I acknowledge that I have taken some risks. Some people may think that they are unnecessary risks. I can understand that and I can respect that. However, I also understand that if I can not make a clear decision based on counsel, principle and value and then furthermore be able to articulate it I will be hard-pressed to stand before the One that I am ultimately accountable to with an answer for why I choose to do what I did.
So in short, what do I desire? What is my chief aim? My answer is simple. I desire to let lose an arrow from my quiver that is going to fly straight and true (Psalm 127). I plan to do this by taking responsibility today for the shape of the arrows that I will one day let fly.
I am not positive that what I put before you in the last few posts is the best method but it is how we have come to make a decision in this area as parents for our children. I hope that you can find wisdom in it and be able to apply it to your life in some way. It is a great joy being a daddy and seeing the life of my children develop. I trust that you feel the same way. It is our responsibility to not merely provide for our children but to protect, love, develop, train, and instruct them. I take this responsibility seriously and I know that you do as well.
What would you add to the list above? Leave me some thoughts in the comments.