Back to School – That is the Question!

School is starting this week here in our community.  Some of you have over a month before your child or children begin school for the 2012-2013 school term, some of you may have years before your child reaches that magic age – 5 years old!

 Home school, public school, private school, Christian school, or charter school? Which option is best for your child and when? There are valid, compelling cases to be made for each of the above options. Many of you have talked to family, friends, and acquaintances that have STRONG opinions about which option is best. Some of these well-meaning folks will share their opinions with you even when you don’t ask. Some hold strong opinions because they feel that the path they chose had the positive outcomes they desired for their child. Others are equally convinced that their child suffered because of the educational choices the parents made, so they discourage making the same “mistake”. As with many things in parenting, there is no ONE RIGHT answer.

As parents of young children, my husband and I did all of the following at one time or another – homeschooling, Christian school, and public school.  It was not because we couldn’t make up our minds – it was because at different times, for different children, we felt led by God to choose various options.

If our goal as parents is to raise children that will seek and follow God’s will for their lives, then selecting their means of education is very important. Yet, the method must never be selected to ensure the child’s spiritual future. There is no Bible verse that says, “For it is by home schooling you are saved, that not of yourself, it is the instruction of parents or Godly teachers, least anyone should boast.” No, the Bible verse that illuminates Truth in this area is

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Even the best instruction by the best teachers in the best home, Christian school, public, private or charter school will not ensure our children’s salvation.

Some of you are searching for assurance that the educational decision you have made for your child is the “right” one, the one that will guarantee a positive outcome. It may be the right decision – yet the outcome is up to God.  There is no one blanket solution that applies to everyone.  In making your decision, it may be helpful to prayerfully consider the following:

  • What options are available to us? This may make the choice simple.
  • Is my child naturally a leader or a follower?  If my child follows their peers, social pressure may be an issue.
  • Are they socially mature? Does my child need to be around other children to learn to share, take turns, realize they are NOT the center of the universe?
  • Are there services (special education classes, speech therapy, etc.) that the public school offers that will benefit my child? Often, children with special needs have more services available in public school. Some services are available to those who home school as well.
  • Are the teachers my children have equipped, nurturing, and do they love what they do? This MUST be the case whether the teacher is a parent, or in any of the various school settings. Sadly, not all Christian teachers have the above qualities. I know many public school teachers who see their profession as a calling from God and it is evident in their classrooms.

As a parent, you still have the most important influence on your child’s education. What you say and do at home is far more influential then what happens in the classroom, even if the classroom is the dining room. Your role as a parent carries over from year to year throughout your child’s life and informs everything else that happens to your child.

I can remember being so concerned as each of our children started school – even when I was their teacher! The Biblical account in Daniel of the four boys taken into captivity in Babylon gave me great comfort and hope, especially as our teenagers started public high school. These boys were about 12 years old, taken from their homes and families to a foreign land and educated by a secular, pagan culture. Yet the teaching they had at home was imbedded in their hearts and even when they were tempted with the king’s rich food and drink and the choice between compromise and death – they did not give in.

Daniel 3:16-17

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. 

God is faithful….