It's a decision that every parent has to make. Especially for Christians this choice is hard. There are pros and cons to every choice. The past two years Greg and I have been praying regularly that God would direct us to the educational route He wanted us to take. We talked for countless hours. I cried multiple times. With all of our hearts we wanted to make the right choice. I'm so grateful for the journey we've been on...the struggle...the toil has caused me to understand the reasoning behind why parents make all three of these choices and has made my vision and goals for choosing public school strong.
I'm definitely not the kind of mom who is eager to push my child off the doorstep toward some school so that I can regain my "freedom." Spending the next two decades educating Christian and Abbie at home would be my kind of paradise. But I came to realize that my children weren't created for my happiness. God gave me children in order to train them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) and I need to find the best avenues to accomplish this purpose.
*Disclaimers: It is definitely not my intention in this post to be critical of private schools or home schools. I simply want to share the reasons we have chosen to send our children to public school. Also, Greg and I will never say we are definitely sending all our children to public schools for their entire education. Every year we plan to evaluate our children, the school setting, and pray that God would continue to affirm the choice to send our children to public school if this indeed the calling He has for our family.
1) Greg and I are our children's #1 educators.
If a student spends 6.5 hours in school multiplied by 180 school days per year, that's 1,170 hours over a year's time. Meanwhile, parents have access to the other 9.5 waking hours of the school day, plus all the weekends, holidays and assorted vacations, including summer – a grand total of 4,670 hours per year. School receives 20% of the time pie.
Greg and I are our children's #1 educators, and we will never give up that responsibility or privilege – even though they will spend 33 hours a week in somebody else's classroom. We instruct our kids every day. We look for teachable moments in every experience (Deuteronomy 11:19). We have access to more hours per week with our child than any outsider, and we put that time to good use.
Every night we have devotions as a family. Every Sunday we serve in church as a family. We eat breakfast and dinner together each day as a family. We talk about our days - the good, the bad, the funny, the annoying, and we talk about how God wants us to use the good and bad for His purposes.
2) We're in the public school as a family.
We go in together, we come out together. My kids are not alone. We're right beside them. This is family expedition. As Christian is getting to know his classmates, so I am getting to know the moms. With time Greg will also get to know the fathers. We are choosing to embark into the public school system together.
3) We want our children to learn discernment.
The public schools are a wonderful place to teach our children discernment. We want our children to learn to decipher what is truth versus error while they are still living in our home. We want our children to learn to evaluate everything they see and hear at school in light of their Christian worldview.
When our children enter the real world someday, we don't want them to be leaving a Christian bubble. I want my children to be challenged while they are in our home and have the daily support system and example of Greg and me. We want to guide our children in learning discernment.
4) We want our children to learn to stand up for their beliefs.
Pressure makes us grow. The pressure of public school life is not necessarily a bad thing. It can cause growth in us all. Of course, we can circumvent these trials if we want, making our children feel better in the short term, but if we trust that God has a plan in molding us more into Christ's image with every trial He brings into our lives, then we have a long range vision of teaching our children perseverance, endurance, and leadership. "Our children will be more ready to face worldly currents if we have taught them to swim."
5) We want our children to learn to be the influencers rather than the influenced.
We want our kids to mix with all kinds of kids from all different races, backgrounds, religions, and values. We want our children to know it's not enough to wait on the sidelines when they see someone being disobedient, mean, or rude. They need to see if they can be part of the solution. They need to stand up for kids who can't stand up for themselves. They need to be leaders - influencing those around them.
6) We want our children to learn to shine as light in the darkness.
As Christians one our main purposes in life is to bring the light of Jesus Christ into a dark world. What message would we be sending to our children if we taught them to run and hide from the world?
Our children's main job in public school is simply to be a good student and a servant leader – to model Jesus Christ. They must earn the right to be heard. It is then their job to always to be read to give an answer for the hope in them (1 Peter 3:15).
The truth is that we do not have to take God into the public schools, He’s already there! And God has put us here, in this place, at this time, for a reason.