One of the hardest decisions a family has to make is what avenue of education you want to pursue with your children. All of us recognize that our children are God's gift to us, that we are entrusted as stewards of not only their schedule but their soul, and that we want our best for them. In general, there are three avenues to consider taking:
1. Public School - The county/state funded school in your neighborhood or community. It could be what you're "zoned" for or you could have magnet schools.
2. Private School - Whether you choose to pursue a specifically Christian school or a private school without a specific denominational affiliation, you'll be responsible for footing the bill for tuition.
3. Homeschool - You as the parent are the primary teacher, though you may connect with other families or co-ops, you can use a dedicated curriculum or an individual assembly.
I realize this isn't nuanced. It's not supposed to be. This is something that every family has to determine for themselves, and even may be different based on each child's individual needs. But whatever course you decide to take, you need to think through some questions.
Is this something we're passionate about? - If you're not passionate about who and how your child is shaped and educated, you're not being a responsible parent. Whichever path you choose, it must be something you are passionate about. If you choose public school, be passionate about your child's mission impact on their friends. If homeschool, be passionate about individualized instruction.
Is this something we can afford? - Jesus had warnings for those who sought to build without counting the cost. So many times we do the same with our kids. We want the best for them and we may be passionate about (for example a private Christian school), but we've failed to do the hard work of seeing how our budget would need to adjust.
Is this something realistic? - A lot of Christian families are enamored with homeschool. They may be frustrated with a broken public model, they may have a desire to incorporate a biblical worldview, or they may want more time with their kids. But some families just simply can't. Both parents may have to work. It may not work with their schedule. It may be hard because they have a large family or don't have the space to dedicate to teaching.
Do we have support? - Regardless of what route you choose, it's important to make sure you have support. Even in public school, it can be exhausting with projects, homework, extracurricular activities, school plays, and more. You need support to help you with all those requirements, it can come from extended family, neighbors, or through church. Or if you homeschool, do you have outlets for PE or field trips? Trying to do it alone is a recipe for burnout.
Is this best for this child? - I don't know how your kids are, but my two are complete opposites. Each child is uniquely made in God's image, and comes with their own way of learning and perspective of what's best for them. Some families find their kids thrive in different settings. It's harder in terms of coordinating and transportation, but again that's where this comes back to each family considering what's best and wisest.
Is it something you've prayed through? - One of my favorite promises of God is the promise of wisdom, where we're able to navigate life and apply the Bible and the prompting of the Spirit to our daily activity. And we should never make such an important decision without giving it to a season of prayer (and fasting if needed).
How about you? How did you decide on your child's education? What did you choose? How's it worked?
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.