25 Questions To Ask About School Options


“So– Where do your kids go to school?”

Education and school choice is a hot topic.

The goal of this post is not to convince you that one option is better than another, but instead, to offer 25 questions to pray through as your family considers plans for next year or the years to come.

With that said, an important emphasis of– Lord willing –should be applied.
For we truly “do not know what tomorrow will bring” (James 4: 14 & 15).

And clearly, the “answers” to the following questions will not be the same for every family.
So, here it goes…in no order of real significance…just some suggestions:

1. What are our options?
(Public? Private? Christian? Magnet? University Model? Charter? Homeschool? Online?)


2. What are the ultimate goals of our child’s education? Our goals? God’s goals?
(College? Knowing God? Academics? Building friendships? Expanding horizons? Sports? Learning to love learning?)


3. What special needs, social or health issues, specific gifts, or learning styles does each child have?  What school options will best meet those needs?


4. How will the school’s location and hours mesh with our family?


5. What specific family dynamics must influence our decision?
(Travel? Work schedules? Divorce? Adoption? Racial diversity? Sickness? Death? Family size?)


6. What does the Bible say about education? Learning?  Wisdom?


7. What is each child’s personality, maturity level, and where do they stand with the Lord?
(Is the child a follower? A leader? An instigator? What is their role in a crowd of peers? How do they respond to authority? Do they ask questions? Are they naive? Respectful? Do they learn best in a large or small group?)


8. What can we afford financially?


9. If we feel God leading us to something that seems financially impossible, what changes can we make? How can we trust Him to provide?


10. What are the arguments in support of and against each option?
(Can our decision withstand the valid points of opposing arguments? Do we still feel good about our decision after hearing other perspectives? Ultimately, we all just answer to God in this…)


11. What choices have like-minded friends and mentors made?
(Keeping in mind that each family is SO different and God leads parents to very different conclusions about education.)


12. What are the dangers of each option?
(Isolation?  A hectic life style? Lack of community connection? Impact on ministry? Increased family stress? Negative influences? Superficial or “cultural” Christianity? Educational inadequacies? Financial hardship?  Absence of God communicated?  Loss of missional mindset? Too many social circles? Decreased family connections? Lack of or too much structure? Physical dangers? Over-protection? Unbiblical teaching?)


13. What will the academics be like with each option?
(What curriculum is used? Teaching methods? Is there a certain bent that we appreciate academically?)


14. How will the school handle current issues in the world?
(Ignore them? Give facts? Give opinions? Try to persuade? Analyze? Discuss?)


15. Will God be included or excluded in day-to-day curriculum? 
(Will the curriculum reveal and include the intricacy and excellence of God’s creation and order? If not, how we will effectively communicate that God is a part of everything–math, science, history, literature, music, art? How will we counteract the “compartmentalization” of God?)


16. How involved can/will we be as parents? What other family resources can we count on? 
(Grandparents? Friends?)


17. How will we provide for the social growth our child needs?
(Co-ops? Field trips? Siblings? Church? Community groups? Sports?)


18. With each option, how will we teach our children to reach out to others? To look beyond personal safe-guarding and to see the needs of others?


19. How prepared is each child spiritually?  Is their foundation strong enough to truly be a “light in darkness”?
(Some 8-year-olds may be more ready to engage than some high schoolers. Believe me, I taught high school. :) )


20. If we are asking our children to function as “missionaries” with their peers, are we leading by example?
(Do we speak out and share in our own office? In our own neighborhood? If we are asking them to have this courage, can we point to it in our own lives?)


21. How willing are we to listen to God’s leading? Have we already formed opinions that we aren’t willing to budge on? Do we have a Lord-willing-attitude?


22. How much of our decision are we basing on our own experiences?
(Each school, each town, each teacher, each generation, and each child is going to be different from our “back in the day”.)


23. How will we embrace the educational community?
(Volunteer in their classes? Get to know the teachers? Develop relationships with other parents? How will we make this a priority so that we truly know what goes on in their lives?)


24. How will we deal with friendships? How will we teach our child to be a friend, make friends, keep friends and choose friends?
(Once school starts, so do the invitations. Are we willing to invest time getting to know the children in their classes? To meet the parents? How comfortable are we with dropping them off at the home of a new friend? Will we make time each year, with each new class, to get to know the different families?)


25. Finally…and most importantly…what does God want for our family?
(And it may take a while to figure this out and it may change and it most certainly won’t be the same for every family…which is something I’m thankful for).

 We would love to hear how God has directed

your family when it comes to options for education…

Linking up with: 
Women Living Well
Growing Home
Time Warp Wife 
A Holy Experience
Raising Homemakers
We are THAT Family
Women In the Word

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  1. Sarah says

    WOW – we are trying to decide how to tell my parents we want to homeschool (all depends on God allowing us to have the finances) and this list has really helped me – pinning it! Many thanks x

    • says

      You’re so welcome Sarah…
      Thanks for pinning :)

      I know it can be a scary transition and also a little intimidating to tell others.
      I really do think it helps to have your thought-process and reasons sorted out when you go to share…
      Not that the goal is to feel like you need to convince the whole world of your decision (we all just answer to God in all this)…but I do think it helps others come along side…and maybe even see some issues or concerns or benefits that they hadn’t considered before.

  2. Jennifer says

    We do public school, for a variety of reasons.

    But what I love is how you have truly provided a non-biased tool to help each family pray through whatbGod would have them do. It’s a rare find, I can assure you! So, thank you!!

    • says

      Thanks Jennifer…
      I was really hoping it came across that way.
      I’m aware that I have my own “bias”…but I also am at peace with knowing God doesn’t give the same answers to every family at the same time.
      There are just TOO many different factors…
      We are in a University Model right now…so we’re a mix of several options :)

      • Tara says

        I am trying so hard not to stress about this right now. Our boys went to 3school, preschool, Y5′s at a local Christian school. Then in Kindergarten I homeschooled my oldest. Then the University Model came to the local Chr. school. My oldest, a second grader is going there. The UM model starts here in first grade. My Kindergartener has been home with me just this year, while the UM child is home currently three days a week, while going in on the off days for reading help, gym, choir, art etc. We LOVE this, but aren’t sure we can financially afford to send both of them next year. The UM is still over 300 dollars a month for just one child. Next year, they are increasing the time at school to three full days there, two at home. My older son needs to be there for his “followers” attitude, adhd, small group attention etc. My youngest would be in the same class most of the day with the oldest. Would they fight or behave well in the classroom? How awful would it be (this is where the extreme guilt comes) to send the youngest to public, while keeping the oldest in the UM next year. I don’t want to be unrealistic aobut being able to send them both to the Chr. UM, but yet I don’t want to limit God’s faithfulness either. Despite worries, we’ve had the tuition payment this year each time we’ve needed it. My husbands work isn’t always reliable as he’s self employed. I am praying to hear God’s voice and to be willing to follow. I’m glad to hear of others in the UM model too. Thanks for your insights!

        • says

          Hi Tara…
          It’s SUCH a difficult decision.
          Our school is three days a week and then home for two and runs 14 kiddos a class for K through high school…I’ve been so thankful for this option.
          I’m thankful to hear that the UM has been a good fit for your older kiddo.
          I’m going to stop and pray right now that God will give you and your husband wisdom and the ability to trust Him…and assurance about your decision.
          As with everything in life–
          The real question is always (what is He telling us to do) because it doesn’t always make sense. It’s so difficult because finances are a reality, but as you wrote…we know God can provide. But then again, we want to be wise…
          But there are unknowns in all directions.
          Does the school offer any financial scholarships?
          I’m going to pray God will give you some sort of confirmation in either direction and more than anything, that He’ll make it clear to your husband and give you the ability to rest in that.
          Nice to *meet* another UM family :)

  3. Anonymous says

    i love this kara!!! i’m going to refer to it somehow in my blogging. i think people just stop with this one thought when they think of educating in another fashion than public schooling: “i could never do it.”
    here, you’ve given very important questions to ask and thing to consider and pray about. i’m not saying everyone should homeschool, but i AM saying that education should be given more thought, more intention, rather than just doing what culture says to do. for too long, as Christians, we’ve sort of left God out of the equation, and i think He needs to be brought back in. the ultimate decision may remain the same for many people, but at least they will know they’ve done it with prayer, thought, and intent.
    have a great day!

    • says

      Thanks so much Steph…
      I know you and I often walk a similar path when comes to teaching our kiddos…and it’s not always an easy one.
      I guess I just want to be willing to at least ask–
      “God, what do you want us to do?”
      And to trust Him when He gives an answer…
      For next year, we sense Him leading us to stick with our current plan :)

  4. says

    Very wise post. I homeschool (and own a homeschool community), but do not feel every family should homeschool. We decided simply due to my husband’s job and heavy (international) work travel it would be best for us to be flexible to homeschool. Some times he travels thru the weekend and has off two days during the week – if my boys were in school they’d never get to see him as much. And when he comes home from a 2 week trip to China -we can pick him up from the airport in the middle of the afternoon and spend the entire day together.

    God opened this door for us and I am so blessed there are different options for every family !!

    • says

      I love this response…
      This is a perfect example of why each family must evaluate for their own scenario.

      One of my closest friends has a similar situation…
      Her husband is a nurse and has days off that change all the time…if they didn’t homeschool, they would miss out on so much with their dad.

      I think it’s so SO good that you’ve made it a priority for your family to have that time together when your husband can be home and I bet your boys love it–drop everything and go pick up dad for a reconnecting day!!!

      At times, the freedom and flexibility is VERY tempting to me :)

  5. beth says

    these questions aren’t answered only once and then on you go. they have to be revisited multiple times. Every year brings new challenges, new insights, new needs you are aware of (both yours and your children’s), etc. ASk your kids for their input too, age dependant.
    We try to evaluate every year, whether we feel homeschooling is our best option. We attended open house functions and other information sessions when our first was nearing Kindergarten. At that time my husband said, “I don’t see anything they are doing that we couldn’t do at home.”
    This year, #1 will graduate.
    We have investigated, continued to look at offerings in our city and locale.
    We have two high schoolers taking college classes, not that unusual in our state. But we found we had to network to learn of options/opportunities/learning experiences/tutors/classes for homeschoolers, etc.
    With #1 about to launch, and with the expectation of college expenses, I am considering returning to work, which may mean my youngest, a 9th grader, will be the first of our family to attend a school. Yikes!!!!! But it may be the right time, right palce, right kid.

    • says

      I so agree–
      This isn’t a one-time-list.
      We find ourselves coming back to it pretty much every year.
      So much changes so quickly.
      So many different personalities, struggles, needs, scenarios.
      It’s not something to over simplify and I’m so thankful for the options we have.
      Congratulations on #1 “launching” !!!
      Love that…and can’t even imagine yet. Our oldest is only 11 :)

  6. says

    My kids go to public school. Ugh–I wish I was still homeschooling!! I absolutely LOVED homeschooling and never dreamed I’d ever stop doing that. Then Graham had severe health problems for a couple of years, and when Maddy’s learning started suffering terribly, I didn’t think I was capable of continuing on. I was wrong, because Maddy’s problems weren’t related at all.

    Now my kids are doing so well, that Michael doesn’t want them shifted back again. So I’m honoring him, but I miss it so much.

    • says

      Darlene…thank you so much for sharing this…
      THIS is why so much grace is needed as we dialogue about education within the Christian community…

      So many factors influencing the decision.
      And you raise a huge point–honoring our husband’s leading–trusting him–at the end of the day– even if we might want a different option. God honors that and it’s encouraging to read how well your kiddos are doing!

      I remember *talking* with you about this a while ago and it impacted my willingness to follow my guy’s lead…we currently are “in discussion” about one smaller educational aspect…just a good reminder for me– not to push or manipulate or… but to trust my husband leading, his love for me and our kiddos, and his relationship with God.

  7. says

    Kara – LOVE this tool. Such a great resource in helping parents think thru their options in a very practical way and not make any assumptions. No matter how we school our children, we should go into our situation with eyes wide open and hearts submitted to the Lord.

    • says

      So agree–that is exactly the way we need to enter–
      “eyes wide open and hearts submitted to the Lord”
      Every single option will have potential dangers & pitfalls.
      Every single option will require us to depend on Him and trust His faithfulness in our kiddos’ lives. Love your thoughts here…thank you :)

  8. says

    Excellent, thought-provoking questions. We home-school for many reasons: cost of private education, evolution and other teachings in public schools (we wanted a Christian curriculum), our own poor social experiences in public school when we were children. Our clincher, though, was the schedule. My husband is a professor at a community college, so he cannot just take time off whenever he wants — he has the scheduled breaks of the college. Our local school system, though, does not match up at all. In the entire year, our children would never have a day off with their father! We like to travel and make it a part of our children’s education, so a day-school’s schedule is out of the question for us.

    • says

      I very much understand…and appreciate the choice you have made.
      So SO important to have that flexibility to spend time with dad…love that!
      And what a great opportunity for them to learn through travel!

  9. Annie says

    I also feel that the decision is different for each family. I work at a small Christian School, many of the children that attend came from homeschool environments. There are homeschoolers that take the job of educating very seriously. There are some who are doing it because it is either easier that getting kids off to school or because it is expected in their peer groups.

    It is hard to see kids who have been hurt because their parents were not fully capable (or willing) to educate them at home, now they are years behind. Students who haven’t been taught a sense of committment or work ethic…who don’t see the importance of getting work done when it is expected of them. These aren’t just school skills…they are life skills!

    I know that God calls parents to homeschool and I have seen such great successes when the parents are committed to this goal to glorify the Lord.

    Each family is different and has different needs, but each of us are responsible in the Lord’s eyes for our children and where we are leading them.

  10. says

    My husband and I were just talking about many of the things you wrote above…
    And ultimately–
    What you wrote is the “answer”.
    We are responsible to our Lord in all this…

    My husband and I feel a HUGE commitment to making sure we aren’t closing any doors that God might desire them to walk through later in life or that He may want to use in their lives to bring glory to His name…by either our lack of involvment, or entrusting them to others versus seeing ourselves as ultimately held responsible for their education, or because of fear, or by our laziness/unwillingness to strive for excellence.

    Shannon commented above about going in with “eyes wide open” and I SO agree with that…
    Being realistic and honest about the dangers and possible deficits of every option.
    I’m so thankful for all the options out there for Christ-following-parents–

    Our are part of a school were they are in class M/W/F and then they homeschool on T/TH…
    I didn’t even know that option existed a few years back :)

  11. says

    My husband and I were just talking about many of the things you wrote above…
    And ultimately–
    What you wrote is the “answer”.
    We are responsible to our Lord in all this…

    My husband and I feel a HUGE commitment to making sure we aren’t closing any doors that God might desire them to walk through later in life or that He may want to use in their lives to bring glory to His name…by either our lack of involvment, or entrusting them to others versus seeing ourselves as ultimately held responsible for their education, or because of fear, or by our laziness/unwillingness to strive for excellence.

    Shannon commented above about going in with “eyes wide open” and I SO agree with that…
    Being realistic and honest about the dangers and possible deficits of every option.
    I’m so thankful for all the options out there for Christ-following-parents–

    Ours are part of a school where they are in class M/W/F and then they homeschool on T/TH…
    I didn’t even know that option existed a few years back :)

  12. says

    I love that this post was presented today, as I was filling out transfer papers for our sweet boys for the coming year. I love that I was reminded of the path that God has lead us down and not to get cold feet… Thank you for the thought provoking questions.. they meant more to me and my husband than you may ever know!

    • says

      I love love LOVE when God’s fingerprints are on the timing of something…
      Thank you for these encouraging words, and praying for courage and for more confirmations as you step forward into a new adventure with your boys!

  13. says

    Love this! I’m about to pull my 10 year old daughter home from public school, because it will be right for her…for her heart…and her learning style.

    My 8 year old son will remain in public school for the time being.

    Some of these questions we didn’t discuss, so thanks for the ideas to continue conversation and the reminder in the comments to revisit these each year.

    Now, who wants to help me pick curriculum?! THAT’S overwhelming, ha!

    • says

      Ha! I’m probably not a lot of help there… :)
      But I love your willingness to come alongside each kiddo individually.

      I “hear” good things about My Father’s World, Apologia, Veritas Press book lists, Sonlight book lists…and I LOVE the ideas behind Charlotte Mason’s methods.
      We love World’s magazine for kids–God’s World News (current events from a biblical lens).

      We don’t full time homeschool, but I’m reading through Sally Clarkson’s book–Educating the Wholehearted Child (gives great descriptions of different curriculum options). It’s an excellent book and tempts me to want to homeschool full time :)

      Anybody else have recommendations???

  14. Kathy Sykes says

    These are great questions to consider before deciding (with God’s help) what direction you will take in educating your child. Times have surely changed and there are many options for education that are available. Even if your child is in one type of learning now, they can certainly change to another at any given time if the dynamics of your life or family change. We are blessed to have that option. Education is so important that it should be one of the major decisions that a family makes. Thanks

    • says

      I so agree with what you wrote here.
      We evaluate year-to-year and kid-to-kid
      (though I will say–we’re pretty “sold out” on our current option :)
      But there were different seasons…
      When my husband was working 70+ hours each week…
      When our 4th child died and I could barely function in the midst of the grief…
      When we discovered our oldest had dyslexia & how much I’d need to be involved…
      When we started seeing these beautiful personalities develop and emerge and wanted time to invest in their interests…
      I feel so so SO thankful to have all the options…
      I agree–it is a MAJOR decision…

  15. Jodie Reid says

    Thanks for the great ideas and the neat summary of issues to consider. I’m in Australia and our kids have just started the new school year last week. We have 2 children -1 who has just started high school and one who has just started his first year in school. We went through a lot of these same questions and issues when deciding schools for them and have chosen to send them to completely different schools – 1 is going through the local public school system and the other is at a private Christian school. For us the bottom line came down to making an individual decision for each child depending on their individual gifts and needs. So far so good -we seem to have got a good fit.

    • says

      Love your heart to see each child as an individual…
      And Australia is so close to my heart–one of my dearest-best-life-friends has been in Melbourne with CCC (and loving it) for WAY too long.
      And you have the age gap like we do.
      I’m still figuring all that out…
      We have 11, 9, 8 and 2 (our other daughter, Selah, would’ve been 4, but she died in ’08)…
      That age-gap makes things interesting. :)
      I’m so glad you’ve found a fit for your kiddos…and your love for each one shines through in what you wrote.

  16. Jennifer says

    Thank you for this. Still trying to figure next year out. I feel I know what I am supposed to do, but following that may be difficult.

    • says

      Oh wow–
      Can I relate to that.
      When I “kinda know where He’s leading”…
      But the follow through feels scary/difficult.
      You have my promise that I’ll pray for you tonight Jennifer…
      Thank you for your honesty…

  17. says

    Our oldest son is currently in grade 1 in public school. Our daughter will be starting K at the same school this Fall. I’m really really torn. My preference would be to homeschool, but my husband isn’t convinced. I continue to pray about it all, because my desire to homeschool keeps growing. My husband has come around a little bit in the past month or so.

    • says

      I just want to encourage you Stacey.
      Keep praying.
      Trust God’s ability to move in your husband’s heart.
      Maybe seek out some examples of homeschooling families he can relate to…

      When I really felt God leading us to adopt…(totally off the topic :)
      I prayed God would move in my husband’s heart even without my words…
      As confirmation.
      So I knew on the day that he finally brought it up…that it was from God.

      If your husband loves the Lord…I truly believe in God’s ability to move his heart in this direction if it is the best thing for your family.
      I’d also recommend respectfully asking your husband if he’d be willing to go through these questions with you (I could also recommend some books/articles/podcasts if you’d like :)

      Praying you can rest in God’s ability to speak into lives and hearts if this is what He has planned for your family. It’s a scary thing–to step back and not push, but to trust God…and your guy :)

      I do think discussing these questions might be helpful though, because they raise issues that are sometimes a bit below the surface.

      I can tell your heart is truly for your kiddos (and that you desire to honor your husband)…it’s beautiful to me.

  18. says

    Thank you so much for the great resource of these questions. It came as absolute perfect timing for us. I’ve been in tears (almost) lately struggling through this very issue. We are missionaries in another country and the school year here starts in February. We decided to put our oldest (about to turn 4) in a private preschool this year so that he could learn Spanish. (Our kids have always been at home with me so they are limited in their language abilities since we speak English at home ). But, it has been really hard for me… and for him… to get used to him being in school and not at home. We are really hoping to make some decisions for the future regarding our kids’ education since our oldest should start kindergarten next year. Homeschooling appeals to us except for the language issue. We don’t want him to not be able to participate in church or make national friends because he can’t speak Spanish well. We are very limited in school options since we are in a small, rural town where there are no Christian schools and the public school system is poor. I think my husband and I will set aside time soon to talk through and pray through these questions you have provided. Thank you very much!

    • says

      I’m sorry it took me a bit to reply.

      I visited your blog yesterday and *met* your adorable kiddos.
      I am interested in the missions group you went with (is it a team of engineers?)
      I really hope and pray the 25 questions will be helpful and trust that God can provide the wisdom you need.

      There are many benefits and downsides to each option which is why it really comes down to what God presses on your heart as the crucials (the non-negotiables).
      It also helps me to remember that no decision is “set in stone” so even if you start your little guy next year and it becomes clear that it isn’t the best option–you can make changes.
      And if God leads you to keep him home, God can provide another way for the language to develop.
      I am constantly reminding myself that God knows & loves our little ones and that everything that touches their lives has been sifted through His fingers.

      We started our first child with homeschool when she was in K (which was so good because she was really struggling in reading and speech and needed to be at home–and we didn’t know at the time about her dyslexia…but God knew).

      Then we put her in a full time private Christian school and our other 2 joined her there in the following 2 years (we didn’t know at the time that we were going to enter the adoption process, would quickly have a new baby, and that just a year later our sweet #4 would die from a genetic disease–but God knew that during that period of time, homeschool would’ve been too much for me).

      Then a year later we entered a new phase, and another adoption and we “discovered” our daughter’s dyslexia and I needed to be really involved in her education especially, so we transferred them all to a local University Model school–part time homeschool/part time classroom setting. And that’s where they’ve remained since then.
      (We hadn’t even considered how much the schedule would help the bond between older crew and their new sister…those T/TH homeschool days were crucial in helping fill in the age gap and building those sibling relationships. But God knew we would need this even when we didn’t).

      All that to say–I look back now and realize how clearly His fingerprints were all over those decisions and changes. That gives me courage to trust His leading. He sees around the corner when we can’t.

      Will stop and pray tonight that He makes this decision clear for you and your husband.
      May He bless your ministry and your sweet family…

    • says

      (BTW-I hope that didn’t come across as a blast against anyone specific, or especially this site! I just love the emphasis figuring out what is right for each family, during each season of life!)

    • says

      Thanks Katie :)
      I have a difficult time reconciling “you-should-do-what-I-do” with–
      Lord willing.
      By the grace of God.
      Unless it’s…
      I can think of scenarios when almost every option might be something He leads a family to.
      It’s all about the–
      His leading part.
      Am I willing to listen and obey part (even if I don’t love His answer :) ?

  19. Rebecca says

    I LOVE this post!! I wish this attitude and wisdom was more common!!
    I am bookmarking this page to share with others… It is SO true that there are pros and cons of each, and it is to important to choose what will work best for my family! I have become deeply convinced it is our parenting, not the method we choose to educate that is the key to our children thriving. As a homeschool grad who (for right now) is also homeschooling I am very sad by the well intentioned way which we homeschool families can make others feel guilty for simply choosing what is best for them. It inspired me to create the series, 10 Reasons Not to Home School… on my blog http://thepresentmom.blogspot.com/
    Again, thanks for a wonderful, thought provoking, empowering post!
    Rebecca from thepresentMom


  1. [...] How To Decide Where Your Child Goes To School @ The Better Mom “The goal of this post is not to convince you that one option is better than another, but instead, to offer 25 questions to pray through as your family considers plans for next year or the years to come.” Thank you, Kara, for this incredibly refreshing and practical post! [...]

  2. [...] If your family is like ours, you may find yourselves scrambling as the start of school approaches. You may be squeezing in that last minute trip, finishing up projects around the house, attempting major re-organization in the hall closet, or working through behavior and attitude issues with your child. Whatever it is, you are probably feeling the deadline of the beginning of the Fall semester. Sometimes we get so distracted by the logistics of all that we endeavor to do that we may overlook the purpose for which we are doing it! Whether you are a homeschooling or a traditional schooling parent, back to school time is an opportunity to refocus on the how and why of school…for your kids AND for you.  This year, with many projects still left incomplete, I’m making a priority of re-writing a mission statement for WHO our family will be this school year, and WHY we are choosing to do school the way we do.  [...]

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