"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...