As I write this, it's April, and many moms have made decisions for their children's next year of school. Many more are second-guessing their decisions. And still others are avoiding making the decision!
I can totally relate to the doubts, indecision, and fears about education!
I watched my mom do it for 20 years. (We probably attended 20 schools in my childhood, many of which were nixed after a few days.)
I myself underwent a tremendous amount of doubt and fear about my own decision for my children. And I have walked with my friends through their own apprehensions. Sometimes there just isn't a perfect option. Sometimes there is a wonderful option, but you can't get in, or can't afford it.
As parents, we have very small, reasonable, totally attainable goals for our kids' schooling - we want them to be godly, happy, challenged, social, rested, artistic, supported, discipled, and settle in a good career. That's all!
And when we they're not getting one of these areas, we totally stress out. That's a good thing, and I don't think we should just dismiss our fears or concerns. If you are lying awake at night with doubts and fears about where your children will go for school next year (or how they will do there), here are a few pieces of advice.
- Sometimes our children's schooling feels like The World's Biggest Decision, but it's really not. I can tend to be a worrier, and I focus all my mental energy sometimes on ONE HUGE PROBLEM that I just have to solve. It feels like the end of the world if I pick the wrong option! Our children's education is important, but God is bigger than our decisions. He is always working. He will work no matter what decision we make. And also - sometimes I need to remind myself that mothers in other countries are trying to decide which child to feed of their many, or whether to stay in a war-torn country or leave. THAT is a big decision. Satan often tempts me into thinking my issues are all-encompassing, so much that I take my eyes off of God, and off of others and their own struggles. Yes, schooling decisions are important, but not all-consuming.
- There may not be a "perfect" solution. Sometimes in this life, you just pick an "okay" option. Oh, this does not sit well for perfectionist types like me! I can't handle a less-than perfect outcome!!! Only the best for my children!! But guess what? Perfection - of any type - isn't found this side of heaven. All our struggles and difficulties remind us - call us - to heaven, when Things Work Again. There just may not be a perfect option. So we pick a good option.
- NO decision is final. As I said in the intro, as a child I attended plenty of schools for just a week, or a month, or a year, before my parents pulled us out because it wasn't the right fit. I wasn't harmed or scarred. If anything I was a little more adaptable. Sometimes...you just try something, and see what happens.
- You can make do with a lot less money. I know that many parents long to send their children to Christian schools, but struggle with the financial issue. I am not saying every private school is a better option than every public school. I know many quality public school teachers and quality public schools! But I know many parents desire Christian education for their children, but are nervous. I have many friends who have chosen to scrimp and save to send their children to Christian schools. It was, and is, hard on them financially. But most have found it to be worth it, and even easier than they thought it would be. My parents made sacrifices for all four of us to attend Christian schools, and I am grateful they did. I know folks who have mowed grass at Christian schools, worked part-time making copies there, who took on other extra work, or gave up vacations. Now, sometimes private education is simply not possible in a family's budget. I totally get that. My point in writing this today is to encourage families who are afraid to spend so much money on Christian schooling. Of course I can't tell you what's best for your family. But don't be afraid to live on a tight budget. And don't be afraid to give up other things (vacations, clothes, etc.) for your children's education. As a child, we did very little of the "extra" stuff, but we had a wonderful childhood. I have found that we can often live on much less than we think we can live on!
- And to the mother considering homeschooling, I say - it is hard, but you can do it. As it turns out, homeschooling was the option that we eventually chose. It has been harder than I thought, but more wonderful than I thought. Homeschooling has given so many gifts to our family.
- And finally, one extra word. A very wise mother recently reminded me that no type of education will save your children. No type of education guarantees success. Our children belong to the Lord. Period. We do our best, and we give them to Him.
I want to do something different today in the comments. I know that at The Better Mom we have such an encouraging community of God-seeking women. If you are facing fears or decisions about your children's education, please share your prayer request below. And please - spend a minute to pray for the request above your own. Let's kneel together and ask the Lord to bless our children - wherever they go.