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When Moms Talk Schooling

Hello my name is Shannon McKee and I need to make a confession: I send my kids to a public school. By choice. Because I think it's the best option for them. It’s true. I’m a Christian Mommy Blogger who is bullish on her local elementary school. Did you know those things could all be in the same sentence? When I first waded into the blogging world, I wasn’t so sure. It seemed like all my favorite bloggers homeschooled. But, I can assure you: we do exist. {wink} And we really do love Jesus. AND our kids.

Over the years, I have discovered that schooling choices can be a very touchy topic among moms. I think we all have a tendency to feel a tad defensive about whatever decision we make about educating our kids. Have you noticed it too? Why do we do that? I can think of three reasons.

  1. For one thing, our decisions about schooling are very closely tied to our worldview and to our convictions about things that are near and dear to our hearts - like parenting and family.
  2. I think we also desperately want to be understood and validated in the course we’ve chosen. You and your husband likely put a lot of thought into how best to educate your kids. It’s a critical piece of the puzzle in their upbringing. You put your all into it. You want people to hear and understand some of the heart behind that decision.
  3. And, lastly, no matter how confident you feel about your schooling path, there’s often a small sliver of doubt that pops up from time to time. Rick and I have very strong, well-thought, prayerfully-considered reasons for our decision to have our kids in the public schools. But, if I'm honest, I can see both merits and pitfalls in every schooling choice - public schools included. It really comes down to a matter of trade-offs and value judgements that you have to make for your family’s situation. No method is going to be foolproof. Sometimes it’s hard for us to let go of that ideal and realize that we are making a decision for our children that is going to have some unintended consequence in their lives. No matter how hard we try to minimize those potential downsides.

If you stick around The Better Mom for long, you’ll likely hear from moms from all sorts of schooling perspectives. Maybe, like me, you even know a family who has done different things for different kids within the same family. (I love that sort of variety that comes with being a part of the Body of Christ.)

So, how can we spur each other on even when we're talking about a touchy subject? Can I encourage you with a few thoughts?

  • Enjoy the chance to learn what other families are doing. I stumbled upon one blogger who is part of a movement called Unschooling. Did you even know that was an educational perspective? It was fun to read some of her thoughts.
  • Affirm the strengths you see in other educational philosophies. If you can't think of any strengths in other educational philosophies, then you might have an issue. What if God leads you to a different schooling option later? Would you be open to that possibility?
  • Hold loosely to your schooling perspective. There are only a few things I would die for. Schooling methodology isn’t one of them. The Bible doesn't say a thing about which way you should school your kids. It does say that we should "teach them diligently" regarding Him and His Word. How we chose to do that is a mixture of conviction and opinion. Be careful not to elevate it to something more than that.
  • Continue to be sharpened by other moms. Find moms who share your schooling passion and learn best practices from each other. Enjoy opportunities to be around like-minded moms - without being exclusive or cutting yourself off from other perspectives.
  • Pray for each other and try to really understand each other. We all face challenges in our children's education.
  • Be sensitive when you share your heart. Don't put people on the defensive unnecessarily. Instead, consider how your thoughts will be received by someone who doesn't share your conviction. And choose to care more about them than your schooling ideology.

I could go on. But, really it comes down to this: "And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." - Colossians 3:14

Can you imagine what it would be like if we really "put on love" and did this in our interactions with each other? And I don't mean we should sit around, holding hands, and singing Kumbaya. I'm talking about something way more profound than that. I dare you to try it...

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