The BEST Schooling Choice For Your Child
I’ve had the joy of putting my daughter in a variety of school settings since preschool. And like other parents I’ve wrestled with my own beliefs and thoughts about what is the “best” schooling placement for my child, and I’ve had many conversations with my husband and others regarding this topic. And while most conversations have been engaging, encouraging, challenging, and thought-provoking, I’ve also been a part of those that I’m afraid happen far too often…
I’ve sat at a table with all homeschooling moms as they discussed how “biblical” homeschooling is above other forms, and “I can’t believe Christian families don’t see that in Scripture”, all the while thinking my discomfort was ironic since I was homeschooling my daughter at the time. I’ve listened as public school moms make remarks that homeschooling families are sheltering their kids and don’t reach out to other families. And I’ve answered questions about “aren’t there mostly rich families” at the private Christian schools we have sent our daughter to.
Indeed, schooling decisions among Christian families are incredibly important and should be made with prayerful conviction. How and where our child is educated is arguably one of, if not the most important decision we will make for them. But I can’t help but wonder if the occasional tension in relationships and between church members, the fear-inducing or critical statements made toward one another, or the condemnation that is felt by many families over their schooling decision are contradictory to the earmark of a Christian community that should be known by our love for one another (John 13:35).
The schooling decision is complex. And indeed, if we’ve made our decision out of fear to what they might be exposed to, convenience, this is what I did as a child, a lack of faith that God might provide financially, an unwillingness to sacrifice financially, a fear of being judged by other moms, a rebellion because of being judged, or self-righteousness, we may have already made the wrong decision about schooling. Though some of the mentioned decision-making factors might be considered, they should not be the foundational layer of our schooling choice.
Scripture, in fact, speaks to this significant decision-making process. The best schooling choice for our children is that which is done…
To the Glory of God.
All schooling decisions, in fact, all decisions, should be made from this starting point for, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). And doing all to the glory of God, is that which brings praise and honor to Him in our lives, and hopefully, eventually in our child’s.
But it’s not always this easy, is it? It’s often difficult to know how to make decisions “to the glory of God”, particularly with such a big decision that is being made by such a diverse group of people in the body of Christ. But if anything, this starting point should in the very least open up a window of grace offered between one another as we grapple with our schooling options.
Additionally, below are some suggestions as a starting place in making the schooling decision to the glory of God, modeled by other godly people and woven through the pages of Scripture. This is certainly not the only or most thorough way to make this decision, but its intention is to be helpful for many.
1. Be faithful in prayer.
Being faithful in prayer means praying as early as possible in our child’s life, as much as we remember, and asking God for wisdom in the decision with faith (James 1:6), believing that He will answer. I’ll never forget what a gracious homeschooling mom said to me once, “I don’t believe every Christian family should homeschool. But I do believe that every Christian family should take the schooling decision more seriously”. What a wise statement.
Sometimes I think we don’t pray earnestly about schooling because we are afraid of the answer. What if God calls me to sacrifice financially? What if the decision He wants me to make is inconvenient and harder than I want? What if I have to expose my child to things I’m afraid of? And yet if we don’t trust our decision to a powerful and loving God, we might miss out on deeper ways He wants to work in our life, and in our child’s.
One of my best friends has a family in which both she and her husband work, have 4 young children, and realized they couldn’t afford to send their oldest son to the private Christian school they loved in their area for kindergarten. They prayed diligently for months before he started, believing and trusting that God could provide the finances. On the first day of school nothing had changed circumstantially. They walked their son to the nearby public school not with despair or disappointment, but with joy and peace in their heart that God had answered their prayers with, Not today. They had peace that the public school was the place God had provided for their son, and they were thankful. Six weeks into the school year my friend got a call from the Christian school, telling her that someone they know- although wanting to remain anonymous- had paid for their son’s entire tuition for the rest of the year. I’m in tears just remembering this story again.
Pray, and pray faithfully for your child’s schooling.
2. Seek Godly counsel.
Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed”. Seek many counselors, and seek a variety of opinions that have been built from Scripture and prayer. Be willing to talk with godly people who may not share the view you are hoping for or agree with, and at least be humble enough to admit you may need to change. Furthermore, take any human opinion or counsel and measure it with the truth and grace of Scripture. Don’t allow a man-made opinion that is not clear in Scripture to be made into a command. Lastly, make Scripture your most heavily weighted place of counsel. Scripture does provide all wisdom, for: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16)…every good work, including our decision of schooling.
3. Make a semester long decision
(or shorter), not a lifelong decision.
I think many of us get overwhelmed with the schooling decision because we carry the unnecessary weight of making a forever decision. Financial and geographic circumstances change. Our views change. Our spouse might lose their job, and neither spouse may be able to homeschool. We may not have a spouse, and homeschooling or private school has never been an option. Our child may be having an incredibly difficult time at school, whether Christian or public, and we may need to pull them out. The school is not the decision-making parent…you are.
We don’t need to make a year-long decision, it can be day to day. Granted, pulling your child out or putting them in various schools multiple times a year or even across a few years would be tough on any child, I’m sure we’d all agree. But when we are making a college decision for our kindergartener, fear and control can creep in and soon enough we forget the command: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).
God’s mercies are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23), sufficient to provide us wisdom for our child’s schooling for that day, and for that year.
4. Make your decision in faith.
Romans 14:23 states, “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin”. Once you have prayed earnestly, sought counsel through Scripture and others, and chosen your schooling for the year or even as short as a semester make your decision in faith and believe God has answered your humble seeking. James 1:6 tells us, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind”. Many of us become driven and tossed by the wind in the schooling decision process when we haven’t been humble, diligent, and earnest enough in the process. Granted, it would be silly to assume we won’t face some confusion and doubting even after we have made the decision wisely. But if we find ourselves stuck in fear or a prolonged state of confusion over the decision…its time to re-visit the process with the Lord. He loves you, and He is not a God of fear or confusion.
In conclusion, we serve a God who has given diversity in the body to those decisions that are not abundantly clear in Scripture. And as we make these decisions ourselves, as well as interact with others doing the same, let’s do so with the intention to: