As back-to-school time arrives, most families are thinking about what their children will wear on the first day and other logistical arrangements. This time, though, provides an opportunity for parents and grandparents to think at a deeper level about the educational arrangements and calling behind their family’s school choice.
In Christianity, education is not a morally neutral exercise but has spiritual, emotional, mental and bodily consequences of the highest degree. Because of this, I wish to offer a few thoughts to parents regarding their preferred school choice.
In some sense, we who have children are all homeschoolers. For some, this means helping with homework after school. For others, this is the whole ballgame, with curriculum and implementation. In either case, parents, not teachers or administration, are ultimately responsible for the education of their children.
One advantage of homeschooling is that it inherently sees that education is not something that happens only Mondays through Fridays, from morning to afternoon. Instead, like people in Old Testament times, parents are told to teach their children God’s Word throughout daily routines (Deut. 11:19-21).
Many choose homeschooling to avoid some of the peer pressure and curriculum pitfalls of other schools, such as evolutionary teachings. At the same time, homeschoolers must avoid the tendency to create a holy huddle, walled off from the world. Fortunately, within Christianity, most everyone recognizes this, and the caricatures of yesterday’s homeschooling are far removed. To those who choose homeschooling, I say thank you and Godspeed.
///To Public schoolers
Over the past two decades, the landscape of public education in America has drastically changed. Most Christian parents I know who choose to use the public schools do so either out of conviction or constraints.
Still others see the public schools as a mission field for their families. Many are in “hard area” schools in which there is much poverty and crime in the areas. These families need our utmost help, through great tutoring programs like Whiz Kids, and our prayers.
Much of the curriculum and sub-culture is contrary to the teachings of Christ. Look no further than sexual education today. Yet if Christians were ever fully to exit public schools, imagine how much darker the outlook would be.
For those who choose public schooling, I pray that God’s very presence would help make you salt and light, against all odds.
///To Private schoolers
Our society wants the best money can buy, including food, cars and various accessories. When it comes to education, though, having the very best is probably a good thing. Many Christian parents scrimp and save to give their children a Christian education, and for this they should be commended.
We must, however, avoid feelings of superiority to those who cannot or do not attend the best Christian schools. Moreover, we must avoid the notion of “outsourcing” our children’s education, even when it’s the best of schools morally and academically, in the same way we could not expect youth ministries alone to disciple students.
Be that as it may, more and more churches are offering Christian schools (or supporting Christian education where they can) opportunities for the Gospel to spread and disciples to be made abound. To those involved in private Christian education, I say never give up, and may all you do be for the glory of God.
In summary, mother and fathers, now is the time to recommit to raising our children right. Whether through public, private or homeschool, let’s be intentional that we are bringing up children in the Lord. May they, like the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, grow “in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).