Editors' note: We asked three moms of school-age children to share their families' perspectives on education. Jen Wilkin, Jenni Hamm, and Amanda Allen are three friends who attend the same church and raise families in the same geographic area. All three share mutual respect for each other as parents trying to raise children with intentionality, in the fear and admonition of the Lord. In this series, you will see their perspectives on how and why they chose to educate their children through public school, private school, or homeschooling. Today Jeni Hamm writes about why she sends her children to private school. See also:
- Perspectives on Our Children's Education: Going Public by Jen Wilkin
- Perspectives on Our Children's Education: Homeward Bound, Amanda Allen
Public school, private school, homeschool, and all the hybrids in between—how does a Christian parent thoughtfully navigate through all the options? Perhaps parents today have so many options that it forces us, in a good way, to think more intentionally about the schooling plan that best fits our family.
The Hamm family has four children ranging in age from 5 to 11. After much consideration and a genuine openness to all available options, we decided on private school, at least for now. Here are the reasons we landed where we did:
We value the curriculum approach our school uses.
Our school follows a classical curriculum. The classical model demands a level of instruction that would be challenging for me personally to provide for my children through homeschooling, and we preferred it to the standard public school curriculum. I love that my kids are being exposed to classical literature, challenged in memorization, and taught logic and rhetoric skills. My favorite thing about our school is the history curriculum at the core of a classical education. We love that our children are learning world history in the same context as biblical history. I remember growing up with no connection between what I learned at school and church, and we are thankful our kids are studying the interplay between the Bible and world history.
We appreciate the Christian worldview our children are taught.
We love that all subjects are taught through a Christian worldview, and that our children are taught to think biblically about all disciplines. Rather than being a separate subject, the Bible is incorporated into history, literature, science, and math. Our kids are learning that all of human history is ultimately about God and points to God, and that the Bible and a Christian worldview speak into history as well as modern life. They are learning that all truth is ultimately God's truth, whether in science, math, or any other subject. They are learning that even the ability to think logically and discover truth are God-given gifts.
We love the school/home collaboration our school offers.
Our school combines learning in the classroom with learning at home. Our kids attend classes three days a week at school and work at home two days a week. We love the “best of both worlds” aspects of this hybrid model. We appreciate the days at school in a classroom environment with professional teachers, and we cherish our days at home. The children get time in class with their peers as well as quality time together as a family, building community both at school and also in the home.
We are thankful for the community in our school.
We love the community that comes from a shared Christian worldview with the teachers and other families at the school. Many of the teachers are fellow parents with children at the school who share our same values and goals for our children. Also, because of the smaller class sizes, our children have more individual time with their teachers. We are also thankful that a smaller school with less competition provides more opportunities for our children to be involved in a variety of extracurricular activities.
Though we love many things about private school, we are watchful about its potential weaknesses. We have said to ourselves before that our education choice is the most “dangerous” option for Christian parents. We could fall into the trap of thinking, We are paying for Christian school. We don't have to be as careful, intentional, or involved as public school or homeschool parents. We are off the hook in teaching our children the Bible. This couldn't be further from the truth.
We, as parents, are ultimately responsible for the discipleship of our children. While it is good to employ help in this calling, the ownership remains on mom and dad. Most homeschooling families naturally assume this responsibility, and most Christian families who send their children to public school do so recognizing that a Christian worldview will only be learned at home and church. In a way, public school families are the most likely to have their “eyes wide open.” Unfortunately, it can be tempting for Christian school parents to assume that Christian teachers and Christian peers will take care of discipling our children. If children are learning Bible and memorizing Scripture at school, this doesn't allow us as parents to neglect to read and study Scripture at home together as a family. I know that when I am feeling weary, I can be tempted to neglect these things with my children, justifying it because they are getting them at school.
We must also guard against thinking that all the families and children at a Christian school follow Christ and make God-honoring decisions. We, too, need to talk to our kids about having discernment and making wise choices. Often, private schools lack both ethnic and socio-economic diversity. Private school parents may need to be more intentional about finding ways to expose our children to other cultures and worldviews. We have found that we have to work harder to ensure that our family is interacting with unbelievers, as being heavily involved in our church and Christian school can create a “bubble” in our lives, not allowing as much space for relationships with unbelievers.
When it comes to picking the right school for our children, there is freedom for different families to make different decisions—different decisions for different children within a family, or different decisions year to year. In our experience, the road of Christian wisdom is not necessarily where you send your children to school but in how you intentionally make and supplement your schooling choices. This involves recognizing that there are strengths and weaknesses to all schooling options—Christian parents need to be aware of those for the option they choose and be prepared to compensate for any weaknesses.