Where should my child go to school? This question keeps parents up and night. So REO decided to give you three testimonials from three moms, all who are Christians but who have chosen different educational paths: homeschool, private school, and public school. What works for one family may not be the best option for another family. There are even choices within each of these categories. We are in no way elevating one over the other. The goal is to see the reasons why these moms have made their decision. One thing is true of all: each of these moms loves her kids.
I am a list person, so here is my list of homeschooling pros and cons.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first:
Time – Let’s just be real. Homeschooling means having your kids with you all the time. That means that they go grocery shopping with me and they are home all day so the house is harder to clean. It also means that I am keenly aware of their flaws. If they are rude then I am the one they are rude to. If they are sweet I get to see that as well.
Cost – Homeschooling costs money, energy, and time. Homeschoolers spend an average of $200-$700 on curriculum and field trips per year, per student. While there are tons of free curriculums out there, I have found that those curriculums require more energy and planning time. It is easy to allow myself to get over committed and over scheduled.
Now for the positives:
Flexibility – This applies to homeschooling in two ways: flexibility for our family and our students. As a pastor, my husband’s job means that we are always busy on the weekend, so the ability to have family time during normal school days is a huge benefit for us. Also, the ability to travel during the normal school schedule means smaller crowds and lower prices when we vacation. Homeschooling also allows us the flexibility for our kids to spend more time on the subjects that interest them or the subjects that they need to work harder on. The students are able to learn their strengths and weaknesses early in life and focus time on developing those skills.
Time – While there are times when I lock myself in the bathroom with a bag of Lindor Chocolate Truffles so that I can have five minutes alone, I truly enjoy spending time with my kids. As they grow up I am keenly aware of how quickly the years are slipping by. We are gearing up to start our 8th homeschooling year, and I am so thankful for the good days and the bad days that I have shared with my kids. There have been days that were not conducive to learning and that we cuddled on the couch reading books or played in the yard with friends. There have been years of academic struggles that have been made worth it by seeing the breakthrough moments. My kids know me and my flaws; I know them and theirs. They get to spend time with their siblings. They are best friends. I cannot imagine looking back and thinking that I wish my house had been cleaner and that I had spent less time with my kids. I have no regrets in the investment of my time. When I am gone from this world a small part of myself will be left behind in my 6 kids. My time is one of the greatest investments that I can give to them.
Character building – One of the greatest positives for our family is the opportunity to focus more of our time on our faith and character building. Like I pointed out earlier, spending all of your time with your kids means you know their faults well. No one has a greater vested interest than I do in helping them improve their character. If I fail to teach my kids to be respectful, then I am going to have to deal with disrespectful kids. All. The. Time. Character building is a part of our curriculum as well as family Bible time, which is how we start our day. Starting our day with Scripture is the best way that I can improve my character and the character of my kids.
I could go on and on about the reasons why we homeschool, but after 7 years of curriculum hunting and school planning these are the pros and cons that top my list.
Amy: Private School
I work at a private, Christian school in Nashville, TN, and all three of my kids attend. Why Christian education? First, I do NOT have my children at a Christian school to “separate” them from the “others.” This is actually contrary to my worldview. Second, it’s counterproductive to slap the name of Christ on a school that is supposed to exist for education, and yet fails to do so with excellence. I am unwilling to put my kids in a school with a Christian label if they are not being educationally prepared for life after graduation. So why did I choose this educational path for my children? I believe that learning through a worldview that compliments mine equips my children to engage the culture around them. An athlete does not take his spot on the field without preparation, and a soldier does not enter the battle without a mission; I want my kids to be equipped to face the world and to love and serve the people in it. I want them to be in classrooms with highly intelligent teachers who love science, literature, history, algebra, calculus…and Jesus. I want them to see rational, knowledgeable, logical adults who love Christ with their heart, soul, and MIND.
Another reason I love our school is that it is a pre-K to 12th grade institution. We all have the same schedule. I want to be home together, and I could not manage schedules of three different children in three different schools.
These are just two of the several reasons my husband and I have chosen this method of education for our kids. Though I love our school of choice, a private school does have a lack of socio-economic diversity. Most students in our school come from middle class families, and, though there is some diversity among students in regard to race, religion,1 culture, etc., there is not extreme poverty. As a school, we try to serve the underprivileged, but my kids won’t see it everyday sitting next to them in reading class. This is something to consider when making the decision for your family. We’ve decided the benefits are worth the investment.
Misti: Public School
When Amy first asked me to write about my choice of public schools, I thought it would be fairly easy. I have, in fact, found that is difficult to put into words something I have “felt” all of my life, namely, that public schools are the best option for me. I should preface the rest of my remarks by telling you that both of my parents taught in public schools for more than 25 years each, I attended public schools (I did attend a Christian kindergarten and a private, Christian college), I have worked in public schools for seventeen years, and my children attend public schools. I am unashamedly a proponent of public schools. I believe in the nobility of serving every child who comes to your door to the best of your ability regardless of race, religion, ability, or socioeconomic status. I believe in public education for the masses; I believe it is a good fit for most children.
First, the vast majority of public school teachers that I know are competent in their subject matter and genuinely love their students; every school year I have felt like my children have been taught by someone who understands content and methods of teaching, does his/her best to meet my boys’ needs, and cares for my children.
Next, I think the public school environment reflects the real world my children will live in as adults. Good and bad people exist in the world, just as they exist in public school. I would rather help my children navigate choosing appropriate friends and facing difficult decisions while they are still under my roof where I can still offer guidance rather than their encountering these things for the first time once they are gone from my house.
Third, I believe that I have a responsibility as a Christian to know unsaved people in order to build relationships with them in order to be able to share Christ with them one day. This applies both to my own life when I work in a public school and also to the lives of my children as they attend school with unsaved peers.
Finally, I must confess that I have a love/hate relationship with testing. I believe there is too much testing in public schools, but I do value the idea of accountability that can be gained from testing (within reason). Public schools work for me and my family; maybe they are the best option for you as well.
What are some of your reasons for the decisions you have made? Do you have any questions or concerns about your child’s education? We would love to hear from you in the comments! Maybe your questions or experiences can help other parents make the best decision for their family.
- Neither students nor their parents have to claim to be Christians, and this is not the case in all Christian schools. However, it is required of employees. ↩
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5 thoughts on “School Choice”
Growing up I attended a private Christian school and then I was homeschooled. Currently, my children attend public school. I can relate to the pros and cons of all choices. I appreciate this balanced take on what can be a divisive conversation.
One of the best articles this blog has produced. My family is about to return to America and we have big desicions to make concerning our daughters’ education. Thanks for this.
You ladies definitely have me wanting to consider all three options! My wife and I have not made any firm decisions since we’re not even pregnant yet but this will be a resource when the time comes to think about it.
Amy, excellent, excellent article, and special thanks to your friends who contributed as well. One size doesn’t fit all, and in some places, especially overseas, there are not multiple options. Looking back, I guess we did all three, at least briefly, at one time or another. Thank you.
Excellent article. Thank you Amy, Ana and Misti for sharing your ideas based on experience.