Where Should My Child Go to School?

My oldest child just turned five, which means he will be starting kindergarten in just a few short months.  After wondering where on earth the time has gone, my immediate reaction then becomes a little bit of panic regarding the school situation: Where should my child go to school?  

Should I homeschool him?  Should he go to the private church-based school where he has attended preschool for the last two years?  Should we send him to the public school district where both my husband I attended all 13 years and where I taught after graduating from college?

This decision, I’m convinced, is going to give me an ulcer.

Perhaps the decision seems so momentous because I know it will have a lasting impact on the life of my child, or maybe because there isn’t an absolute right and wrong. After all, the Bible doesn’t tell us explicitly “Thou shalt send your child to public school” or “Thou shalt homeschool.”  There are advantages and disadvantages to every option!  Although I certainly do not have all the answers (we haven’t even made our final decision yet), I want to share some thoughts and resources that are guiding us along the way.

1.  Pray about it.  Prayer is critical in a decision of this magnitude.  We must communicate with God daily for His direction for our family and where He wants each of our children to be educated.  We must plead with Him to let His path be clearly evident to us.  No matter how much research I do or how much wise counsel I seek, nothing takes the place of prayer.  Although I know His answer won’t be as obvious as being written in the clouds (which would be great), I can depend on Him to guide my heart … even if it is only the gentlest of whispers.

2.  Seek the counsel of faithful mentors and friends.  Find families that you admire and ask what has worked for them and what led them to make that decision for their child.  Recognize that what works for one family might not work for yours … but be open-minded and willing to listen.

3.  Explore the options.  Visit the schools you are considering and observe friends who homeschool their children.  Ask God prior to each visit to guide your heart in the path He has already chosen for your child.

4.  Do some research … but not too much.  You can literally drive yourself crazy with all of the material out there meant to sway you one way or another.  Each writer/author is passionate about the path that he/she has chosen for their family and will present compelling arguments that convince you to do the same.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll read one thing and convince yourself that’s what you should do and then read the opposite argument and then feel compelled to do that!  Throughout your research, ask God to guide your heart … not someone else.

Here are some resources we found to be very helpful as we tried to keep an open mind about all options:

 

Public School:

Going Public by David and Kelli Pritchard

This book approaches public schools as an opportunity to train our children to be lights in the world.  The authors make the argument that public schools can provide excellent opportunities for teaching our children how to handle situations the world might throw at us in God-honoring ways while they are still under our loving guidance and care.  I found this book to be a great parenting resource in general, whether you choose to send your child to public school or elsewhere.

Julia DesCarpentrie also shares similar thoughts in her essay “Public School Mission Field“.

Homeschooling:

In this article, Tricia Goyer shares the extensive benefits of homeschooling her children, such as discipling them, spending quality time with them, and protecting them from unhealthy influences.  Tricia also shares how God helped her cope with challenges and doubts throughout her journey as a homeschooling mother.

My friend Stacie also shares “5 Reasons she and her husband have chosen to homeschool their children.”

Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson

This book is a bit intimidating upon first glance because of its large size.  I found the first chapter to have the most influence on the reasons this family chose to homeschool and the remaining chapters were simply resources to help others in their homeschooling endeavor.

Private School:

The American Association of Christian Schools shares many of the benefits to a Christian education.

(And if you just want something lighthearted in the midst of all your decision making, check out Jon Acuff’s list of Public, Private and Homeschooling Stereotypes and have yourself a laugh.

Finally, we must recognize that what is right for our family is not necessarily right for everyone.  God has led each family as He sees fit … the important part is that we are reverently seeking His guidance for our family and asking for the courage and strength to do what He has asked of us.  We must give grace to our friends and neighbors who have chosen different paths under God’s direction.

*The resources shared in this post are solely for the benefit of the reader and are not officially endorsed or affiliated with MomLifeToday.com or Family Life.  

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13 thoughts on “Where Should My Child Go to School?

  1. Don’t forget that a hybrid of these options is also possible! Starting this fall, my eldest child (5yo) will be in a classical enrichment program two days each week and homeschooled the rest of the week. We have an excellent public school a stone’s throw from our house and several private schools within easy driving distance, and originally planned to homeschool full-time. When we decided that I needed more time to devote exclusively to editing and writing (and in return, more time with the children without multitasking), we seriously considered all options. I just can’t see paying full private school tuition for kindergarten, nor did I want the public school to dictate my family’s schedule; I really prefer maintaining control of my child’s education, without necessarily doing all of the teaching myself. I feel we get the best of both worlds by using a private program that is designed to complement homeschooling.

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    • That sounds like a great plan! Thanks for sharing!

      We unfortunately don’t have a hybrid option where we live, but I know Amanda from OhAmanda.com does this in her city and LOVES it!

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  2. And it’s not a once-and-done decision. You can try something for a year or two, then make a change later, depending on God’s direction and the needs of your child and family.

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    • Great point! This is something my husband and I have discussed as well. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Another fantastic resource is the book “So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling” by Lisa Whelchel. It has short chapters that give a picture of a typical day of a dozen different kinds of homeschooling families. There are so many ways to homeschool & it was helpful to me to know there is no one right way. 🙂

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  4. We sent our children to school and they hated it and now we home-school. In retrospect I wish I had asked why should we send our child to school? what do they need from life and education right now? We weren’t convinced they were ready anyway and we should have listened to that. Now I wouldn’t want them anywhere else but I know lots of happy kids who thrive in school. It isn’t a done deal, they might want back to school at some point and that will be ok. Hope not, I am having a ball.

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  5. Put your children into a Montessori school. You will never look back… for more info see my magazine and webiste.
    xxx

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  6. Thanks for this post! We’ve been struggling to decide what is best for our children (9,6,3,1). Like someone already said its not a one time decision…. Our oldest 2 have been in public school but I, in particular, have been feeling led to homeschool. It’s a difficult decision. Prayer and talking with others as well as taking with our children about it has helped us tremendously.

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  7. Great article and resources! Another thought is that what works for one child might not work for another. As crazy as it might sound, one child might excel in public school, another by being homeschooled, and another through a private Christian school. Each decision can have a different result even within the same family.

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  8. Home schooling is a big decision and I was terrified that if we took them out I might make it worse. We prayed ALOT. My husband suggested it to begin with and was supremely confident that if would be fine. Once the decision was made, I could hear God shouting ‘Go boldly!!’ whenever I wobbled.
    It was the right thing for them and they are doing well. If school isn’t working then reviewing your options is a good idea. We took the view that had we been that unhappy in a job then no one would have expected us to stay there forever, so why we expect that of them? Massively complicated decision. Once their out all you have to do is sort out how and what and when to teach them!

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