Before my husband and I even got married, we talked about a lot of our plans for the future...kids, how many, and the inevitable “What about school?” Both of us have education degrees and have spent time as classroom teachers, so this is an issue that merited some thought and discussion on our part. My husband went to public school, and I spent K-12th grade at a small private school. Both of them had their merits, of course. As we looked at our options, we came to the conclusion that as long as we are living in a good school district, our first choice for our children would be public school.
I will put a disclaimer here that this post is about the decisions we have made for our family, and how we arrived at those decisions. I don’t mean it to be judgmental of the choices of others. We have friends with children in public schools, private schools, parochial schools, as well as those who homeschool. Each family must arrive at their own decision, hopefully one that is prayerfully reached. Children can be educated in many different ways.
Our girls are currently in preschool in a private Christian school, and M will attend there when he is old enough. However, when they reach kindergarten, they will transfer to our local public school. We do love their current school, but in all honesty, even if we had not already decided on public school, we could not currently afford the tuition to keep them enrolled there.
Why not keep them in a Christian school? Besides the aforementioned finances, our children live in a pastor’s household, and our church is a traditional Southern Baptist congregation. That means, we are at church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. Our children, for all practical purposes, right now are living in a “Christian bubble.” It is a pretty sheltered existence. The Bible teaches us to be “in the world but not of the world.” Our children need to experience this on some level before they graduate high school and move on to college. Will I miss them coming home at the end of the school day and singing fun songs about Bible stories and quoting the scripture they have learned at school? Absolutely. But a huge part of our responsibility as parents is to teach our children about God’s word in our homes.
Why not homeschool? I just mentioned that my husband and I both have education degrees. In fact, I have two. That said, I believe homeschooling is a calling, and it (to this point) is not one that I have felt on my life. I would never totally discount the possibility, especially if we were in a situation where we were in a poor public school district and there was no viable private/Christian school option, but for now that is a non-issue. As it turns out, our oldest daughter is an extremely strong-willed child. Because of her personality, she doesn’t like to receive instruction from me...on anything...that could be her school work, learning how to dribble a basketball...anything. However, she is a sponge when she is at school and thrives in that academic environment. She is a very compartmentalized child. Teachers teach, Mommies do mommy things. That’s the way it is. Homeschooling for us would be a very difficult road. God is smart. He knew we were going to have a headstrong child before we did, and He did not lead us toward homeschooling. And although I would likely have an easier time actually teaching K, she is a child who needs to be around other children. She has a personality where she could very easily isolate herself. While most of the home-schooled kids I know are very well-socialized, normal kids, if K were home-schooled, she could easily fall into that stereotype of the home-schooled child who is not.
Thankfully, our parsonage is in a very good public school zone, so we are very comfortable with our decision. Will there be an adjustment period this fall as MJ moves from a private Christian school where there are 10 children in her class to a regular-sized public school kindergarten class? Of course there will be. There will also be the adjustment of half-day to full day, and uniforms to no uniforms. That last one will be a biggie for MJ. Our structured girl loves her uniforms...”no uniform” days completely throw her for a loop. That said, though, every child who is entering kindergarten this fall will be making an adjustment on some level. Even having been a public school teacher, I’m already getting those “Mama butterflies” about my little girl moving on to a new phase of her life. But we are entering this phase of life prayerfully and optimistically. (Remind me I said that when kindergarten enrollment starts this spring...)