Should you homeschool your kids, put them in private school, or put them in public school? This seems to be a common topic for young parents, as well as one that stirs up strong debates in christian communities. I have a strong opinion on this, and I think the answer is clear.
Here’s what I think you should do: You should pray about it, trust God, and then make a decision that would be best for your child.
We’re all too familiar with the tragedies we’ve seen over the recent years at schools. There has been Jonesboro, Columbine, the Amish School in Pennsylvania, and most recently the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Shortly after each occurrence there are, understandably, many people who think the best path forward is to pull their kids out and keep them home for school – forever.
I’ve heard similar comments about theaters after the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, or malls after the shooting in the Oregon mall, or summer camps after numerous stories of kids getting hurt there. So what do we do? Do we eventually end up in a place where we never leave our house? Will this solve the problem?
When fear drives our decisions, we typically don’t make good ones.
Just last week a young dad asked me to go to breakfast to talk about public school vs homeschool. He had done research, read books, asked others their opinion on it, so he wanted me to weigh in on it as well. We had a great conversation over breakfast.
This is what I didn’t say:
- I didn’t tell him public school was the ONLY way to go. I’ve heard of others taking this stance when it comes to homeschool. I think that’s unfortunate.
- I didn’t tell him I was doing it, therefore he should.
- I didn’t tell him many negatives about homeschooling. Instead, I focused on what I perceive to be the strengths of public school.
- I didn’t tell him our kids would ALWAYS do public school, no matter what.
Many people are surprised when they find out our kids are in public school. Many assume we homeschool because we have foster and adopted kids. Not us. Our kids are thriving in public school, and we love it.
Here are my top reasons our kids are in public school:
1. They are meeting many great people. Yes, they have met many new friends. Black kids, white kids, hispanic kids, church-going kids, muslim kids, you name it. Their school seems to have it. It doesn’t stop there, though. Both of their teachers are great. God provided each child with exactly the type of person to best lead them. Their principal is sharp, and the support staff couldn’t be better.
2. They are learning to practice submission and obedience with someone outside of the home. This one is big for us. Our kids’ teachers lead differently than we do. Their expectations are different, and the way they communicate is different. Our kids are learning to adapt, and learning that authority exists beyond my wife and me.
3. They are discovering, facing, and working through their insecurities. One of my sons gets all uptight about his hair. The other one, not so much. One is a ladies man. The other, not so much. One always wants to lead, and is frustrated when others don’t want to follow. The other, not so much. I’ve been able to process these moments with them. I’ve shared stories of my childhood and what I learned going through similar circumstances.
4. Their experiences are providing me with great teachable moments. Where do babies come from? Why are some people mean? Why doesn’t their friend believe in Jesus? Why would their friend’s dad leave home? These questions don’t threaten me. They help me. Each question is like a softball lob waiting for me to knock it out of the park. My boys and I have talked through all of these. My answers might not have been the best, but I gave them answers none the less.
5. They are learning to care for others, and to serve them. When my wife and I found out their was a child with special needs in my son’s class, we asked the teacher to put our son near him so that he could help him. What a gift. His teacher would update us on how well our son was helping him to learn to read, and to get quiet at the appropriate times. Our other son has learned about the importance of trying to protect girls. We’ve talked to him about offering them his strength, like opening doors.
I could list many other reasons, but in most cases, they fall somewhat under these headings. A good book on public school is Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School.
What have you chosen, homeschool or public school? Why?