This week is National School Choice Week.
We are blessed in America to have the choice of where to send our kids to school. But it’s not an easy choice. How much did your school setting impact you as a child? Immensely.
How can you make this overwhelming decision?
Here are 7 steps for choosing your child’s school:
#1 The first thing to do is pray! Pray constantly as you investigate your options that the Lord will make it clear to you what is best for each one of your kids.
#2 Pick a good time for discussion. Let your husband know ahead of time: “I’ve been thinking about what to do for our kid’s schooling. Can we talk about it tomorrow night after the kids are in bed?” Give him a chance to think and pray about it instead of just springing all your fabulous ideas and questions on him. If your child is in high school, let them in on the discussion, too.
#3 Visit each school option yourself. It’s okay to ask around for your friends’ opinions of different schools. But nothing will be as telling as you going to visit the actual classroom to meet the actual teachers and principals and secretaries. Our media culture makes us panicky when we hear about something terrible happening in a school in another state or in another city. When we hear the news, we imagine the situation also applies to our local school. But schools are not like McDonalds. They are not the same in every location. They vary greatly depending on the district leadership, community, parent involvement, and principal. Homeschooling also comes in many varieties. If you are thinking of homeschooling, ask a homeschooling friend if you can come over for a day to see how she does it. Leave your kids at home so that you can quietly observe to see what an actual day looks like. Ask her to show you the paperwork she needs to turn in to the state. If you didn’t love her style, find another homeschooling friend to observe.
#4 What should you look for when you visit?
- When you call to schedule the visit, are the people kind? Are they respectful to you?
- When you visit the school, how is the security? Do you have to show ID? Are the doors locked?
- When you walk in the hallways is there artwork on the walls? Then you know the kids aren’t just doing worksheets all day.
- How are the desks set up? Are they all lined up in rows facing the front? Then they probably expect a lot of independent work. Are the desks in little clusters? That may indicate they allow the children to work together. They understand children are social and they harness that energy for their learning rather than trying to squash it.
- For younger elementary, do you see boxes of manipulatives in the classroom? Or do you see centers set up around the room? Then there is hands-on learning that allow children to use all their senses.
- Ask if they have recess time. How often? What do they do when there is bad weather?
- Ask about the curriculum they use. See if you can flip the textbooks, or write down the name and search online to check out the content they will be learning.
#5 Think about how the school will encourage good character or godly character. In one of my children’s public school classrooms, the class rule poster hanging in the classroom was “do to others as you would have them do to you.” Sound familiar? The Golden Rule! The teacher was using Scripture as the guiding rule for her class just without the Bible reference. There are also school wide behavior programs that promote respect, responsibility, kindness, trying your best. All these are part of Godly character. At the public school, they do not reference the Bible, but I connect this at home. “Oh, they are talking about kindness! God says to be kind in Ephesians 4:32!” Look for this in Christian schools, too. Memorizing Bible verses is not the same thing as developing godly character. Look for how they are applying God’s principles for daily classroom life.
#6 Ask about enrichment or special education services. If your child were to need special help or extra challenge, is the school equipped to help?
#7 If after much discussion and prayer, you and your husband disagree on what to do, he wins. We are called to submit to our husbands. That’s the way God has structured our families. If you believe that he is wrong, God will take care of it. He will be responsible before God for the decision. You are responsible before God to obey your husband.
After thinking and praying and visiting our school, we chose to send our children to public school. If you want to know why, I explain it here. I do not think public school is the right choice for everyone. But for us in this time and place, God made it clear this is where our kids should be.
How do you school your kids? How did you decide that was right for you?