By DR. FRED HALL
QUESTION: My husband and I can’t agree on where to send our child to school next year — an expensive private Christian school, or a public school where she’ll encounter God knows what. Neither of us is budging. How do we decide?
Thanks for this question, reader. This is such an important one to consider, as your child will get a lot of their development and formation during school hours. School, whether private or public, has so many benefits and risks. As a believer, I know this weighs heavily on your mind and heart.
What I have come to find out over the years is that children are resilient and can mostly fit into any environment as long they feel love, acceptance, and freedom to grow and thrive. One of the first sub-questions to answer is this: Will my child find these attributes in both the public or private school setting? Is the setting at public school free from overworked and burned-out teaching staff, or are they renewed and refreshed in their commitment to teaching? Does the school and/or teaching staff have a track record of eliciting success and healthy development of their students? What do other parents say about this school or teacher?
Set up a meet-the-teacher or school visit and ask the necessary questions regarding classroom and teacher expectations, discipline and management, academic competency, and proficiency. You can use this information to make informed decisions about what your child will most likely experience and need from the school environment.
Remember that your child is designed to be an “image bearer” and as such should be able to be “salt and light” no matter where they go. A public school will be no more a mission field than a private one will. Conversely, a private school will be no more a haven of rest and spiritual championship than a public one will. The atmosphere and environment do indeed play a part of that, but the real issue is the child in relationship to their peers and the faculty/administration.
There are many Christian educators, parents and students in traditional public schools, and your child will most likely be developed and nurtured there. The real issue is the reinforcement that you and your husband give to the school agenda.
Remember that we are “saved to be sent” to the world. Whether at a public or private school, the mandate is the same: “Go and make disciples.” What a great testimony and aspiration for all our children, to herald the name of Christ to all peoples everywhere.
Lastly, remember, there is no right or wrong choice — only more helpful or less helpful to your child. Pray, check it out, ask your child, and walk in faith, knowing you are doing the best for your child. You can always change it if it doesn’t work. Go, change the world!
Dr. Fred Hall is a licensed professional counselor (LPC), supervisor, life and leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, couples, families and organizations in training, speaking, consulting and clinical practice. He does clinical work at Cornerstone Counseling in Jackson