Choosing a school is arguably one of the most important decisions parents make as their children grow from the preschool years into formal schooling. Over the course of a child's K-12 education, they spend thousands and thousands of hours in their school context; it is safe to say that a school has a profound influence on our children. Nowadays, there are so many factors for parents to consider as they seek to make the best schooling choices for their children. For many, there are myriad opportunities--private schools, public schools, and robust homeschooling options.
A variety of factors may be considered in this crucial decision-making process--location, tuition, extra-curricular options, class size, and more. These are all important considerations. On a deeper level, parents may want to consider questions such as:
- What is the school's educational philosophy?
- What differentiates the school's curriculum from others?
- Who do I want my child to become, and what context will be for them to grow and develop?
"Who do I want my child to become?" is a question that one mother, Abby Rettstatt, had on her mind as the oldest of her six children approached the age of formal schooling. The following is adapted from a conversation with Abby entitled "Weighing Educational Options: A Homeschool Mom's Perspective" on the "Navigating Your Child's Education" podcast.
"In my own experience of homeschooling my six children and then each of them attending private school for eighth grade through high school graduation, I can honestly say that I loved our family, loved our homeschooling experience, and loved our private school experience. The following are a few thoughts on this topic from my own journey.
In my family's journey of weighing out these decisions, my husband Doug and I had the opportunity to see families around us that helped us make the choices we thought best for our six children. As the youngest of five children myself who all chose to home-school their own children in one way or another, I could see that their families were different. The relationships they had with one another were incredibly close. Their kids were all very engaging, respectful, and fun to be around. We looked at their families and thought, "We want our family to look like that." We concluded that this was the result of their decision to homeschool. In our decision-making process, we did not see that there were many (if any) real "cons" for our family. The only possible "con" would be my choice to sacrifice doing something else with my kids--this would essentially become my full-time job. And the "pros" that we considered--our desire to impact our kids' character and faith, our desire for our family to be close, the flexibility of homeschooling, having the opportunity to cater to my kids' educational learning styles, the ability to ensure that education was fun and interactive for our kids--were numerous.
Many families choose to homeschool their children all the way through high school. For our family, we decided from the beginning of our kids' educational journeys that we wanted to send them to school once they reached a certain age for several reasons. Although there are many opportunities for activities like music, theatre, and sports, in the community at large and even specifically for homeschoolers, I knew that with six children, it would be entirely too much driving to go to so many different activities. Sending them to school once they got older and needed outlets for these types of activities made the most sense for us since all of them were offered in one place. I also wanted my children to be in a classroom setting at that point in their educational journey.
As parents, God has given us such a gift by giving us children. I feel that it is our responsibility to make choices about raising them, and raising them in a way that points them back to the Lord. I think that God has called us all uniquely, in the unique circumstances that He has placed us in. I know that as we seek the Lord on what He would have us do when it comes to our kids' education, He will prompt us--whether it's homeschooling, private school, or public school. Oftentimes, these choices require sacrifice (of time, energy, etc.). But I know that whatever God calls us to, He has promised to equip us. When we choose to step out in faith and know that He will equip us for what He has called us to, the blessings we will receive far outweigh any sacrifices."