PCS season is stressful enough without having to worry about where the kids will go to school next year.
House-hunting, cleaning, and/or selling a home are all part of the transition we must make every few years. Further, we must find new doctors, dentists, auto mechanics, and even hairstylists. A child’s schooling is an integral part of the transition, as well. But how important is it, and what do we do about it?
Our Children’s Behavior
We should start with what we believe about children’s behavior to help us decide what is best for them in terms of education. This may seem like a digression, but it is critical to establish a solid foundation by which we can decide what school is right for our children. There are times when they are so adorable, they make mom’s heart smile, or they accomplish a great feat and make dad beam with pride. There are other times when they are sneaky, manipulative, and even mean.
Children seem to be such a mixture of good and bad. We often wonder whether it is nature or nurture that makes them the way they are. Sunday school programs and churches are filled with children singing how “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and “Jesus Loves Me This I Know.” Yet these same places teach them they are sinners and the need to confess their sins. Public schools emphasize the importance of character education in the curriculum (though they don’t call bad behavior “sin”) because bad behavior negatively impacts learning. A poll from the National Center for Education Statistics listed problems like apathy and disrespect as significant challenges for teachers.
Children need homes and schools that will correct their bad behavior and guide them toward good behavior. All the knowledge in the world will do a person little good if they cannot do what is right. The good news is that the Bible provides a necessary roadmap detailing what we can and should do to help our children with their bad behavior. The 10 Commandments are frequently offered as a solution. Still, many people forget that these rules start with the words, “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Deuteronomy 5:6). God’s saving act was to be the motivation and empowerment for Israel to obey. The same is true for our children and us. We must tell and show them we love them before we expect discipline to be productive.
When Do Instruct Discipline
When should we do this educating? One chapter later in Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the Israelites that “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (6:6-7). Teaching our children to love God and obey Him should be a daily, and evenly hourly, occurrence.
How should we then educate them? God has provided order and structure to this world, and that is where our children and we need to concentrate. This order is seen everywhere so that the world becomes our classroom. This order is also vital in our behavior. For example, when we want our children to speak truth instead of lying, we can tell them lies hurt other people, and God wants them to help them be like Him, One who always speaks truth. Another approach would be to ask: “What would Jesus do?”. Though this question may be overused at times, it is still a powerful way to start a conversation with our children about how they can live good lives for the right reasons.
So, what schooling option will support this foundation?
As the parents of five grown children, my wife and I struggled with this each time we moved. At different times, we have homeschooled our children. Yet, at other times, we sent them to private Christian as well as public schools. There is much debate in the church about what is best. Still, we committed to reevaluating the decision every year (and sometimes each semester) about what was best for each individual child. A school should be the place that gives our children a perspective on reality and pushes them to live for things that provide true meaning. We want our children to live for something greater than themselves.
This type of decision takes deep reflection, wise counsel, and much prayer. Did we always make the best decision? Probably not, but we know we serve a God of grace who can use all circumstances for good (Romans 8:28). We also know that if we lack wisdom, we can “ask God who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Why not ask God today for help in this crucial decision?