Wednesday, August 4, 2010

School Decisions: One Family's Call

First guest post!

From Erin at Home With the Boys, who also recently started a awesome blog for boy moms over here.

And who made my ovaries quiver with that photo below.


Big J will be starting school in a year.

How did that sneak up on us? I SWEAR I was JUST holding him for the first time, marveling at his white-blond hair and realizing "We are taking this boy home!"


And now he is this goofy big kid ready to tackle the world of education.Summer 2010 003bwcrop

With this momentous occasion bearing down on us, I realized I had never made mention in Bloggy Land of our choice for school for our children. And with a blog called "Home with the Boys," people are rightfully making some assumptions.

Maybe you don't care about our school decision, but I'm going to tell you anyways because Missy gave me the floor here!

So what are we doing for school?

We are sending our children to public school.

Now, let me take a second to say that I have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING against homeschooling or private school. School decisions are very personal and specific to each family and I see the advantages in each realm of education.

I can only speak to what we feel God is leading US to do with OUR children.

So why public school for our kiddos?

There are a few reasons, but it really boils down to two:

#1 - We are all called to be a light in the darkness, the salt of the earth, a witness to Jesus Christ and the Good News.

In my experience, these is no atmosphere quite like the public school system for our children to live out this calling. I'm not asking for my children to be overly outspoken evangelists, but I do pray that they will be prepared to have an answer for their faith (1 Peter 3:15) and that they will know the joy of God using them to further His Kingdom.

#2 - Our children will have to encounter the world and its influences at some point.

While we want to shelter them from everything possible, we also want these first encounters with the world to occur while we are able to walk them through it. To teach them that we are in the world, but not of it. To be sounding board as they discover the real manifestations of evil in this world and decide how they will respond as a follower of Christ.

Are there reasons to homeschool? Yes.

Are there reasons to send your kids to private school? Yes.

But God calls each of us in different ways, and I pray He will protect and bless our family as we walk in what He is asking us to do.


Erin is at Home with the Boys in Nebraska after five years as an elementary music teacher. Her Savior, her med-student husband and her two lively boys are the loves of her life - and the inspiration for her blog! She loves to cook, bake, craft & read as well, so there's always a little of that thrown in on the blog from time to time! And through it all, you'll probably find her breaking out in random song. A co-founder and creator of the M.O.B. Society, she also contributes to Gather Inspirit. She tweets at @homewiththeboys.

A word from Missy:

We intend to send our kids to public school. That's why we live in the burbs, instead of in the Big City where most of our friends and family are. It's always been our plan to send our kids to public school, partly for the reasons stated above, partly because it's paid for, and partly because, what with my education degree and all, I have absolutely no earthly desire to homeschool. There is a new classical Christian school near here, and I salivate about sending our kids there. You know, when we win the lottery. But for now, public schools are us. That's the plan.

So, Eva Rose starts kindergarten next week at a private, secular school.

Never planned that. But that is what she needs at this time. And I am fully aware that some of our babies may need homeschooling, some may need us to cough up money for that Classical Christian school, and some might even end up in (ahem) reform school.

Y'all, I would not be surprised if at some point we have five or six kids in five or six different schools. Because God gets a kick out of running me ragged. And I am so thankful that as parents, we have so many options available!


  1. We don't have to make our decision quite yet but we have been pondering this, as we are elementary teachers in the public system and see things that really make us question the influences that our children face. We are going to try the public school system and one of the deciding factors for us was exactly your point number two. I have a friend whose husband has been a youth pastor for many years. He and his wife (a colleague of mine) have kept their kids in the public system because he has seen so many teenagers who have been in private schools and when they meet the real world, they have no capacity for dealing with it. They fall apart. He and his wife feel that it's better to teach them how to be Christians in the real world as they go, rather than just dropping them into it at either high school or college age.

  2. WOW...I was just telling my husband that I didn't think that there was anyone else in the christian blogosphere like us...planning to send our kids to public school. I know you'll hear all the "young plants unable to face trials in world" arguments that I've heard against it...but for us it came down to OUR GOD IS BIG ENOUGH to take care of our kids...and we must obey what we feel God is let them be salt and be in the world and not of it. Here's the hard thing...even if the kids haven't reached a vocal position about their faith when they start school...WE are to instruct them in spiritual things anyway(Ps 78)...and WE can be salt and light in their schools even before they can. If you aren't going on the field trips, being lunch parents, or going to school extracurricular s how are you planning to be in the world and not of it?? We will be praying for you...please pray for us! Thank you for letting us know that we're not alone in this calling.

  3. Good for you! We've actually tried all 3 options (Yes, I like change. But I'm trying to restrict it to my hairstyle for the near future, for the good of all involved). All three options had their good points and bad points, and for now, public school works beautifully for us. At times I have been very committed to one of the other options; I've learned the hard way that God isn't really interested in what I'm committed to. :) The one piece of advice I would give is related to that: don't get married to your choice and make it "yours". If God tugs you in a different direction after a season, don't be afraid. If He is always in your decision - year in and year out - it will always work out, even if you wind up not where you thought you'd be when you started. Kinda like life that way, eh?

    Very best of luck. And here's hoping (and praying) that your public school experience is as joyful and full of creative learning as ours is.

  4. "I've learned the hard way that God isn't really interested in what I'm committed to"

    Oh my word, Tari. That's about one of the most brilliant things I have ever heard.

  5. Erin, Thank you so much for posting about this decision. My girls are in high school, middle school and elementary--all in public schools.

    Our decision--based on a lot of different circumstances--became known by family, it was viewed with disappointment and is still looked down upon today.

    It's hard to be a light but I'm glad we're giving our girls the tools to do so.
    Thank you!

  6. It certainly is a family-by-family, child-by-child decision. Three of our children attend public school. We are homeschooling number 2 of 4. Whatever option is best for your family and child is the one you should take, with no excuses or explanations needed, in my humble opinion.

  7. I just graduated with my M.Ed and while I don't have children yet I know it is an important decision that each family needs to make for themselves. I think you have excellent decisions for public school.

  8. Public school family over here (waving hand). You pretty much summed up exactly why we chose public school for our family too. That, coupled with the fact that I am pretty sure that my oldest and I might kill each other if I homeschooled:) About half of my close friends homeschool, and sometimes I feel the need to explain myself (not sure why). I think I will definitely frame my answer a little differently now:) Thanks! (And thanks to Missy for sharing her space!)

  9. Public school momma here too ... my daughter will begin fifth grade two weeks from today. I have written about our journey and some of her opportunities to be light in the darkness if anyone would like to read it.

  10. Our kiddos are in public school too. Same reasons. We love it and God is blessing it, but we're holding to it loosely, knowing he can send us off in a different direction whenever he chooses.

    Thanks for a great post!!

  11. Your post made me sad. Especially point number two. I would have liked to hear a simple, "I don't home school because I don't want to."

    Putting your children in the path of "manifestations of evil" is never a reason to do something.

    I know many public school and home school kids that turned out just fine.

  12. I love how whenever people leave negative, critical comments, there is NEVER a blog profile to back it up. Love that.

  13. We have been thinking about this as well, and I appreciate your perspective.
    I was both home schooled and went to a Christian school, while my husband was in public school K-12. Wouldn't you know BOTH of us had bad influences on us at school, and BOTH of us had opportunities to "let our light shine!"
    Sometimes I think we put way too much pressure on ourselves with this decision, as though where the child goes to school will seal their fate to either live for God or reject Him. Ultimately, the biggest influence in your child's life is you-- their parent. If you are doing your job the way God has commanded you to, I honestly don't think your school choice matters too much in the end.
    I think the more important question is where will your child receive the best education that you are able to give him/her. Isn't that the primary reason we send our kids to school?

  14. Love the discussion going on her! Want to make sure ou all know that I am totally open to where God leads us in all areas including this one and will listen for His will as we go! Also, these aren't our ONLY reasons for public school - just the two I felt led to write about!

  15. And apparently I can't spell...good thing I'm sending them to public school.

  16. I have been following your blog for quite some time (silently). But I just couldn't not comment on this topic, because home schooling is my passion, my calling! I was a public school student k-12, my husband was a public school student k-5 and a home school student 6-12. When we got married and started talking children I told him we would NOT home school, I didn't want any anti-social, didn't know how to deal in the real world, sheltered, not as smart as the public school kids, KIDS. But guess the lady said above...God didn't care what I wanted! He had a different plan for my family! I can truly say this was a calling from God and like all callings from God when you yield to him only perfect results will follow. I have very social children, that are little genius', who are learning way more about the real world and how to deal than even I knew during my public school days, and have such a heart and passion for Jesus that there is not doubt their light is shining brightly! Am I saying that all you wonderful ladies that send your children to public school are bad...ABSOLUTELY NOT! My sister who is also my best friend and biggest supporter sends her children to public school. We take a very big interest in each others choices and we respect each others choices. This was God's calling on our family and like all callings they are different for every person and every family. I am so sorry this turned into such a long comment. My calling, My passion!

  17. Ok.. I am a new follower. I am a public educator in high school as is my husband. We actually are both coaches as well. My son is only 6 months old so I have some time to figure out what to do..and my husband and I aren't exactly on the same page on the issue (and we don't really have to be ..yet) I just read this article yesterday and I think it gives great points. I would be curious to see what you both have to say in response to it. I hope you have the time to read it.

  18. Wouldn't be awesome if all the mom's supported one another in their schooling decisions instead of needing to voice opinions about God's leading in other people's children's lives? My oldest is only 3. THREE! And I am already answering questions as to why I'm not sending him to preschool this year. Never mind the private, public debate yet . . . I most definately must not be on my game since he isn't on a waiting list for any preschools. SHEESH!
    Anyhow, I am a product of all three schooling options. My husband went to private school K-9th and public 10-12. We are both open to sending our children to public schools and are living in a district that has wonderful public schools. However, I completely agree each child is unique and will have their own story...including where they go to school. Thank you for touching on this topic :)

  19. We are a home schooling family and we LOVE it. Two of my older sisters teach in public schools and are sweet teachers. If our girls could only have them for teachers-well, then public school would be a no brainer for us : )
    Anyways, I applaud you for following what God is leading you to do. Home schooling is where He is leading us right now. But home school or public school or private school--whatever you decide there will be lots of people who disagree. It is a whole lot easier to handle those differing opinions when you know God is the one leading you on that path though.
    God Bless!!

  20. There is a homeschool method called "Classical Conversations" You might want to look into that. It has a more school like style of learning (by tutors) but still homeschooling and way cheaper than private school. Just a thought. :)

  21. Before I even had kids , I attended a panel of parents discussing school options. Between them they had done all of the standard options, some of them several . The one thing everyone agreed with unequivocally:

    * It's a new and prayerful decision for each child, each year.*

    We have found this to be so very true, especially with one of ours having complex, ever evolving special needs. Different kids, different phases, different family/life circumstances...
    I always laugh a little when I hear eager parents of young children dogmatically declaring a firm commitment to-- and sometimes the superiority of--one option or another.... and hope for their kids' sake that their thinking becomes sensitive and flexible enough to make any changes needed, because the alternative can be very damaging. Not to say that every one of your kids might not end up in the same public school district K-12! This year we have one in a special school 40 minutes away, one in a school about 20 minutes away, and two in homeschool, which is different than last year and the year before...

  22. Oh, Marian, the things I SWORE to do when my babies were younger!! It's almost guaranteeing it won't work out!!

  23. YankeeWife, I remember when I was at a wedding when I was pregnant with someone, so Shep must have been about 2, and an old lady I just met telling me "You really should homeschool." I was so irritated. The hormones didn't help. But I was like, you've known me a full 45 seconds, yet you feel you know enough about my family to tell us what we SHOULD do?? Nice to meet you, Betty Buttinsky.

  24. Andrea there are some University Model Schools in Houston which I think are the coolest things. But 1) it would still mean thousands and thousands of dollars 2) none are closer than 30 minutes away 3) did I mention I don't WANT to homeschool? ;) and 4) our neighborhood is fantastic. We moved to this part of town for the schools, and so far, we have no reason to leave them.

  25. Thanks, girlfriend for being brave enough to address this topic from a public school parent's point of view! I sooooooo agree with the idea that God calls each of us to different places according to our needs and abilities, gifts and experiences. (I,too, have friends who are on called to school their children at home, in private schools, and in the public system, and I support them all in doing what's best for their specific needs.)

    I am a public school teacher of sixth-graders, and Papa has impressed on my heart the importance of that calling. It is my mission field and ministry, and I continue to be grateful for those believing students and parents He places in my realm each year -- they are a continual source of encouragement and refreshment for me as I attend to the task of bringing salt and light into the hallways and rooms of my building.


  26. thanks for this post. my 5 year old is about to start school in two short weeks....and I also teach at public school.
    i have mulitiple degrees in this and work hard at it and LOVE my students. I get frustrated when parents just assume that homeschool is and has to be the best option. I live in the education world and wouldn't have the slightest idea how to teach kindergarten like his bubbly teacher will....
    of course all schools and educational choices have some drawbacks, and i am sure we will have our share but i have seen so many parents rule out public (or even private) school before even thinking through some of the positives. like qualified teachers who are going to love on our kids.

  27. Oops! Just realized that my comment above may not come off as intended-- it was a totally generalized statement about the issue of school choice, not a direct response to what you expressed in this post! That is, I wasn't saying that you were dogmatically declaring anything. No, that would be reading a whole lot into it and judging your heart based on nothing! Sometimes schooling is a sensitive topic, ripe for easy offense, so I Just want to be clear that this was NOT the tone or intent of my post above, ya' know? Wishing you God's best for your family and the unique paths He's preparing for each of you in this school journey.

  28. Pamm YOU are the type of teacher I hope my kiddos get :)

    Btw, y'all, I taught in a Christian school for several years. And of all the teachers there, all of whom signed a statement of faith, about 20-25% of them actually fit my definition of Christian.

    I also attended a Catholic high school. The teachers there? Oh, trust me, DON'T GET ME STARTED.

    So while I do think Christian education is great, if we went to a christian school, I would place no hopes on all my children's teachers actually being sold out to Jesus Christ themselves. No more than I would in the public school.

  29. Whoops! I commented using my "other" (outdated) website . . . St. Michael's Wife (me!) normally writes in Blog Land as Texas Preacher Woman!

    More grins!

  30. Mariann I thought your first comment was lovely!

  31. Yankee Wife & Missy,

    I totally agree. It's a very personal decision. I wish women would just support the decisions of other moms. It would make things a lot easier. Don't we all have enough "mommy guilt" without someone adding to it?

    I had someone tell me that I needed to pray about setting aside my own selfishness in order to homeschool my children.

    My daughter was 18 months old at the time.


  32. Missy, I've never commented before, but I've been enjoying your blog for some time. Thanks to Erin for this insightful (and, from reading the comments, courageous) post. Here in my hometown (West Columbia, SC), I feel a great deal of peer pressure to send my kids (2 boys, too!) to a very good, private Christian school ... that has a very good, private Christian school price tag to go with it. My husband and I are just not in a place to afford that, but several of our friends are sending their kids there. These friends (and they are dear friends) are encouraging us to send the boys to this school, saying things like "you pay for daycare now, private school is about the same cost" (ah. no.) and "don't you want your children taught in a Christian environment?" (DUH!) They mean well (don't they always?), but I feel like "less" of a mom b/c it's not an option for us ... "we should set our thermostat on 85 in the summer so we can save up enough" ... "I should grow my own wheat and kill my own chickens to save money" ... you get my point. I want our boys to be lights in the dark world. And as one commentor (is that a word?) said, parents are the ones who should be doing the raising, not the school ... ok, that was a paraphrase. ;) Erin's post has been a big encouragement to me, and I will share with my hubby. Thanks!

  33. Oh, Jayna.

    Once someone told me we weren't Christians if we got our sons circumcised. Seriously. I was only about 3 months pregnant with Shep. Didn't even know if he had a circumciser part yet!

    Mandy, I hear ya.

    I know homeschool moms get a lot of flack for their choices too.

    It is just ridiculous how we love to justify our own choices by criticizing other moms.

    ooooooo, I feel it...I feel a blog post comin on....

  34. Oh my sweet Erin, I just adore you so.

    No matter where your hearts are steered, I am just thankful that you are a mom of integrity, leaning into His grace and goodness... allowing His heart for your boys to direct your decisions.

    In the end, that's all that matters. We go forward in what we believe we're called to do and live out our decision with the deepest faith and obedience we can muster up. He'll always bless & honor our faith.

    I was a public school kid. Rowan is a bit young to start talking about school (Ahem. He's only 9 months old), but my #1 priority is to make sure he gets the best education possible and that he's in an environment where he can thrive academically and socially. For him, that might be public school, it might be private school, and (oh goodness, I hope not, I'd be a horrible teacher), it might be homeschooling. No matter what he might need, as his mom, I'm devoted to making sure he has the best that I can provide.

    I'm thankful you're that kind of mama, too. :)

  35. 25 Questions to Consider About Education Options:

  36. "I am a Christian and I send my kids to public school" - we should make a facebook page.

    Most of our friends homeschool or send the kids to Christian Schools - we are the odd balls that send our kids to public school.

    I could write a book on this topic. I totally understand that you have to look at each year and see where each child needs to be and as the body of Christ we should love and support and help parents in the decision they make , that being said - I feel like us Christian public school parents are looked down on , I have been told that I am" bad mother and I am leading my children off to death" by not homeschool them. That was a bad day. But here is my thing -Is God not bigger then public school? how can I be leading my children "off to death" if I am doing God's will? Can you ever be any safer if you are doing what God has called you do? I don't think so.

    Pray about it, do what God tells you to do and support those who are educating their children different then you.

  37. Yep. I'm a home schooling mama in the other boat. We are one of very few home schoolers in our church. We face all sorts of criticism from believers because we don't have our kids in the public schools. I'm personally fed up with being told that I am trying to protect my children or not trusting God enough or being a helicopter parent or that I'm trying to avoid the culture.

    I firmly believe that as mothers we should support each other in these and other issues because who else understands the struggles and guilt we all feel. In fact, I did write a blog post about it.

  38. For us it really has been a year to year decision. My older son, who is 15 now, was homeschooled through second grade, then went to public school for 3-7th grade,8th grade was a mix of half homeschool and half public school. This fall he will be going to a public school with an outstanding honors program that I think he will realy benefit from.

    Every family needs to decide what is best for each child each year. Nowhere in the Bible does it command us to homeschool - it's the decision of the parents. We cannot make laws that God has not given.

    I'm now 35 weeks pregnant with son #2 and I intend to homeschool him, but will be completely open to making other choices if it doesn't seem right when the time comes.

  39. I just stumbled on your blog and fell in love with it. Even though I am totally jealous that you came up with that title when "it's almost naptime" perfectly described our life here!

    Anyway, thanks for your perspective. I'm wrestling with the school decision for my almost 3 and 4 year old. My 1 year old, thankfully, doesn't need my worries about that particular subject--yet!

  40. Missy-

    I look forward to the post on how we criticize other moms to justify our choices. I've been on both sides of that coin. Most recently heard a mother at church state something to the effect that drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk was biblical and implied that it was the will of God that we do so. Really? I haven't found the verse yet that says "thought shalt drink nasty disgusting germ filled milk." Just sayin' But I also know that sometimes when mommy guilt strikes about working full time and sending my almost 2 year old to a secular daycare, I find myself critical of home school mommies just to make myself feel better.

  41. Love the guest posting. Enjoy your days with your kids Missy prior to school starting....did you ever think when they were in all their baby glory that you'd have school days to fret about...I know I didnt I was too worried about diapers and making baby food. Now I am school shopping. Big birthdays this month too so curious to know your themes but that will come I am sure. Take care. ML

  42. your blog is just adorable! I love the owls. :) And I love Erin! What a great guest post. I plan to homeschool...but I don't know for how long. Whenever God decides. If He decides school for us, it's public (because there aren't private schools here in Podunk).

  43. I NEVER get to say what I truely feel in real life. I love cyberspace! I'm usually positive.

  44. We are a homeschooling family. The majority of my friends either homeschool or send their kids to public school... not many of our friends can afford private education. :-) We're in the same boat!

    I'm a product of all 3 schooling options, and personally, they all had benefits and flaws. But my experience in public school was pretty rotten, being bullied, ridiculed, and exposed to more than I was ready for. I graduated from a Christian high school in a full rebellion (leaving the church for 5 years following hs), feeling like Christians cared more about outward obedience than a person's heart. I know this is not the case for everyone, but my experience shaped some of our decision to homeschool.

    While I don't personally agree with either of the points in this post (I want my kids to have firm roots before having them face darkness on their own), I strongly believe mothers judging each other on schooling choice is destructive and not at all productive. I appreciate that this post was non-judgemental, and Christ honoring. We can support each other and learn from each other along the way. We all love our children, and want what is best for them!

    In the end, either choice we are called to, we ALL as mothers have to rely 100% on God alone to protect our children, and pray for the salvation of their souls.

    We do the best we can, and rely on God to fulfill His plan and purpose in our children.

  45. LOVE this post. I am in a temporary living situation, and have decided to homeschool until we move somewhere permanently, when we will most likely send my 3 little ones back to public school. Having experienced both options now, I can clearly see that there are benefits and drawbacks to both. HOWEVER- people are given different gifts, and not everyone is given the ability to be a good teacher. And that's okay. That's why God calls us to do different things in our lives. Public schools need Christians, they need involved parents, and God calls some people (not all) to be in those trenches.

    But like I said, never say never, and it is always a year-by-year-child-by-child-prayer-doused decision.

  46. It is funny as parents that we have to defend our choices on how we are choosing to educate our kids. There are positive and negatives points to almost every decision that we make for our children. I resigned from teaching in the public schools after our first little girl was born. Even though there were many wonderful teachers out there that made positive impacts on their students lives, it was the students themselves that concerned me. Those who tried to be good witnesses to their peers and good role models were more often than not ridiculed and bullied for their beliefs—that were not popular believes of the world. Granted this is not always the case and many believing kids have made it through the public or private school system just fine. Everyone has had different personal experiences growing up. My husband was bullied like crazy because he was the “smart kid” and wasn’t into sports. I got made fun of because I wasn’t into sexual activities and drinking like many of my peers were. As we watch our kids grow a little older we have decided for now that we are going to try to home school. Will we do it until they graduate high school? Like others have said that completely depends on the child. One may thrive with being home schooled, the others may not. It is our job…not the schools to teach our children what our faiths focus on and try to guide our children to grow up in a manner that is worthy of serving the Lord. Public, private, or homeschooling whatever we decide, we as parents are responsible for the foundation of our kids. Right now we are mostly getting backlash from our relatives about our decision to home school…I wrote about it my blog last week…mainly their concern was the labeling of my 5 year old as a kindergartener and my kids not being socialized….

    Hot topic Erin…thanks for bringing it up…you and Stephen have a strong faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that I know you are instilling in your little guys!

    Thanks Missy for letting Erin be a guest poster!

  47. Our son goes to public school. He will start 1st grade in the fall. He was a Christian going in and now he says he is an Athiest and drops the "F" bomb all the time. Kidding, kidding.
    He is shares Jesus with kids at school. Especially his friend who told him he believes in Criss Angel. Not kidding about that. So far our experience has a been a good one. The only real problem we've had is snack comparison - why do the other kids get chips, bars, and junk food for snack and he gets a healthy one. Teachable snack moments.

  48. Thanks for this post Missy! We homeschool our kiddos, and catch a lot of heat for it. Homeschooling is a great fit for our family at this point....and I am fine and dandy with parents making decisions that are best for their family at their stage in life. Yea for not only the freedom of parents prayerfully making a decision for their family....but even more YEA! when other family can encourage and support one another!!!!! A few other topics you may want to cover for some heated, take to the grave opinions:)
    *Raw milk vs. pasturized
    *Circumcision vs. not circumcision
    *immunizations vs. not vs. delayed immunizations

    Isn't it wonderful that we live in a country where, not only it is the law that all children receive and education, but that we also have many choices as to how our children receive that education? We are blessed!

  49. Ha Julie!! NO THANK YOU!!! I'll leave all those other issues to my friend Megan at - she just loooooooves gettin her controversy on!!

  50. I have very dear friends and family in every boat. My husband and I are homeschooling right now. I'm mostly concerned with my children's heart issues and their response to the Lord. Regardless of what option anyone chooses this has to be one of the main concerns in raising our children. My husband and I feel we can best address those issues by keeping our children at home. Maybe later, we'll choose something different. We have awesome friends who are fully engaged in their public schools. And they have pretty awesome kids who are passionate for the Lord.

    Pray. Make your decision. Be confident in it. Let the chatter fall to the wayside...



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