How We Do School – A Guest Post from Sharon

It’s amazing to me how quickly the summer has flown by and here we are: Back to School this month. Did someone press a fast forward button?

Thank you so much to everyone who has shared their school choice stories. It’s been wonderful to hear how others do it and to be reminded of why I’m doing what I’m doing. Today, Sharon shares her story.

Describe your family.

We have two children, a boy age 8 entering third grade in the fall and a girl, age 6 entering first grade.

What state do you live in?

Maryland

What’s your educational background (yours and spouse)?

My husband and I both attended public schools and we both have Bachelor’s degrees in education. He taught vocal music in elementary school for five years. I taught general elementary school for 8 years.

What were “must haves” for your children’s education?

Strong academics in a safe, encouraging environment that also fit our tight budget were must haves. We never considered Biblical teaching as a must because we would always be the primary teachers of our faith. That responsibility rests on our shoulders no matter where our children are educated.

How did you research your decision?

Having taught in public schools, we were aware of the strong academics of both our state school system as well as our local school. Since I’d taught elementary school I knew the curriculum requirements for the elementary grades. We did look at our local school’s state test scores, to ensure there were no surprises. We also spoke to families in our area about the local school and received good feedback.

We briefly looked at a private Christian school in our area. However, the tuition cost quickly eliminated it. Homeschooling was tossed around, but was never a serious option for us. At the time, I had a negative attitude toward homeschooling because of experiences with some homeschooled children I had taught. But, there were other considerations, too. The curriculum costs of homeschooling, though cheaper than private, still didn’t fit our budget, and I didn’t feel adequate to the time management necessary for successful homeschooling.

How did you come to that conclusion?

Public School was the most obvious choice for us.  Neither of our children had unusual needs that would have driven us to homeschooling or private school. Since safety was not a problem for our local school and the academics were strong we felt their needs could best be met through the public schools. There may come a time when we reconsider.

What benefits are you now reaping from your decision?

Both of our children are developing strong academic skills. I love watching their excitement grow as they learn new information and skills. Each of their teachers has had different strengths which met different needs. I try to volunteer in their classrooms regularly. So far, this has strengthened our relationships with their teachers so that when an issue arises, it can be handled quickly and easily.

What advice would you give to families considering or reconsidering this decision?

Start with an open mind and do your homework. Talk to families who’ve made each choice, especially families whose children have completed their schooling. Those in the middle of it see it differently than those who have finished it. I’ve met more people who were homeschooled in the past few years and my attitude about it has changed. If the need were to arise, I would be more willing to try it now than I was a few years ago.

There are many things to consider when making education choices for your children. I believe the primary purpose of school is academics. But, I also understand that there are individual needs that must be considered. Safety, social skills, time and money commitments, are each part of the picture and should be carefully considered.

Sharon is a stay at home mom and a work in progress, still figuring out this whole Mom thing. When she finds a good grocery deal, a parenting tip or a recipe she’s made, she shares them at her blog, Unfinished Mom.

How have you learned from other moms as regards YOUR children’s schooling?

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Comments

  1. AllieZirkle says:

    This is a great post! My husband is a teacher and I work full time outside the home so I can completely relate to the choice to use public school. We toss around the idea of home school, once my husband finishes his MS Electrical Engineering as we’re hoping I can stay home. Until then, I can totally relate to Sharon.

    I love this question- have you learned from other moms? Education is something I have NEVER discussed with friends. I’ve never sought out others’ opinions on this topic, which makes me think, “Why haven’t I?”

    PS- Sharon’s link “Today, Sharon shares her story.” is bad.

  2. My boys go to the public schools in our town. They have done wonderfully, but if things changed I would pull them and home school. I teach 2nd grade in a different town, but I would not want my kids going to school in my district. My district has, unfortunately, become test taking crazy. I would not want my own kids subjected to what I have to subject my poor students to every week. It’s a hard position to be in when people ask my opinions.

    • @Amy Lynne, Amy, I understand where you’re coming from. The last school I taught in was very heavy on gathering data (i.e., taking tests). I would not have sent my children there. Much too stressful. Fortunately, we had already moved to a completely different school system before my son started kindergarten.

  3. I agree that Maryland schools are some of the best in the country (I live in HoCo, with the best of the best), and we also have an extremely tight budget, but even at that, I think we will still either home school or send our children to private school when they are school age. I agree that it is the parent’s responsibility to teach their children Bible and Biblical principles, but that doesn’t mean that no one else is teaching them. Education simply cannot be separated from the worldview in which it was framed, and in a public education, which is necessarily “non-religious”, that worldview is one on shifting sands without any firm foundations. Someone once put it this way: there is no such thing as a “vanilla education”, i.e. an education that is un-flavored by any sort of worldview or belief. It’s either a Christian education or a non-Christian education. My heart is burdened by all the Christian families I see whose children emerge from their public school education, either apathetic or rebellious toward the Christian faith they were taught at home and church. It seems like, too often, the influence of parents and church family is not enough to counteract the tremendous influence of teachers and peers.

    I hope this is taken in the sense in which I feel it as I type – not one of criticism and judgment but one of concern and love for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s true that not every Christian child is damaged by a public school education, but in my experience it happens far more often than not, and my heart aches for those parents – and for their children.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Anne, I agree that “there is no neutral,” but at the same time, I don’t think that homeschool or private Christian school is a guarantee of anything either. (And I chose homeschool.)

      Unfortunately, there is no sure fire way to bring our kids up right, except a lot of prayer and continually asking God for wisdom and direction.

      • @Jessica Fisher, It’s definitely true – it’s not like you can force a child to be a godly devoted Christian when they leave the home – that’s where our God-given freedom of choice shows up in a big way. But in my observation, it helps tremendously when the odds are stacked in their favor because they are continuously surrounded by Godly people and Godly training and Godly wisdom rather than their wordly counterparts. And certainly education and the educational environment is not the only thing that goes into developing the spiritual life of a child, but in my opinion, it’s such a huge factor that its power simply cannot be overlooked or underestimated.

        • @Anne, I completely understand where you are coming from. I guess I’ve just had different experiences. I know as many families who sent their kids to private Christian schools or homeschooled and then their children rebelled against their faith as I do families who chose public school and their children rebelled against their faith. We spend a lot of time talking to our children about how to defend their faith. Even in Kindergarten my son was adamant to his friends, “God is REAL.” But, as Jessica said, there are no guarantees. We continually pray and seek God’s wisdom in every situation. And, as has been stated throughout this series – Every family must make the school choice decision that is best for their family.

  4. I love your honesty in this blog! It seems that the choice we make in how we educate our child(ren) has become a hot topic to be avoided as much as politics or religion. And it’s unfortunate that it has become this way.

    We homeschool our children and my husband is in the midst of a transition to teaching program. This program required a move away from a school district that was less than desirable to an area with a multiple of choices. So much so that we are considering the possibility of sending the kids to public school (charter in our case) when they hit the high school years. Open discussion where a variety of experiences…both failures and successes…can be shared is crucial for us to make informed decisions as parents.

    If we do our job as parents to lay the foundation of why they believe what they believe and assist our kids in making their faith their own always remaining on our knees in prayer, I believe we have to trust that God will honor that and protect them as they spread their wings. We are called to insulate our children from the world, not isolate them. God calls each family to do that in different ways in different seasons of life.

    Keep up the comments….I’m reading avidly as we pray about what God will have us do to prepare our kids over the next couple of years!

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