Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Home, Private, or Public School?

Public, Private, or Home-School?Many Christian families struggle in determining what’s best for their children’s education. Here are just a few thoughts, by way of introduction, to this important issue.

The greatest pitfalls of public education are the humanistic philosophies taught at the expense of biblical truth, ungodly teachers and classmates seeking to influence our children, and the absence of spiritual or moral considerations within the educational process. However, those problems aren’t isolated to the public-school setting (as evidenced by just a few minutes of television-watching).

Within most of our neighborhoods—and even in some Christian schools—there are influences that tear at our desired spiritual standards. Christian schools, for instance, can sometimes be hotbeds for hypocrisy (when everyone claims to be “Christian”) and legalism (when an overemphasis is put on external moral standards).

Also, some Christian schools lack the quality and depth of education that public schools can offer—and that can apply even to the basics. Of course, that’s not always the case, even when the neighboring public school looks bigger and more impressive than the local Christian school. Many times the students of Christian schools have significantly higher scores in nationally standardized tests than do their counterparts in public schools. To make an accurate evaluation you’ll need to make inquiries about the curricula, programs, teacher training, and comparative test results of each school.

Is it wrong to put your children in a public school? Not necessarily. Is it right to put your children only in Christian schools—or home-school them? Not necessarily. It is a decision that must be made on a case-by-case basis, using biblical principles and prayerful wisdom to make a God-honoring choice. It involves knowing the Word, knowing the schools in your area, and knowing each of your children.

Remember that the ultimate responsibility for the proper education of your children rests upon you—the parents—not the school or the church (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Ephesians 6:4). Those two institutions are vital to a child’s overall development, but standards, convictions, and moral strength should be implemented at home. Not everything is necessarily good or high quality because it is called “Christian,” nor is everything bad just because it is under the umbrella of public education. Parents need to be especially wise and discerning in that important area.

If high-quality Christian education is available and affordable, that’s usually preferable. However, carefully evaluate all the factors and options of your situation. Seek God’s will earnestly (Ephesians 5:17) and couple that with strong, biblical parenting (Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21).

For an in-depth discussion of the pros and cons of public, private, and home-schooling please see the extended notes by Carey Hardy on this topic. (If you decide to comment, please read Carey’s notes first.) We also recommend the helpful series on home-schooling by Tim Challies (Part 1 and Part 2).

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