Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Christian School Choice: Let's discuss this wonderful option!







It's still back-to-school week! For the past 3 days we have been discussing school options. So far we have talked about homeschooling and public schooling. If you missed the previous posts, please go back and check them out. Our first-hand mommy testimonials will inspire you! Today we are taking a closer look at another great option for our kids: Private/Christian Schools.


Christian School History:
In 1559 John Calvin himself founded a school, the Geneva Academy, and he was very influential in creating Christian schools throughout the city of Geneva. Calvin understood that for the effects of the Reformation to continue, providing children a Christian education was essential. John Knox helped form Christian schools throughout Scotland, and these schools operated in conjunction with both the church and the state.” (Walter G. Fremont, Teacher to Teacher, October 2003 issue) There is a great summary and additional information here
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In the late 1700's, Sunday school became popular throughout England and the US. Eventually this lead to an intense level of education, evolving into formal Christian Education as we know it today.



Christian School Facts:
Approximately 4 million students, 1 child in 12, go to Christian schools. In America, since religion is not taught by state-funded education systems (unless they are extracurricular), many parents choose to send their kids to a Bible believing school.
Several large Christian School groups are: The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) which serves 5,300 member schools in 100 countries with 1.2 million students, and Christian Schools International, with approximately 500 schools and 100,000 students.
Another Christian school movement on the rise in the US is classical education which is attempting to return to traditional subjects, and is represented by the Association of Classical & Christian Schools, with over 230 schools and colleges, and about 34,000 students.

Christian School Methods
During the 1950's and 1960's Christian publishers began producing educational texts and materials; today a wide variety of Christian textbooks are available to all grade levels.  The goal of Christian publishers is to create quality biblical and educational materials.
Some feel that pastors should teach their congregation the importance and value of Christian education, as well as encouraging Universities to train quality Christian teachers.
Conservative Protestant Christian schools are privately run, typically in conjunction with a church or denomination.
Parents typically choose to send their kids to a Christian school because they want their children's education to be based on principals that are similar to those of their church. Unless these schools are subsidized by their church, or a part of a school voucher program that is government funded, they must pay tuition.
Although some Christian schools are large and well-funded, many others are small and rely on volunteers from the community.

**Testimonial Time! Let's hear from our experts!**

Why did you choose to send your child to Christian School?
Anna H.
  • Our family has chosen to send our boys to a Christian school. The easiest way to explain our decision is to divide it into two parts: why we chose school as opposed to homeschooling and why we specifically chose a Christian school.
  • Education at a school is not necessarily "tailor-made" to each student. I realize for a struggling learner this may be an issue, but it gives most students a wonderful opportunity to grow, adapt, be stretched, etc. This might sound odd, but school can even give students a chance to fail at something. Now, I'm not saying that I want my boys to fail. But if they do, it will be yet another great life lesson. We can sit down and evaluate what happened and how to prevent it in the future.
  • I also really appreciate having other objective opinions of my children. Teachers spend many hours with their students and can view them without their parents around. No matter how hard we try, parents are not objective. Especially as our boys get older, I look forward to having yet another resource to help determine how they are doing spiritually, academically, and socially.
  • We specifically chose a Christian school because of the spiritual influence it can have in our boys' lives. I'm perfectly aware that sending them to a Christian school does not guarantee that they will be godly. However, I don't have to worry about the underlying philosophy that they are being taught. I don't have to "reteach" certain things after they get home because of a secular world view. I don't have to worry about what a teacher is going to say, music that will be heard, etc. I can count on the fact that the school is philosophically an extension of our home and church.
Keri L.
  • We chose private education for a few reasons. First of all, my husband and I both loved going to school and wanted that experience for our children. We loved the idea of them going to school but also having the school be an extension of our worldview for their young formative years. The second reason was because my son has a September birthday. He was ready for kindergarten and we did not want to hold him back. Public school was simply not an option. We felt very comfortable with the private school we chose. My husband attended this same school from 4th grade through high school so we knew what to expect and already had relationships in place. Like many parents, we take our school decision year by year. We are not opposed to public school as an option for our family in the future. Also, I have a career which would make homeschooling difficult, if not impossible, to do well.
Joy W. 
  • We are sending our kids to a private Lutheran School for the first time this year. We previously tried homeschooling, as well as a public charter school. Homeschooling didn't go well for me. (I think I am not as far in the sanctification process as other homeschooling moms must be!) Plus, my kids do really well in school for their teachers - they work hard and get good grades. They seem to benefit from the structure and I have more time with the little ones.
Brenda H.
  • There were several factors that went into choosing a Christian school.  I would love to home school due to my girls' hearing problems. (Although I never imagined home schooling...!) I feel that they operate best on a one-on-one basis. But that's not possible for our family since I teach.
  • As for Christian vs. public, I feel that it's important to give children that chance if possible. I know it's not for everyone. My kids have contact with "the world" in many other venues, but I love that their focus at school is on loving the Lord and how He loves us.


What are the Greatest Benefits of going to a Christian School?
Anna

  • I personally believe that there are a lot of benefits to a traditional school/classroom environment.  On a very practical level, a traditional classroom allows children to learn to sit still, listen, work independently, work with a small group, stay on task, follow a schedule, etc.
  • Many schools offer a variety of activities under one roof: languages, PE, art, music, computer, library, band, orchestra, speech, piano lessons (or other instruments), etc.
  • Kids learn how to work with a variety of teachers and may even at times have the opportunity to work with one that is not necessarily their "favorite." What a great life lesson!
  • Another great life lesson for some kids is the realization that they are not necessarily the smartest kids on earth! There are other kids in their classes who are smarter or faster at what they are doing. They need to learn to be humble about their God-given abilities. They may even have opportunities to help others in a "peer-tutoring" situation.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, kids who struggle can learn that they are not alone. Other kids struggle too. Many schools offer help for struggling learners, and again a "peer-tutoring" situation may also help.
Keri L.
  • The benefits of private education are plentiful. The teachers and most of the parents share our worldview so my son does not come home confused about who God is or His importance in our lives.It is an extension of what we are already teaching him at home. I doubt I would ever be disciplined enough to homeschool. Because of private education, I know my son is learning doctrines, verses, as well as all his reading, writing, and math at a higher standard than I would be capable of at home. Smaller class sizes, consistent discipline, and education quality are just a few more of the great advantages to private school.
Joy W.
  • The benefit of a Christian school will be the extra spiritual encouragement I hope my kids will receive from teachers as well as Christian friends, which they didn't have at their charter school. I feel like I can use any extra help I can get.
Brenda H.
  • Well, I partially answered that in the last one. A biblical worldview is important to me. I know I am responsible to share that with my kids, but it helps to have teachers who can assist me in that. I also love that it's a smaller school and I have more access to my kids.


What are the greatest challenges in Christian Schooling?
*Also, is placing your child directly into a Christian-only environment giving your child a disadvantage?

Anna:

  • For those that worry that kids will be isolated or in some sort of "Christian bubble," I completely disagree. There will be ungodly kids even in a Christian school. Unfortunately, there will also be ungodly people in the youth group, on sports teams, at their work, and even possibly among close family and friends. Sadly, our children will have plenty of opportunities to experience the "real world" no matter what school choices we have made. At a Christian school, my boys will hopefully be able to begin showing discernment and leadership while in a safe environment. We will closely evaluate their friends. And as I mentioned earlier, the teachers will give us yet another godly, objective resource when we have questions about who our boys hang around, what kind of leaders they are at school, how they act out of our sight, etc.
Keri L.
  • The challenges to private school at this young age are small in my opinion. It was my experience having been through private and public school that the challenges are more evident as children get older.The pressure to please through outward behavior without heart motivation is the biggest challenge from my view. Also, with the exception of sports, private school kids are not exposed to other worldviews, I think this is a good thing for young children. As they get older I hope they will have more interaction with people so they can learn how to stand on their own for what is right.
Joy W.
  • There are several challenges that go along with using a Christian school. First, the finances, but we found a very reasonably priced school out in the country – I think Lutheran churches are very good at supporting their schools, so it costs less for tuition. Second, finding a Christian school that lines up with your families convictions as far as worship and theology can be a bit hard.
Brenda H.
  • Well, having gone through Christian school myself, it is obvious that imperfect people (including me and my children!) make those Christ-centered ideals I just mentioned harder to attain. A focus on outward conformity at school can cause our hearts to become hard to the Lord. I try to be transparent with my kids and talk about my relationship with God--how I make mistakes, but He loves me no matter what I do. I hope and pray that this will help us to be honest and focused on the heart, not the outside.
  • One more hard thing:  the logistics of school--due dates, start times, vacation days. I would love the flexibility of making my own schedule at home school.

**Extra Credit!**

  • Again, there are many sources and history available to you here.
  • I would love to hear more about any resources you might want to share here!


Thanks so much to my testimonial moms! We are winding down our series on Back-to-School and I appreciate the feedback and comments I have received from everyone.  Please don't be scared or intimidated to share your opinion.  We would love to hear from you--there are really no "right or wrong" answers on this test!
Tomorrow we will do a quick run-down and summary to wrap up the week.  I hope everyone has had a productive and fun week back at school!

   


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