But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. – 1 Timothy 1:5
It’s that time of year when one school year wraps up and parents are already looking toward the next. Some children will begin school as kindergarteners in the fall. These parents, along with parents of children for whom this year has been a struggle, are asking a tough question: How should I educate my children?
Four years ago, I completed a 16-year journey I never expected to make. We had planned to put our children in Christian schools, at which point I would have focused again on writing for a living. But God had different plans that He made abundantly clear. So for 16 years – from kindergarten through graduation for both my boys – we homeschooled.
So people who know me probably expect me to be a big proponent for homeschooling. Perhaps it was with that expectation someone recently asked me to share my views on the best course for education for Christian families.
My answer is equally simple and complex: Follow God’s plan.
I cannot possibly tell you what God’s plan for your family is, just as I couldn’t possibly have anticipated His plan for my own family until He revealed it. You are responsible before God for the stewardship He has given you in your children. You are responsible for discerning and obeying His will for your lives.
As a first-generation Christian in my family, I wanted a foundation of biblical instruction to help mold godly character in my children. But it wasn’t just what I wanted; I felt convicted this was God’s will. So everything we did in some way could be linked directly or indirectly to biblical instruction.
To some degree, this is God’s calling upon every parent. Not everybody shares the calling or the capacity to homeschool, and not everyone has the cash for private education. But everyone shares the calling to give their children a biblical foundation.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, 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. – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
I believe this teaches biblical instruction is the responsibility of the parent. Because God’s Word is the source of Christian morality, it is also the parent’s job to instill morality in the child.
This is where it gets tricky, because the morality of the public-school system may fly in the face of Christian morality. If God’s plan for your family involves having your children in public school, don’t expect your little one to be a light in the darkness. (You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard about people dumping that weighty expectation on a child.) You be that light.
Be involved, and be aware. Volunteer in the classroom as much as possible. Be familiar with curricula and school values. Speak up when your family’s values are challenged, and know your child’s rights – for instance, the ability to opt out of objectionable curricula, to pray at school and to discuss his faith. Some parents have said they become so consumed by their involvement in their child’s public education that they may as well homeschool. Again, that’s between you and God.
Remember, even educators recognize parents are a child’s first and forever teachers. Make the most of it. Teach your child Scripture, and help him learn to apply truth to his heart daily. Talk to him about biblical truths as you walk together, as you commute, as you say goodnight and as you rise. Don’t miss a teachable moment.
Most important, abide in the Lord and pray continuously that you would be open to His will for your lives, whatever that means. As long as you remain obedient to Him, He will bless.