A little over a week ago, I took Lily to our neighborhood elementary school to turn in her registration packet for kindergarten this coming fall. She is so excited about going to her “five year old school”. (That’s what she calls it.)
Many people have asked me about our schooling decision for our kids, so here goes.
For a little background, I grew up in a Christian school (same school K-12th), and Filipe grew up in public and private schools- some in the U.S., some in Brazil.
When we moved to the San Francisco bay area in 2008, this issue weighed heavy on me. We went from the Bible-belt (South Carolina) to one of the most liberal places in the country, and I knew school would come sooner or later. Lily, our oldest, was only two at the time so it wasn’t urgent, but it kept coming up- no matter how hard I tried to push it away.
I’ve had countless encounters at playgrounds where another mom would ask me what our “plan” was for schooling, or I would stumble across a blog where a mom was homeschooling five kids- and excited about it! Every time I was left more frustrated and confused- not necessarily because of these encounters, but mainly because I was so unsure about what we were going to do.
During the summer of 2009, I really struggled with this. I was pregnant with Efraim and in a tough season with the girls. Lily had just turned 3, and Cailyn was 19-20 months old. I couldn’t see past the next month much less the next twenty years. The pressure to homeschool began weighing heavy on me. I don’t know why, but it did. Big time. And frankly, the thought of it made me sick. One night, I was talking with Filipe about it and I was sharing him all the stuff I was feeling. Our conversation went something like this:
Filipe- “Do you want to homeschool????”
Me- “NO! Not at all.”
Filipe- “Then don’t homeschool.”
Me- “Really! I don’t have to?”
And that was that. End of discussion. From that day on, I never felt the pressure to homeschool again. Thank you LORD for my husband’s ability to turn my frantic, crazy situations into simple solutions!
So with homeschool ruled out, we were down to two options, private or public school. But really, with private school being WAY over our budget, public school was the only choice we saw for us. I was finally able to relax knowing what our decision was, but I was still a little nervous about it. Public school is a whole new world for me, and I wasn’t too sure what to expect or how to prepare (me or my kids!).
Just around the time I began doing research on the schools in our area, a friend gave me an incredible book that completely changed the way I viewed the school system. It gave me incredible peace about our decision, and confidence that it is most definitely the right one for us.
The book is called, Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School by David & Kelli Pritchard.
My problem was that I was seeing this as an “us vs. them” issue. Us being Christians, them being the public school system. And in my head they were always at odds with one another.
But, as I read that book, I realized it doesn’t have to be that way, nor should it be that way.
Why can’t we, as Christians, partner with those who are educating our kids to give everyone the best experience possible? Instead of criticizing everything the school does, what if we offered to serve them instead? Isn’t that what Christians are supposed to be doing anyway?
Those were the thoughts that continued to roll around in my head as I considered our situation and where God has uniquely placed us. We came to the Bay area to do exactly those things- to serve our communities with the love of Jesus. By not using this opportunity, there could very well be someone in that school whose lives wouldn’t be impacted with the love of Jesus. When I think about that possibility, there’s no way I’d back out.
I’m so excited to start heading down this road. I don’t expect it to be an easy one, but I’m pretty sure that we, as Christians, aren’t guaranteed the easy road- just help along the way.