Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Going Public

I never really thought I'd write about school. Mainly cause I don't want anyone to ever think that we feel there is a "best option" or only "one right choice" for school. We feel the exact opposite.

And honestly, it can be a touchy subject. And touchy can turn into mean comments. And mean comments make me want to throw things at the computer screen. You understand.

So lets come at this from a "this is what God has led our family to", and not a "our way or the highway" approach. Lets discuss what He has called each of us to, shall we? Awesome.

Our kids go to public schools.

It's true. And for a long time I didn't talk much about it cause it can almost feel taboo among some Christian folk. Not ALL, I said SOME.

Please hear my heart when I say this, I do not mean it in a bad way, because I too am a hovering mother...I can hover with the best of 'em, my friends. I just think that it is easy to get comfortable in our Christian circles, to obsessively shelter our children, and sometimes forget that there is a whole world, not to mention a community that you live in that needs to hear about Him.

Public schools need Jesus too.

We don't look at it as "sending our kids into the warfare of public schools" like I've heard so many times from other moms who have choosen not to (that statement makes me a tad crazy, btw), we look at it as sending our family into a place where we can shine His light for hearts that may need it.

Our kids are leaning at a young age to stand up for, and share their faith. That can't possibly be a bad thing.

Do I think its possible that they will get exposed to some things earlier than if I homeschooled? Sure. Do I know that they will hear things that need some extra explaining from us at home? Of course. But do I believe that Jesus smiles when Ella tells a classmate that we don't treat people in a certain way because God wants us to love each other? With all my being.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't just give them a good-luck pat on the head and send them on their way, we are actively involved. I have sent some emails and talked to the teachers about things that I'm sure when I walked away they said, "wow, that woman needs to relax." But that's ok, I just want them to know I'm always there and asking questions. I even went on a field trip to a museum when I was 38 1/2 weeks pregnant with Lincoln...that had flights and flights of stairs...and no padded benches for my aching hips...and my only pair of jeans that fit were SO tight. Ah, memories.

A child's core beliefs, morals, and faith start at home, and are nourished and strengthened at home.

I am a firm believer in that which is why we talk a lot around here about anything and everything. We talk a lot about our faith, our family values, and what is expected of everyone.

I have also tried to start talking to the girls very early about things that might become embarrassing, tempting, or heard at school later on down the road. Just the other night when I was washing their hair we talked about appropriate things and inappropriate things, and what you do in those situations. I try to keep our chats laid back, calm, and very matter of fact so they don't ever think twice about asking me any questions.

Not long ago Ella pulled a feminine product out of my purse and inquired about it. After I thought for a second I said, "well, grab a juice box and pull up a chair, kiddo." Ok, I didn't really use those words, but I did tell her what it was, although I didn't go into a long explanation. I figure I have a year or two before that convo gets here.

I'm rambling, aren't I? Sorry.

Every school has trouble. Every school has partying and the "wrong crowd". And every school is going to have good and bad qualities. Deciding what is best for your family is between you and the Lord, no one else's opinion matters. Go with your convictions.

And for the record, we have talked a lot off and on about homeschooling, cause I am completely open to it if the Lord calls us there.

Down the road, will I pull one of the kids out of school and teach them at home if we thought it was necessary? Absolutely. But right now, I don't feel called to homeschool our kids, which can be looked down on at times especially since it is pretty common among bigger families. I've come to be ok with that though. I know that we are doing what God is calling us to for the time being, and that is what matters most.

We know that God placed us right where He wanted us when we moved a little over a year ago. We are in a nice community with solid schools, and I am thankful for that.

I love our "Christian circle" of friends, and I love being among company who share our passion about our faith. But I completely feel drawn to build relationships with other mama's who don't have a relationship with Him. I just can't imagine where my joy would come from on my worst mom days without His promises and confirmation of my calling - and if I can, I'd like to share that.

Our hearts feel pulled to jump right into the middle of our public school and get involved. And that is exactly what we have done :).

So now it's your turn. I shared where God has us in the school department, where does He have you??


Lenae said...

Kate, I love you for posting this. I actually blogged yesterday about a recent shift for us in this area, from homeschooling to a private school here in Azerbaijan. I won't go into too much detail here since I wrote about it there, but it was such a difficult transition for me, in large part because I've dreaded how others might judge me. In the end, my husband and I found solace in what we've always said: that we will go where we feel He's drawing us.

Thanks for opening up this topic for honest, respectful conversation, and for being so transparent about your own family's choices.

Jenn said...

"Deciding what is best for your family is between you and the Lord, no one else's opinion matters. Go with your convictions"

YES. It's not the same for every family, nor do I believe it's the same for each child in the SAME FAMILY.

My kiddos are below the age of majority for school, BUT in the future, I would not be surprised if one was in public and one was home schooled, or spilt public private, or private homeschool. Really, it's whats best for the individual.

And really, even outside Christian circles people have these same debates. It's all part of the life.

Eva said...

This has to be one of my favorite posts! Probably because I can relate to you as a mother and Christian on so many levels.

The Lord has led my family to homeschool (me being the teacher) but before my husband and I made the decision to homeschool my oldest child (Grace, now 7) I have to admit I was contemplating the idea and quite hesitant for some time. I worried not only of the social aspects, but also making sure my daughter would get the education I thought she deserved. And though I love my children more than anything, I worried about spending my whole day educating them and the reality of whether I would go insane when the time would come to homeschool all of my children at the same time (not to mention I am pregnant with no.5). That might sound insane, but it was a reality that I have learned to come to terms with and I make sure to take occasional time for myself. As i have come to find out, homeschooling my children (Grace, Caroline, Norah, and Joseph) has been a tremendous blessing and I am so thankful for the opportunity. I love being able to teach my children the way I want them to be taught; I love watching my children grow academically, socially, physically, and mentally on a day-to-day basis; and I love spending the whole day with them. Home-schooling  also gives me the opportunity to teach my children different values than the ones offered in school. I want them to explore subjects they don't learn in school, I want them to learn from real life experiences as opposed to a book, other kids, lesson plans, etc, I want to support, inspire, and promote their interests, hopes, and dreams. I love homeschooling and wish my mother would have done the same when I was in school. There was so much bad influence around my schools (elementary, middle, and high), which brought me to be exposed to bad things at an early age. And just like you, that's why I make sure to talk openly with my children when questions arise about taboo topics and subjects. I am so grateful for the opportunity to homeschool my children. 

Melissa said...

I remind my kids everyday that they may be the only Jesus that some kids may see. We need to teach our children at an earlier age to not be ashamed because the world will teach them to deny Him.

Anonymous said...

WOW...thank you for posting this...I completely agree with everything that you said and believe. My husband and I went round and round on this topic for years. Finally this year was dooms day...we had to make a decision since our oldest was entering kindergarten.

We too decided to send our daughter to public school...but it was not an easy decision or one that we took lightly. Like you, we felt led to send her there...we felt like we needed to be there.

I had gone to a private catholic school growing up so I have struggled with not providing my child with the same opprotunity...that has been extremely difficult for me. But I have come to realize that I was having more of a problem with what my parents would think of our decision rather than what was best for my child / family...I did not want them to feel like I was not appreciative of the education they had provided for me...can you tell I am a complete people pleaser??

We also go to a church where only one other family sends their kids to public school...everyone else homeschools. Of course I am also one of only a three women that work outside the home. The others you work have children that are not school age yet so they have not had to make any school decisions yet. So I already feel like an outsider for working and put that on top of sending my children to public school...needless to say I felt so alone and issolated in everything that was going on in my life.

I know we made the right decision for us...my daughter LOVES her school and says she feels sorry for her cousins that don't get to go to school. But it is something that weighs heavy on my heart and a decision that I will constantly re-evalute for each of my children individually. But right now we feel that God's plan is working in our lives and that is all we need!!

Stefanie said...

Thank you so much for sharing your heart on this topic! We have a family a little smaller than yours (4 girls, our last 2 being twins) but still big by the world's standards. And we too feel the same way about sending our kids to public schools for the same reasons. I'm not sure I completely understand why it's such a touchy subject in Christian circles, but I so appreciate you being brave & putting your thoughts out there! We as moms need to have lots & lots of grace for one another! I love your blog & find it incredibly encouraging! Thank you!!:)

Thoughts for the day said...

I think whatever you decide is the BEST choice for you and your family. Some choose homeschool for early yaars then allow them to go to public schools later, some go only for public or private. It is your own choice. I am a firm believer not all people should home school their chidren, in some cases it can be a cover for other 'issues at home' that don't want to be addressed. You are doing an AWESOME job!! I love your little family and I have never met you.

Marva said...

Thanks for sharing this! We are a lot like ya'll. We want Jesus to shine and bring HIM to those who need HIM! We also have our twin boys in public school. My sil works in the office as the accountant, my brother drives the school bus (that comes right by our house), I have great friends that I went to school with that teach there, my bff teaches there and my Dad, brother and I all graduated from there. We are very blessed to be able to send our kids where they are known and loved and will get a great education!

The Beaver Bunch said...

We homeschool. And I'm a HUGE advocate for homeschooling IF a family feels called to homeschool.

And I will say, that it's a calling.

I have no issues with our friends (who are also Christians) who send their kids to public school. In fact, I think that it's wonderful if that's what God has called them to do.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said "Deciding what is best for your family is between you and the Lord, no one else's opinion matters. Go with your convictions."

For us, that looks like homeschooling. For some amazing friends of ours, it looks like public school. For other friends of ours, it looks like private school.

I think the reason that this topic, along w/ topics like breastfeeding, co-sleeping, spanking and the like is because there aren't enough folks seeking the face of God for His desires for their families.

They go to church, sit in pews and then tuck their Bibles away until the next Sunday.

There's peace in being where God has called you. And instead of each of us getting bent out of shape because someone chooses to parent differently than we do (yet totally within Biblical standards), we should seek God's desires, follow His promptings and be okay with not looking like the people around us but looking pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.

God said to go and make disciples of ALL nations. Not only nations (or peoples) who Homeschool, or peoples in Public Schools, or peoples in Private Schools or Mommas of 1 child or Mommas of 10 kids.

ALL nations. How can we reach ALL the nations if we all live the same lives? We cannot. And we should not.

Julia said...

Well said! This is a great post.

Wilma said...

I believe this is the first time I've commented even though I've bee reading your blog for some time. I have one son and DIL who have alternated between Christian schools and homeschool. They have six children. They have been with a mission organization and all but the youngest attended the Christian school on campus. It was not a good mix, so this year my DIL has home schooled all six (8th grade to kindergarten). They have just left that organization and moved. They plan to send most of their children to public schools. She may continue to homeschool one. Just like many of those who have commented, it is a personal choice, and depends on the family and the school system.

I really enjoy your blog.

Wilma in West Virginia

Sarah said...

Awesome post Kate! I think we had a great education at CHS! :) but you are right that beliefs, attitudes, etc. start at home. My hubby is a middle school teacher and he loves parents who are actively involved in their child's education like you are. Because education is so important for us as well, we moved over the summer to be in a good school district, but would have chosen a Christian school if we weren't able to move. Love your honesty!

Sarah said...

Kate, thank you for sharing this! I am a FIRM believer that each type of schooling can be done WELL (and conversely, that each type of schooling can be done poorly!). I actually experienced all three growing up (public, home, and private). As did my brothers. Lo and behold, each of us flourished most in different environments. My oldest brother was made for public school. My middle brother thrived in homeschool. And I adored private school. I'm so thankful my parents made our education so individual. Now, I'm seeing how difficult that is, particularly at a young age, but I'm hoping I can follow the lead of my parents and really seek what's best for each of my kids individually when they hit middle & high school. For now, we've chosen private Christian school. We debated public school for a looooooong time, but felt Maggie would do better with small class sizes (she struggles in school). I also briefly tried homeschooling. I was soooo disappointed when it didn't work out, but Maggie and I just butted heads all the time and ruining our relationship just for the sake of being "homeschoolers" was SO not worth it to me. So we are really trying to do Christian school in the best way we possibly can - as I'm sure you're doing public school in the best way you possibly can! It's so hard not to judge and be judged in this area... but I am fully convinced that you made the best decision for your family. Your friendship continues to bless and encourage me, even from across the miles!

Tammy M said...

Kate, LOVE your post on this topic & I couldn't agree with you more.

We chose private school for a few reasons, but ultimately due to us living in a failing school district, we were given the opportunity to send our son to private school for free. We consider that an overwhelming BLESSING, of course, but would not hestitate to send him to public school in the future if our circumstances change.

We feel that even private schools have their "issues" & they too are filled with the unsaved that desperately need Jesus. Hurting people are "everywhere"... even at the local Target store... so thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. May this encourage all of us (not just our kids) to be a light in a dark, dark world!!!!

Stacie@HobbitDoor said...

Great job,Kate! I am waffling between homeschooling and sending the girls to a Waldorf school.We have a few years to think about it so I am just waiting on the Lord show us the right decision at the right time.

I was in private, public and homeschooled. My parents had their reasons for each. I know one of their big concerns when we pulled out of the public school was maintaining ministry opportunities. We were taking 20+ kids to Awana with us, my mom had a prayer group with other moms of kids we went to school with, etc. It came down to the school teaching things that went completely against our value system and being closed to parental input. That being said, we re-evaluated every year, prayed for our school and looked for ways to be involved. We always said it was a calling and not everyone should. We were homeschooled when it was unpopular even in Christian circles and were constantly grilled by adults to make sure we were learning. It's intriguing to me that the pendulum has swung the other way.

I know for us, Ralph and I are in weird industries with weird hours. Homeschooling would give us the flexibility we need to maintain family time. It also may prove to be too much to organize with our weird schedules. We shall see.

God gave you those kiddos for a reason. He is giving you the wisdom and direction you and Eric need to raise them in the way He wants you to. I am thrilled to see how you guys listen and respond to him.

You know if you ever find the money to vacation, we would love to host your clan and feed you all and play tour guides. ;0)

Amy said...

Thanks for sharing. I feel the same way about school as I do (do I dare say it) "baby wise". We also do public school and I am so glad. Broderick's kindergarten teacher comes to our house church after a year of me and another mom investing time into her and her class. I do not say that to pat myself on the back but to praise the Lord for what he did through public school. Praying for you and your family (as I pray for mine).

Savvy Little Women - Kate said...

I am so, so thankful for you all sharing your stories of where God has you. I love hearing how and why God has you where you are - it's awesome, and encouraging :).

susan said...

well..... I am not Christian as such. But I am a kind hearted woman who wants the best for her family & friends & wider community. I'm a nice lady I just don't follow a particular religion. That defining me..... I send my children to a variety of schools. It's NOT in me to home school. Bottom line I know I won't ever do it.

My eldest daughter has always gone to the local public school & high school {I live in Australia btw}, she has done very well. I can recall pulling her OUT of religious instruction when she was little because I felt the lessons being taught were EX-cluding and teaching about a God who punishes naughty children. I pulled my son out also when I looked through his workbook and he had to write lines about being a sinner in God's eyes. I rang and spoke to the school and made an easy decision to not have them instructed in religion at school.

My heart tells me that ALL children should be taught about ALL religions, not just their own. Having travelled a GREAT deal it is a wide world we live in and every country I have visited believes very strongly {in general} about the religion they follow. It's not so simple as to instruct ones child about God and that covers it. They need to learn about other cultures and their beliefs too.

My next son down is about to start at an Anglican school as the public school system failed him dismally. He has ADHD and was "lost in the crowd". He turned to "the wrong crowd" for acceptance and fun... which lead to a nightmare year for my husband & I. We hope the strictness and guidelines the new school will have will enable him to be the best version of himself he can be.

My next two youngest go to the local state primary school where they will not be formally instructed about religion at all. That's fine with me, we discuss ALL aspects of life as they come up.

Our twins who are age 3 go to a kindy with lots of love thrown at them .... they are happy little boys.

We see it as our role and not the schools to teach our children about religion as a broad subject. One of tolerance, love & acceptance. When I was a child, raised in the Catholic Church God was all judging, intolerant and mean. He was watching, waiting for you {as a small child} to sin. It was not at all how I want my children to be exposed to any religion I choose to inform them about.

So rather than labelling ourselves as anything we are a family who strive to be close, loving and generous with our time, spirit and belongings. We love each other & open our home to friends and family.

I hope that all makes sense about how we have chosen to educate our half dozen. it's not easy and what is right for me may not be right for you... but respect about each others decisions, circumstances and motives is what's called for.


Delena said...

Love to hear your view. I completely agree. We're entering a new season and sending our kids to public school next year (and I CAN'T WAIT!!!. Ahem.... Did that just come out?)

http://knickknackpaddywack.blogspot.com said...

Three boys...all public school....love it. Blessed to have great schools here too. Lots of friends homeschool, lots do private school too....and I even sub at a private christian school, but I LOVE where we are, and I never JUDGE someone for the decision that is right for their family. :) God calls us all to different things for different seasons.....and your post was GREAT! YOu said it perfectly! I too, love when my youngest guy says something about Jesus to his class-mates (or teacher!) in his class. Precious! Great post on a very TOUCHY subject~ :)

Clever blonde said...

I love you Kate! That was written so darn well and full of really good stuff! Love the way you share about the Lord. We homeschooled and now meh boy is in Christian school but I so know we gotta do what God wants or it gets messy! It broke my heart to stop homeschooling. I would love more kids just so I could homeschool cause I'm so passionate about it but we just gotta be where He wants us...