My five-year-old girl will be attending the exact same public elementary school where I attended for grades K-6. She will walk the same halls, eat in the same "cafetorium," and listen to the same voice read her books in the library. While there's comfort and nostalgia for me in all of this, there is still an understanding that in 20+ years, times have changed, children have changed, and the education system has changed. Those are some of the reasons I have been admittedly dreading this day for a long time. There's a lot to be nervous about.
For the last five years, I have controlled virtually everything in Eden's life. I've monitored and chosen what TV shows she's watched, what books she's read, what people she's been around, what meals she's eaten, and on and on and on. Monday, I will lose some of that control.
If you spend much time in the Blogosphere, you know that everyone has an opinion about the "best" way to school your children, especially if you are a "good Christian mama." I'm going to be real honest with you in this post and tell you the reasons we have chosen to send our daughter to public school. I'm not going to "over-spiritualize" anything, and I'm not going to insinuate that our way is the best way (at least I hope not).
First of all, Eden is going to public school because it's convenient. (I told you I was going to be honest.) We have no private schools in our area, and even if we did, we wouldn't be able to afford them. And the thought of being tied down for the next six or 12 years in order to homeschool her and her sister is overwhelming to say the least. If I'm ever even going to think about adding anymore kiddos to our family I'm going to have to get a couple in school to also stay sane ;).Yes, I would homeschool if we felt it was absolutely by far the best option. But we don't -- at least not yet.
I have told several people recently that we're not "married" to anything. And I like that. Our daughter is going to go to Kindergarten in public school, and I'm hopeful she'll continue there in each grade until she graduates. But if, along the way for any reason, we feel it's not what's best for her, we'll pull her out. We'll make adjustments to home school or change schools and that will be that.
But for now, we're reading our handbook and sealing envelopes with lunch money and praying for the best. And there are a few more reasons why. We want to impact our community. It just makes sense that if you want to make an impact on your community, you have to be involved in it. And although there are other ways to do so, I believe the most practical, natural way to do so (especially in a small town) is by raising up kids in the schools. I've already warned my child's teacher, I'm going to be there a lot. I plan to send snacks for the class, help organize class parties, read to the class, send box tops, and often eat lunch with my daughter. They may get sick of me, but I'm sorry, I'm going to be involved.
I have to give credit to one of my favorite bloggers, Flower Patch Farmgirl, for really revolutionizing my thinking about public school. All three of her kiddos go to a public school marked for high poverty and low test scores. But it is part of what God has called her family to. A couple years ago, God called them to pack up their dream farm house in the country and move to where the people were. They did it. And now every day they put on their shoes, get their hands dirty, and live life with people others wouldn't call "safe." Some might even call it "irresponsible." But they're leading people to Jesus by meeting them where they are.
"Suddenly, the very thought of homeschooling no longer made sense to us. I still liked it in the sense that I loathed reading logs and tabulating minutes and signing forms and remembering (or forgetting) that Wednesday was show-and-tell. But it no longer made sense that we would be called into the heart of the world around us but keep our kids at home. The life we had lived up to that point started pinching our toes. We'd grown weary of a Christian culture that kept to itself and feared the lost. We wanted the heck out. We wanted out because God had called us out, and if He called two of us, He called all five of us. There was no minimum height requirement for his purpose."
-- Shannan Martin, Flower Patch Farmgirl
Now, like I said, I'm not going to pretend to be as spiritual as Shannan. Girl's got it going on. But over the last couple of years, she has gotten me thinking about getting out of our "Christian Bubble." And I've asked myself, how will I teach my kids to tell others about Jesus if they never encounter anyone who doesn't know Him? How will I teach them to rely on the Lord when they're lonely or face persecution if I'm always there to provide the comfort? Also, I get a little nervous when I envision what our schools would be like if all Christians chose not to attend. There'd be no salt or light at all.
But here's what it boils down to: this is what's best for our family, right now, at this season in our life. It's difficult, and it's a huge change, but it makes sense. I COMPLETELY understand why people homeschool or private school and the option's always on the table for me to one day do the same. I understand the desire to protect our children and not throw them into something they're not ready for -- that's the reason we opted out of preschool and the reason Eden won't be riding the bus. And the reason I prayed hard about what class she would get in. But every single one of these things is my and my husband's prerogative. And you have the right to yours based on your unique family situation and convictions. And as I've said before, I don't judge you.
To prove it, I'm teaming up again today with my friend Amanda Farris, who is posting about why she's choosing to homeschool. She is a dear friend of mine, and we both completely understand and support one another. We thought it would be neat to show our readers two sides of this school-choice coin because everyone benefits from greater understanding. Moms, let's root one another on no matter how different our parenting choices, and let's permeate the Blogosphere with a spirit of love and Christ-like unity. Now go read Amanda's post and give her some comment love. :)