Is public or private education able to meet our child’s needs?
Every family has an educational objective primarily shaped by the parent’s own education, upbringing, and life choices. Still, I think there is one thing we collectively want for our children regarding school — an emotionally, mentally, and physically safe environment that keeps our child’s best interest in mind.
But when you look around today, whether it’s the next vicious school incident that pops up in your news feed or an opposing agenda from your own beliefs being shoved down our children’s throats, parents have begun to wonder if public school is the answer.
Are children safe at school?
It begs the question, are our kids safe at school? My conclusion is no. In fact, our children aren’t even safe in our own homes when unprotected screens are lying around, but that discussion is for another article.
Today I want to explore how you can gain awareness and understanding of what your child is experiencing at school by asking them a few questions.
Because here’s the thing. Your child needs YOU to be their safe space to process and unravel their confusing experiences. And if you’re one to ensure your home is their safe haven, then you also want to ensure their classroom experiences aren’t undoing all your efforts.
My personal opinion about public school
Because I have a specific viewpoint on education and its role in a child’s life, I will write this article with the understanding that not everyone can homeschool their child as we do. I want you to walk away from reading this article with hope and not defeat. But before I get there, I wanted to share my perspective on school today.
The problem with the education system
As a society, the common thinking was that we should outsource education to the “professionals” because parents are incapable of teaching their children. I was homeschooled for most of my education, and I remember the judgment my parents would draw from others because of that choice. Thankfully today, there are many more open minds about homeschooling, and funny enough, you can thank recent events for this newfound acceptance.
The beauty of homeschooling
The beauty of homeschooling is that you can cater to your child’s education based on their skills, talents, and desires. They learn so much more about the things that interest and benefit them instead of spending countless hours on subjects they will never use in their daily life.
You can also implement your faith and values into their education by choosing curriculums that fit those criteria.
Instead of convincing your child of what you believe to be true, you can present it to them without an opposing viewpoint telling them you’re wrong. In many ways, public schools teach opposing viewpoints to Christianity around many subjects. It’s counterproductive and confusing for children if that is the faith you stand by.
The public school system is not neutral.
The public school system is not neutral, and even if it were, you cannot, as a Christian, send your child to school thinking you can counter their secular influence by sending them to youth group on Wednesday evenings.
Faith should be something we live by and talk about daily.
Again, you can do your best to protect your child’s devices or vet their teachers, but another child can easily shove their phone in your child’s face, or your child’s counselor could go behind your back in secret and point your child in the opposite direction from the values you hold dear in your home. And oftentimes, you might not even find out about it. We must ensure that children are not subjected to undue influence or manipulation.
While you may think, “That won’t happen to my kids,” I would beg to differ. There is growing concern that things are getting worse, not better when it comes to schools wanting to indoctrinate our kids. What better way to grab hold of one’s thinking than when they are young and impressionable.
We have to face the fact that our children are being targeted. But don’t lose heart; there are things you can do.
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Nurture and guide your child’s thinking; don’t force it
As Christians, we communicate daily about our faith, beliefs, and values at our house. But we also leave room for our children to voice their doubts, questions, and differing opinions. At the end of the day, your child will ultimately choose for themselves what they want to believe.
No amount of forcing something down your child’s throat or protecting them from the world will win their soul over for God. So for us, it’s not about forcing our children but guiding them. If their faith experience feels negatively forced, they will associate it that way.
We do our best to nurture and guide our children‘s faith, magnifying the truth that God loves them, their mistakes and all. And that the freedom they experience is because of God’s grace through Christ.
But it still has to be a choice your child makes for themselves. If you force them, your child will either rebel entirely or become a great little actor until they leave the nest. Check out more on Am I Being Too Strict?
It’s incredible to know that my kids are in God’s hands at the end of the day. He is good. Unfortunately, I will make many mistakes and get many things wrong. But at least I know I will have done my best to safeguard my kids against the evil forces of this world. Children are so impressionable. Protect their innocence and fight for them.
If you have no other option than to send your child to public school, here are some questions to ask them daily. But again, don’t underestimate what God can do in any situation. Make it a part of your daily prayer, and see what happens.
Questions to ask your kids about what they’re experiencing at public school
Safeguarding Intellectual Freedom
- “When have you felt like you can’t speak your mind at school?”
- “Do you think your teacher should be able to tell you what to think or not to think?”
- “It’s not okay for you to feel like you can’t respectfully speak your mind. Does that ever happen at school?”
- “Have you been reprimanded or felt excluded for not sharing someone’s viewpoint?”
One of the primary concerns related to indoctrination is the restriction of intellectual freedom. Education should encourage open dialogue, not prohibit it when it doesn’t meet certain popular opinions. When a particular ideology dominates the educational space, children are deprived of the opportunity to form their own opinions and critically analyze different perspectives, especially the ones you have instilled at home.
Educators need to maintain a balanced approach, presenting multiple viewpoints and encouraging students to think independently. So when this isn’t happening, it’s beneficial to know about it so you can point your child in the right direction.
But at some point, these circumstances will become increasingly confusing for your child. They will begin to question your viewpoint. If your child spends more time under the care of people with differing opinions than your household, you must see the danger there.
Again, homeschool your children or send them to a school with aligning views if possible. But if not, this question can help them identify the moments they were held back from speaking the truth because they didn’t feel safe to share their differing opinion. Awareness can help them discern the lies for themselves.
- “Are you learning things at school that make you feel uncomfortable?”
- “Have you learned anything at school about your body that I haven’t talked with you about yet?”
- “Are there things they teach at school that we don’t teach at home?”
Some educational materials that schools are pushing are not age-appropriate, exposing children to complex or sensitive topics prematurely. Be aware of what curriculums these are and who is teaching what. Ask the principal specific questions and gain awareness of what’s being taught so you can properly address it. Schools should actively involve parents in curriculum development processes and provide transparency regarding educational objectives.
Safeguarding critical thinking skills:
- “Do you think your teachers should be telling you what to believe?”
- “Do you think that school should be the place to learn what to think about politics or sexuality?”
A robust emphasis on critical thinking equips children with the tools necessary to resist indoctrination and discern fact from opinion, allowing them to make informed decisions about their beliefs and values. A remarkable space to learn how to do this respectfully is at home. Sadly, most public education has a specific agenda in mind, so critical thinking on major political or social issues will not happen. All the more reason to do this regularly at home, considering their age and maturity.
- “Do your friends have the same ideas about faith and politics as you do?”
- “Do you feel like your friends accept you for what you believe?”
- “Do you feel like your friends encourage you in your beliefs or make you doubt them?”
We all want our children to experience healthy, life-giving friendships in school and encourage them to do the right thing. A great way to make sure they are hanging out with like-minded friends whose families have the same values as you is to nurture open and honest conversations with your kids.
They won’t share their hearts if they feel cornered or can’t talk to you about anything for fear of getting in trouble or you taking away their freedom. But if they feel like they can tell you the hard things without judgment or fear, they will open up, and you can help them process whether those friendships are beneficial.
Again, we can’t control our kids. But we can teach them the tools to discern good relationships from bad.
Protecting Their Freedom of Faith
- “Do you feel like you can say what you believe without getting criticized by your teachers or peers?”
- “Do you feel like you can talk about your beliefs at school?”
- “Do you think what we teach you at home is accepted at school?”
This one is challenging for most believing families who send their kids to public school. I used to think that sending our kids to public school to be a light and good influence was what the world needed. That was LONG ago. As time passes, I realize the worldy agenda is STRONG, and most children are not spiritually mature enough to endure the influence and come out unscathed. There are many other opportunities for your child to positively influence the world for Christ, but it doesn’t have to be at school or an experiment we try out on our kids, hoping they turn out okay like we did.
As we want to remember the difference between control and guidance, we must recognize the harmful indoctrination targeted at our children, especially in public education.
Here are a few more things to consider
- Be vigilant about the books your children are reading at school
- Make sure you don’t make your child feel interrogated or shamed for experiencing something at school you disliked
- Work on establishing a mutual trust relationship with your child
- Give your children lots of incredible influence at home to combat what they experience at school
- Make your home a place your kids and their friends want to be, not avoid