When both of our children were old enough to go to school, my wife did begin to take on part-time work to supplement our income. The work she did was always organized around our girl’s school schedule. She took them to school and picked them up. She was available to drive on school field trips and volunteer in our daughters’ elementary school on a consistent basis. If one of our children was sick it was no problem, usually, for her to rearrange her schedule so the children were not pressured to attend school when they were really sick. There were also times when I took sick days from work to stay home with a sick daughter, but their mother deserves the credit for providing most of this care.
All the teachers knew us, and I believe this gave our children a wonderful sense of security and a feeling that school was a positive place to be. After our daughters entered secondary school, their mom took a full time job as a teacher’s assistant in our local school system. Later, she became full time Director of Children’s Ministry at our church. I can’t express my appreciation enough for her and all the sacrifices she made to help build a Christian home for our children. She has always had a full time job and profession as a Christian wife and mother at which she’s been tremendously successful. God truly gave me a Proverbs 31 lady for my wife and best friend.
When our first daughter became old enough to enter kindergarten, we faced the next big decision of our lives. Where would she go to school? I was a principal in the public schools and I knew there were many good schools with excellent programs she could attend. In spite of the excellent academic curriculum in these schools, however, we believed that an education, which emphasized Christian values and the belief that the Bible is the inspired word of God, should be our highest priority in selecting a school for our children. Therefore, we chose a private Christian school for our girls to attend.
This was not an easy decision to make. It put more financial strain on an already tight family budget. There were also my personal concerns about being a principal in the public school system, yet choosing to send my own children to a private school. I wondered how that would look to the people I worked for and to the parents in the school community I served. In spite of these and other concerns, we wanted our daughters to receive a Christian education.
Now, let me take this opportunity to give you some personal advice. If you believe that you are going to send your child to a Christian school, or any other private school for that matter, to escape and protect your child from the problems of the world, you are sadly mistaken. The Christian school my children attended had to deal with the same concerns and issues that are present in the public schools. I believe that most Christian schools do. Every parent with children in our daughters’ school was not a Christian. Some were about as far away as you can get from even approaching a Christian lifestyle. Many of the students did not attend church regularly. The difference that was important to us, however, was the basis on which these concerns, issues, and problems could be confronted. The school approached problems from a Christian worldview. There were no doubts, for instance, that when it came to issues of conduct and morality there were absolute standards, based on the Scriptures, which governed how problems should be solved. The teachers were committed Christians who were free to speak about their faith in Jesus Christ and serve as role models for our children. Christianity was taught purposefully and integrated throughout the curriculum. I believed, and still do, that this method of educating children instills within a child a permanent intellectual and spiritual framework of reference for moral values that are much more powerful and lasting than can be done through generic character education. This is why we chose a Christian education for our daughters.
If, however, you choose to send your children to a Christian school and you do not provide the same kind of consistent Christian environment at home, you should not be surprised if the effects on your child’s character are not as positive as you hoped they would be. A child cannot live between two worlds with radically different values. A child sees hypocrisy very clearly. It is, in my estimate, more important for a child that the home lay a consistent foundation of the way the Christian life should be lived than to place all your hopes in that being taken care of in a Christian school facility. Many outstanding Christian young people are graduating from our public schools, but their character is a product of the strength and consistency of the Christian values in their homes in the majority of cases. (Continued tomorrow)
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