Without a doubt, educating our children is one of the most important undertakings parents must embark upon. That said, we do not believe there is any one right way to educate. What is right for one family may not be right for their neighbor. The choices we make in education do not a good or bad parent make.
We have chosen public education for our five kids. Was this an easy decision? One we made without looking at all of our options? One made without evaluating and seriously considering the impact this would make on our children? The answer to all these questions is a resounding “No!”
Many of the reasons for choosing a method of education are quite personal. We do believe in supporting our public schools. It is also a factor that we pay taxes for public schools and the financial burden of private education would be difficult to manage with our large family. It is also our strong belief that if involved parents continue to rip their children from the public education system -- we all stand to lose a lot. Our children learn diversity, they learn personal responsibility, they learn to stand on their own in addition to the basics. These opportunities are no less important to our family than learning to read and write. Our children must learn to not only cope, but thrive in this world. That is our PRIMARY responsibility as parents. This can occur even in a public school setting.
You may wonder why we don’t homeschool. It doesn’t carry the financial burden of private education. It is my firm belief that homeschooling can be beautiful and work very well for some families, yet it isn’t the answer for every family. There are days when I want to homeschool with every fiber of my being, but those days are outweighed by the positive things I see in my children from their school experience. I majored in Education and would be one of those moms who could make homeschooling not only work, but turn it into a fun and enriching experience for our children and myself. I don’t feel we have been called to homeschool our family, at least not at this point in our lives.
Recently, we attended a parenting conference that reinforced our belief that public education was the right choice for our children. We also brought home a book which we are reading and re-reading -- GoingPublic, by David and Kelli Pritchard. There is a quote I will use for the rest of my life found on page 21: “Yes! We definitely homeschool our children ... and starting at age 5, we also send them to public school to get more information.”
Isn’t that the truth? Education starts at home. The most prominent impact on the lives of our children are the things that happen within the walls of our home. These are the forming factors that will develop our children into the adults they are destined to become. What I do as a parent CANNOT be diminished by a public education. It can be enhanced. My children can learn that not every family is like ours and that’s okay. They can learn to reach out to those who are hurting… to the bullies and troubled children and show them love and respect. It is our firm believe that our children will prosper in this environment. They will become stronger in their faith as it is challenged, they will learn to respect diversity, they will learn about forgiveness and hospitality.