Where Should Your Kids Go to School? (25 questions to consider)


school options


Yesterday our kiddos’ school sent home the registration packets for next year…
It always comes as a bit of a shock each Jan-Febr-uary when this happens.

2013- 2014?  Already?

But most schools start opening up registration at the beginning of February and I know that in our area, many of the magnet schools have already started the enrollment process.

Every year around this time, I try to share a revised version of the post below because we revisit these questions on a yearly basis as children change, finances change, work changes, our family dynamics change, or God changes our hearts.

This year I included links to past posts that share some of the factors that God has used to shape our decisions about education over the years.

And in the last week, I’ve received over a dozen requests for this list, so I know this decision is on the minds of many others right now as well…

 “So– Where do your kids go to school?”

Education and school choice is a hot topic.
The goal of this post is not to convince you that one option is better than another, but instead, to offer 25 questions to pray through as your family considers plans for next year or the years to come.

With that said, an important emphasis of– Lord willing –should be applied.
For we truly “do not know what tomorrow will bring” (James 4: 14 & 15).
And clearly, the “answers” to the following questions will not be the same for every family.
So, here it goes…in no order of real significance…just some suggestions:

1. What are our options?
(Public? Private? Christian? Magnet? University Model? Charter? Homeschool? Online?)


2. What are the ultimate goals of our child’s education? Our goals? God’s goals?
(College? Knowing God? Living with an eternal perspective? Academics? Building friendships? Expanding horizons? Sports? Learning to love learning?)


3. What special needs, social or health issues, specific gifts, or learning styles does each child have? What school options will best meet those needs?


4. How will the school’s location and hours mesh with our family?


5. What specific family dynamics must influence our decision?
(Travel? Work schedules? Divorce? Adoption? Racial diversity? Sickness? Death? Family size?)


6. What does the Bible say about education? Learning? Wisdom?


7. What is each child’s personality, maturity level, and where do they stand with the Lord?
(Is the child a follower? A leader? An instigator? What is their role in a crowd of peers? How do they respond to authority? Do they ask questions? Are they naive? Respectful? Do they learn best in a large or small group?)


8. What can we afford financially?


9. If we feel God leading us to something that seems financially impossible, what changes can we make? How can we trust Him to provide?


10. What are the arguments in support of and against each option?
(Can our decision withstand the valid points of opposing arguments? Do we still feel good about our decision after hearing other perspectives? Ultimately, we all just answer to God in this…)


11. What choices have like-minded friends and mentors made?
(Keeping in mind that each family is SO different and God leads parents to very different conclusions about education.)


12. What are the dangers of each option?
(Isolation? A hectic life style? Lack of community connection? Impact on ministry? Increased family stress? Negative influences? Superficial or “cultural” Christianity? Educational inadequacies? Financial hardship? Absence of God communicated? Loss of missional mindset? Too many social circles? Decreased family connections? Lack of or too much structure? Physical dangers? Over-protection? Unbiblical teaching?)


13. What will the academics be like with each option?
(What curriculum is used? Teaching methods? Is there a certain bent that we appreciate academically?)


14. How will the school handle current issues in the world?
(Ignore them? Give facts? Give opinions? Try to persuade? Analyze? Discuss?)


15. Will God be included or excluded in day-to-day curriculum?
(Will the curriculum reveal and include the intricacy and excellence of God’s creation and order? If not, how we will effectively communicate that God is a part of everything–math, science, history, literature, music, art? How will we counteract the “compartmentalization” of God?)


16. How involved can/will we be as parents? What other family resources can we count on?
(Grandparents? Friends?)


17. How will we provide for the social growth our child needs?
(Co-ops? Field trips? Siblings? Church? Community groups? Sports?)


18. With each option, how will we teach our children to reach out to others? To look beyond personal safe-guarding and to see the needs of others?


19. How prepared is each child spiritually? Is their foundation strong enough to truly be a “light in darkness”?
(Some 8-year-olds may be more ready to engage than some high schoolers. Believe me, I taught high school. )


20. If we are asking our children to function as “missionaries” with their peers, are we leading by example?
(Do we speak out and share in our own office? In our own neighborhood? If we are asking them to have this courage, can we point to it in our own lives?)


21. How willing are we to listen to God’s leading? Have we already formed opinions that we aren’t willing to budge on? Do we have a Lord-willing-attitude?


22. How much of our decision are we basing on our own experiences?
(Each school, each town, each teacher, each generation, and each child is going to be different from our “back in the day”.)


23. How will we embrace the educational community?
(Volunteer in their classes? Get to know the teachers? Develop relationships with other parents? How will we make this a priority so that we truly know what goes on in their lives?)


24. How will we deal with friendships? How will we teach our child to be a friend, make friends, keep friends and choose friends?
(Once school starts, so do the invitations. Are we willing to invest time getting to know the children in their classes? To meet the parents? How comfortable are we with dropping them off at the home of a new friend? Will we make time each year, with each new class, to get to know the different families?)


25. Finally…and most importantly…what does God want for our family?
(And it may take a while to figure this out and it may change and it most certainly won’t be the same for every family…which is something I’m thankful for).

We would love to hear how God has directed
your family when it comes to options for education…

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  1. Jen Ferguson says:

    Honestly, off the bat, I can’t answer every single one of those questions, but I do know the answer to the last one. There are definitely some questions here though that I want to think more on – not because I think that we are in the wrong place, but just that they are really good things to think about!

    • Me either.
      I’m with ya…and actually our answers have changed over the years.
      We’re really thankful and happy with our current school scenario, but still revisit the questions on a yearly basis (or at least most of them).
      Thanks for stopping by Jen.

  2. Lisa Boyle says:

    Several years ago, after much prayer, we decided to homeschool. It is truly the only option in which we felt that God would be first and foremost in everything in our children’s lives. It is also where we felt the individuality of each of our children would be fostered and cherished. It is truly the best decision I ever made. The easiest? Nope, probably the most difficult, but so worth it. :-)

    • Especially love what you wrote at the end…the best decision for your family may not be the easiest. I think homeschool is a great option and it’s so encouraging to hear of families who are willing to go that route when God leads them down that path…

  3. Good questions for thought! We find ourselves right in the middle of trying to figure out what is the best school decision for Alicia.

  4. This is a great list. I didn’t realize your kids went to school 3days a week. That’s awesome to have that option available! We are going to homeschool k5 this next year. Lots of reasons play into that (like we don’t know where we will be living next year so have no idea what options we’ll have).

    Another aspect to consider is your background. I was homeschooled k-12 and my husband was 5th-12th. Because of that, it seems natural to homeschool, and yet that isn’t a good reason to do it. I’ve struggled with this a lot, because I’ve seen both the good and bad of it–it’s not a lofty dream but I reality I know… Anyway. Rambling a bit…Just a tough decision.

    • It has been a great option for us and we’re really thankful…

      I absolutely agree about the background part playing into it all…and it’s so easy to just revert to “what seems natural” but you’re right, He may nudge towards something that doesn’t come as “naturally”.
      Totally makes sense with the move too!
      And we have several friends who have “dads” that are off on days other-than-the-weekend (something I’d never thought about)…so homeschool is great for them because then the kiddos actually get to spend time with their dad on the days he has off.

      I’m so thankful for the many options that are out there…we’ve needed different options for different phases of life. I initially started out full-time-homeschool for our oldest’s K year…then they switched to a private school that was full time…(which we needed especially the year Selah died) and then we moved to the University model (mix of both homeschool and school). Which has been great because with the gap between Lydi and our other kiddos, if they were gone all-day-every-day that wouldn’t have spent near as much time with her (it has really helped with their relationships). Funny thing is…I taught in public school before kiddos :)
      It’s all just so so different depending on the family, extended family, etc…

  5. Wonderful post! So many great questions to ponder.

    There are so many choices and life has a way of changing just when you think you know “the plan.” Our family has used a hybrid mix of education over the past 15 years, and God has led us where each one needed at the time. Praying for all those other mamas and daddies making the choices right now.

    • Thank you… :)
      I like that description…I think we’re a “hybrid” family too and as much as I’d love to have the next 10 years of education planned out…the constant questioning/discussing/praying keeps us coming back to Him…which I’m thankful for.

  6. I will be sharing this with my fiveintow.com community because I just wrote about school yesterday and we’re still discussing it in Facebook land. Thanks for distilling the questions for us. You are a blessing!

    • Thanks for sharing Kristen…I loved your post!
      So good to remember that was easiest is not always best…sometimes He plans to stretch us and we’re in the exact right place…but it’s not so easy.
      Thankful for you and your love for your little ones. Love, K

  7. Great questions, Kara!

  8. LeAnn Williams says:

    Wow, that is a lot to ponder upon, make a decision and then pray about it. I am kind of glad that I don’t have to worry about that anymore. However, my children do have to be concerned with these issues. I do know that my one daughter will like this one; I will send her your link.
    Blessings on this one!

  9. Kara, I had not read this before. Thank you! I have recently come to the point in my life when I realize what it means to long for my real home. I know this post is about schooling, but reading someone (who is important to me) touch on the topic of our real home is significant for me. So, #thankyouandyourock

  10. Great post, Kara! I have wanted several times to homeschool, but it just hasn’t been the Lord’s will for us. After much prayer and counsel from our pastors, I had to come to realize that as much as I wanted to homeschool, that it just wasn’t God’s will for our family – at least for now. I think it’s important for families to definitely look into all of the options thoroughly, but then take this decision to God as you shared in #25, seek wise pastoral counsel and be sure to spend time with friends who homeschool to gain their perspectives on the advantages and challenges. Then pray, pray, pray and God will give you the direction you need. And then if you do homeschool, continue to pray and re-evaluate as God directs. And may I also encourage everyone who does homeschool to please be kind and nonjudgmental toward those who opt to send their children to school, especially public school. If a family has sought the Lord on this matter and have opted to send their children to school as a result of believing it’s the Lord’s will, we should encourage these families, not make them feel as if they somehow aren’t committed to keep Christ central in their children’s lives. I know that’s not being implied at all here, it’s just something I’ve experienced and it can be very hurtful, so I thought I would just mention this so we can all be more loving in our words to others. Thanks again for a great post! These are questions we should definitely ask ourselves before during and after the school year! Lots of blessings, Kelly

    • Kelly, I love how you came to your decision. :) Whenever we pray about something and the Lord says “NO”, we have to realize that this is God’s will for us, but sometimes we don’t really like the decision. Loved your heart here.

    • I was homeschooled. I DO think homeschooling is great, and I DO encourage it. But I don’t think it always works ou, its not perfect, and its not always pretty if done for the wrong reasons (my families’ case). I appreciate that you put prayer and the Lord’s guidance into this.

  11. This is a brilliant list, Kara. So much to consider, and so many ways to pray! :)

  12. Hi! i just stumbled upon your blog when searching for university model schools in the Portland area. Are you in Oregon? If so, might I inquire as to what school your children attend? we are moving to the area and desire to start our oldest in a university model school. Thanks so much!

    • Hi Lisa…
      Came back to this post today for a friend…
      Ours are at Cor Deo.
      I think I responded to you via email, but can’t remember now if I “mentally wrote back to you” or actually did it! :)
      Have you made the move yet?
      I also think there is a University Model School out in Gresham area as well…

  13. Trent DeJong says:

    Perhaps one more question: what kind of Christian schools are available? You of course have this covered, but I wanted to make clear that schools come in many shapes and sizes. I am an advocate of Christian education, but of one particular variety–one that does not pull children OUT of the world (public school), but one that recognizes Christ’s Lordship over all of Creation. This means you look at Literature and Math (and everything else) from a uniquely Christian perspective: I’ve written about this elsewhere if you are interested in further explanation: http://trentdejong.com/why-christian-education-part-1/


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