Thursday, September 15, 2011


*This is a rather hot-topic so please know that I'm writing from a humble, honest place and wish to start an interesting, respectful dialogue, NOT a divisive, judgmental comment war.*

I'm going to be very honest in this post. I am starting to have anxiety over how we're going to educate our children. I think about it every day. It's not keeping me up at night or giving me panic attacks but it definitely pops in and out of my mind every day and I just have such an unsettled feeling about it. Yes I know Parks is only two (turning 3 in November) but the years pass so quickly and default parenting is not my style. I want to be fully informed and make wise, intentional decisions for each of my children. What follows are my thoughts thus far on education and our options.

My opinions on education are largely based on my personal experience. I never attended pre-school or kindergarten. My mother taught us everything we needed to know at home. She was a fantastic, hands-on mother and homeschooled us off and on through elementary school. I was homeschooled first, third and fourth grade and attended a private, Christian school second and fifth grade. After fifth grade, I completed the rest of my schooling at private schools. The middle school I went to was secular and the high school I went to was a Christian school. I never had a public school experience. I know my background shapes the way I feel about education and I'll put that out there right from the start. I loved being homeschooled and I loved that my parents decided each year what was best for me and our family. That is something I will definitely take with me and use in our family. Decisions on education can change every year based on what's best for the child and the family.

The idea that at age 5 kids go off to the local public school kindergarten program and are gone for 8 hours a day until age 18 has never been something that I envisioned my children doing. At this point, I am not at peace with sending my very young children into someone else's care that will not be reinforcing the ideals, values and faith that my children learn at home. In fact, some things they learn from the classroom will be in direct opposition to what we want our children to learn.

It is not my desire or intention to shelter my children from the world indefinitely. But, while they are young and impressionable I want to shape their worldview and fill their minds and hearts with Jesus so that when they are sent out into the "world" they will be set up for success as best as we are able to do so. I worry about all the trash kids are exposed to in school, both public and private. I'd rather not have my child exposed to inappropriate language and subjects when they should still be innocent children. I do not buy "socialization arguments" that children need to be in school to learn social behavior. Who do we really want our kids to learn social skills from? Their ill-mannered peers or from respectful adults who teach them how to properly interact with people? Let's be honest about what most kids pick up from school: name calling, bullying, exclusiveness and coarse talk. No thanks. My general philosophy is pour into them when they are young, be selective about their environment, train them up in the way they should go and then when they reach middle school and high school open up and let them out, at least in terms of an educational environment.

So, my options are public school, private school and homeschooling. Honestly, I think sending my children to a private, Christian elementary school would be my first choice at this point. But who knows if we will be able to afford it? There's a darn good chance we won't be able to. Public school and homeschooling scare me almost equally. However, at this point, I just don't think I could send Parks to public school with my convictions on education. If I'm honest with myself I think homeschool could be the best situation for my children, because who better to educate them than me? Who loves them more than me? Who understands them and knows their strengths and weaknesses and interests more than me? Who will sacrifice for their well-being more than me? No one. Ughhh....I really don't know if I'm up for it. It scares the dickens out of me. But I know that if I truly feel God is calling me to homeschool He will sustain me.

So there you have it. A brief synopsis of my daily thoughts on education. I want to make thoughtful, wise decisions for my children. I want to be a good steward of the precious children God has blessed us with. I don't want to blindly march on with what everyone else does just because that's "what everyone does". We only have one shot with our kids. That being said, please, please, please do not think that I judge people who send their kids to public school. I do not! These are my personal feelings for my kids and I do not project them onto other people. Also, I respect public and private school teachers a tremendous amount. I have several good friends who are school teachers now in public schools. I just wanted to make sure that is clear before I get a bunch of comments about that. I probably won't though because no one comments anymore :( We'll see where God takes us. With His sense of humor I'll probably either be sending them to public school and taking a huge leap of faith or wearing a denim jumper and homeschooling my kids.

What are your thoughts on education? Do you question our society's conventional system? What choices have you made for your children?


Nina said...

Mallory - If/when you need it, I have a denim jumper you can borrow. Ruthie made it for me during my career as a Christian school teacher. It is a necessity. It even has theme buttons such as pencils and apples and is very versatile: it can work with a variety of theme turtlenecks. I love hearing your thoughts!

Mama Bear said...

Homeschool. You can do it. You already know all of the reasons why, just pray for wisdom and peace about it. :)

Neal said...

I went to public school all of my years and didn't have a bad experience. That being said, I can't imagine sending S to one. It's changed and we don't live in a sleepy community like where I was raised. Sure you get "socialized" but as you said, that doesn't mean it is positive socialization. It also isn't a good example even IF my kid isn't the butt of the joke.

We cannot afford private school either, but the thought of homeschooling makes me even more tired. I am so worn out and we only have 1 kiddo! Part of me feels like I could use the time apart to recharge, but you're right, we only get one shot. We are mothers and we are blessed to have our children to raise.

kateclopeck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kateclopeck said...

While I do not share your convictions about faith-based education, yesterday I was reading the pioneer women's post about why she choose homeschooling and thought it would be encouraging/inspiring to you if you do decide to go through with it!

Anonymous said...

I just typed a really long comment and it got deleted!!! :(

In short, I think you and Jackson have instilled your beliefs and faith into your children so well that no matter what they were exposed to out in the "world", Parks and Reese would always look upon you all, and your faith, for guidance.

I understand your concerns though. I have teacher friends. Some of the stories they tell me make me cringe! Young kids know too much these days!

Boo said...

You are wise to realize, life changes on a regular basis! We laugh, looking back we never knew where our six children were going until Labor Day. One year we were at 4 different schools/pre-schools...that was no fun. You are an amazing mother who knows to pray without ceasing and God has given you a very supportive husband. If you homeschool you can ship them off to Shiloh when you need a break and I will substitute! :)
Ask Jax, taking school to the slopes in the winter is a nice option as well!

brett baker said...

I respect this post a lot. No babies for us yet, but I can imagine myself having similar thoughts/worries about schooling when we do.

The main thing I've learned about any huge choice is that most everyone will tell you this:

1) their way is the right way

The sad reality is that all of these options have drawbacks along with advantages, and someone somewhere will find a way to criticize whatever you choose to do.

At the end of the day, it's up to you, your man and the good Lord! I don't think you need our advice. :)

joi said...

I have many of the same thoughts as you, as we have a 3 year old and 1 year old . I totally relate to your anxiety about the pressure it is to be responsible for the education of a real live person! I recently read "The Well Trained Mind" and it was very informative. Have you read that already? Also, there is an "in-between" option that we are considering, which is a home-school co-op called "Classical Conversations" which may be in your area, depending on where you live. I was relieved to find out about it because I don't know if I have what it takes to do all the homeschooling alone. Thanks for a well-articulated and non-judgemental post!

Neal said...

I was talking to my husband this topic came up the other day. I figured I'd just add some more information based on his personal experience! :-)

He attended a christian school until 2nd grade when he switched to the public school system. No major problems, he had a lot of friends and never bullied. Then he moved to the next town over town at the start of middle school and was tortured by some mean kids. As a new kid, he was shy and didn't have friends to stick up for him and was prime pickings for the bullies. It made him very insecure for many years and also very shy. He eventually demanded to his parents to go to the high school he would have originally gone to if they hadn't moved. It was much better, but being bullied for 3 years had already had a huge impact on him.

I don't think I would let my kids go to a school if they hated it as much as he did. His parents really should have been more proactive, but they weren't. Even if he wasn't picked on so much, I feel like middle school is the worse time to be in a public school. You're no longer in the classroom all day with a teacher and kids can be cruel. I personally wasn't ever really picked on or the butt of jokes, but I definitely saw it happening around me.

So sure, they get "socialized" but it could be very negative. Like the pp said, there are also the coop homeschooling groups that sound really cool.