Public school, private school, home school?

Posted by Stephen Witmer on May 31st, 2017

One of the many things I appreciate about Pepperell Christian Fellowship is that we have a healthy diversity of approaches to educating our children. A number of our families home school their children, some send their kids to private Christian schools, and some send them to local public schools. I say this is a ‘healthy’ diversity because I do not believe that the Bible mandates or privileges one educational approach over the other. Instead, it grants us as parents flexibility depending on what works best for each of our families and our kids.

Given our church’s healthy diversity, here are a few things I hope all parents of school-age children at PCF will agree on:

- God holds parents ultimately responsible for the education of our children. We’re the buck-stoppers in ensuring that our children develop a biblically-formed, Christ-glorifying worldview. We can’t farm out that task to a private Christian school, as though, once we make that educational choice, our work is done. If we choose to send our kids to public school, we’ll need to be talking regularly with our kids, interacting with them about what they learn in their classes, assessing with them what they’re taught and how it fits with the Bible. If we choose to home school, we’re responsible to teach these things to our children.

- We’re called not to be dogmatic about things the Bible doesn’t mandate. We ought to choose the educational approach that works best for our family and kids, and not assume that it’s the ‘best’ or ‘biblical’ option for every family. It’s wrong for parents who adopt one approach to disdain other approaches, and communicate (explicitly or implicitly) that other parents have chosen a second-best option. We can celebrate the unique advantages of each approach while also being honest about the drawbacks of each one. Above all, we ought to show grace to one another.

- We ought, as parents, to be thoughtful and prayerful about the choices we make. Taking one educational approach doesn’t lock us into it permanently for the lifetimes of our children. It’s good to prayerfully reassess as our kids grow and develop, and our family circumstances change.

Several years ago, the Gospel Coalition asked three mothers of school-age children to share some thoughts on their family’s educational choices. These mothers go to the same church, are good friends, and have chosen three different options: home schooling, public school, private Christian school. Their contributions are a model of good, biblical thinking and gracious, godly interaction. I hope you’ll read and consider!