Gospel priorities when choosing a school

Isn’t it funny how conversation changes when you have children?

We’re sure our conversation used to be so much more intelligent, wide-ranging, witty and (frankly) interesting.

Now, conversation often seems to revolve around something child-related. The latest tantrum. The new milestone. That funny thing they unintentionally said. The cute show of affection that took us by surprise.

It just seems to happen. When we came into parenting, we were conscious of how all that parents seem to talk about is their children. We were determined not to be one of those parents. We still do really try to make an effort. And yet conversation so often seems to get round to that same old topic. Children.

Anyway, onto the subject of this post.

It seems like much of our child-related conversation of late has revolved around the subject of nursery.

Reuben – our eldest – is currently two and a half, and children in the UK tend to start nursery for 15 hours per week aged three. Lots start at age two in fact, but up to now we’ve decided that we’d wait until three (that may well change soon).

When thinking about nursery, there are so many factors to consider! Morning or afternoon? Which school should we send him to for nursery, bearing in mind he’ll probably end up going there until he’s aged 11? Should we send him to the closest school? The school with the best outdoor space? The school with the smallest class sizes? The school with the best OFSTED rating? The school that has the nicest “feel” (whatever that means!)? The list goes on.

You can see why it’s such a big topic at the moment. The reality is that up until now the main influencers in his life have been the two of us (with some occasional input from time at his grandparents). But very soon, that is about to change. Soon, he’ll have nursery teachers who will have a significant amount of time inputting in to his life. Soon he’ll be surrounded by other children who will all, in some small ways at least, expose Reuben to different views and behaviours and values. While we still intend to be the biggest influencers in his life (as we believe this is the role of Godly parents) he will be exposed to other voices too.

What does it mean for the gospel to shape this decision?

It’s easy to get caught up with what everyone else is considering as most important for their children as we face this decision. Academic achievement. Whole-person development. Good pathways into secondary schools. And so on, and so on.

Many of these are right to consider. God creates the whole person, he gives us gifts and abilities that we want to see flourish – that’s glorifying to him, afterall. That’s a Christian way to view education, we must factor them in.

But here are a few additional questions that we think are important to consider to help the gospel shape our decisions about our childrens’ education.

Before we get there though – education is one of those big (and heated!) topics debated by Christians. Oftentimes we don’t understand the education systems or cultural options that are mainstream in other cultures. This post will mainly relate to British Christian parents who decide to send their children to school. This isn’t a post debating the positives and negatives of homeschooling/ private schooling/ public schooling etc, although perhaps that could be fun another day. This is simply helping us ask some gospel-centred questions given the fact that we have decided to send our children to school.

So with that caveat in place, here they are:

  1. Which school has other Christian children in it, creating a support network when things get tough?
  2. Which school will allow my children to have friends from different socio-economic, religious and ethnic backgrounds, teaching them to communicate with and be empathetic towards a variety of people, and thus equip them for gospel conversations?
  3. Which school is most open to us as parents being involved in school life, giving opportunities to bless the school community?

What other questions did/will you ask yourself when the time comes to choose a school? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

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2 thoughts on “Gospel priorities when choosing a school

  • February 22, 2017 at 7:56 pm
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    When my children where starting school we were in an area with many good C of E schools and it would have been so easy to choose one of these as we knew the values would fit with our own. However we decided to send our children to a non-faith primary as we felt our children needed the opportunity to be able to shine their light and to be able to extend God’s love to children who may never have known this.

    Through my work with Operation Christmas Child and mission trips abroad I was able to go in and do assemblies and show all the children how God likes to work and why we as Christians reach out to those in need.

    If we had stayed in the same area we also would have sent out eldest son to the closest secondary school (if he had shown no particular preference to go elsewhere due to his academic abilities) which was not that great as both my husband and I believed that a school will never improve if all the academic kids get shipped to the schools with better results. Sometimes we are called to be the change we want to see.

    Good luck, Mich x

    Reply
    • March 5, 2017 at 8:19 pm
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      Hi Mich,
      Thanks for sharing your experience. You are so right about being a light in difficult places. It’s definitely another important factor to consider – thanks for giving us more food for thought!

      Reply

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