Trusting God With Our School Choice {Letting Go of Fear}

Legacy of Faith

Homeschool, public school or private school… are you making your school choice out of fear or by faithfully praying and allowing God to lead you to the best decision for your family?

Homeschool, public school or private school, are you making your school choice out of fear or by faithfully praying and allowing God to lead you to the best decision for your family?

This year my husband and I made the hardest choice, one I never even realized we would make. One that almost goes against the grain, especially in the Christian blog community.

We decided to send our son, who will be starting Kindergarten in less than two weeks, to public school.

It’s been a hard choice, one filled with conflict, tension, heated discussions and lots of prayers. Ultimately, sending our kids to public school (at least during this season) is the right choice.

Let me back up a bit to give you a little background information.

I never even had homeschooling in my sight. I was a product of the public school system, so was my husband. We both had terrific school journeys with wonderful memories. In fact, I loved school so much I went on to become a teacher and taught 4th grade for five years in the public school system.

It was during this time I begin to see why so many Christian parents, and others, choose to homeschool their kids. Large class size, curriculum gaps, testing emphasize, basic skills following by the wayside and strict calendars that didn’t leave room for more exploration or discovery.

I’m also fully aware that no matter what you choose for your schooling option, there is no perfect school.

Everything changed in my heart when I had my first son. As a new stay-at-home-mom, I discovered the blogging world for the first time.

Every single blog I loved had one thing in common… they homeschooled their kids.

I’m not even kidding.

Before this my only exposure to homeschooling was all of the stereotypes you hear about — socially isolated families, jumpsuits, long braided hair, zero social skills — now my opinion was starting to change as I read about family after family who appeared to be normal and thriving while homeschooling.

I’m not sure what it is about the Christian blogging community but my opinion of homeschooling greatly changed and I started to think about the possibility of it for my family.

I loved the idea of creating a family environment for learning and flexible schedules that allowed for field trips and unique learning opportunities.

I loved how family-focused these families where and how the dining room tables they gathered around were layered with books, individualized learning activities, and Bible-focused lessons.

Homeschool, public school or private school, are you making your school choice out of fear or by faithfully praying and allowing God to lead you to the best decision for your family?

My heart was captivated, I begin to question “perhaps homeschooling is the best option for us?”

I began to dream and plan… all before I really prayed about it which if you can see where I’m going with this, is never a good idea!

Over the last two years, I have dabbled a bit with the idea of homeschooling with one toe in during my son’s preschool years. Due to pregnancy and a challenging toddler season with my daughter, we chose to enroll my son in a preschool located in a neighborhood Presbyterian church we could walk to.

A few mornings a week he would attend school there and the idea would be I would “homeschool preschool” the other mornings.

He thrived in that preschool setting.

His teachers were amazing at breaking him out of a shell and interacting with the other kids was good for him too. You see even at the age of 5, I can already see what a highly sensitive introvert he is, and that doesn’t even explain half of it!

Slowly he got comfortable speaking to other people. He would come home singing all the songs they would learn during the day, reciting (verbatim I might add) the small group lessons. He began asking for “school activities” at home because he loved tracing, counting, and coloring.

I saw him develop a love for learning and every single day he asked if it was a day he got to go to school.

My daughter, who is quite the opposite in that she is very social and outgoing started at the same preschool this past year going two mornings a week. She hated when I came to pick her up because she wanted to stay all afternoon with the other kids.

Simply put, my kids love going to school.

My own hybrid approach to preschool wasn’t working out very either. We would start strong in September but would quickly fade as the days turned into October.

Preschool lessons around our dining room table turned into nature walks, trips to the library, a visit to our local farmstead, playdates at the park or visiting area attractions for kids and families. I had no desire to spend our mornings around that dining room table that other families made look so easy and enjoyable. Also, I’m quite aware of the natural learning opportunities that were taking place during those activities.

Homeschool, public school or private school, are you making your school choice out of fear or by faithfully praying and allowing God to lead you to the best decision for your family?

While my kids loved going to school, they started losing interest in school at home and quite frankly, so did I.

I began learning something very apparent about my personality, I like to plan but the implementation is something I struggle with.

When I taught in the school setting it was my job. I would go to the building, teach in a classroom that had no home distractions and come home at the end of the day. I was good at my job and I loved it, but that didn’t transfer over to my own home.

You would think that being a former teacher myself would come naturally for me to teach my own children.

It didn’t.

Yes, I teach my kids every single day just not in the traditional role of teacher. I began to question my desire to homeschool, again not yet praying about.

My lack of follow-through was directly related to my heart. I was trying to do something because it looked like it was what I was supposed to do because all the good Christian families homeschooled… right?

But the real breaking point came after a conversation with my husband.

We weren’t on the same page… not even close.

He was not on board with homeschooling our kids. He thought it would be best if they were in a more traditional classroom environment. He started to be the voice of reasoning and logic.

My husband is steadfast, faithful and a strong leader. He sees things so differently than I do. I tend to lean on ideas, creativity, and dreams. He is more practical and realistic. We complete each other quite well, although sometimes in the midst of conflict it doesn’t feel that way! 🙂

Whenever I would bring up the idea of homeschool he would gently share his concerns and thoughts. At first, I was frustrated. We are Christian parents, we should be homeschooling! I would cry out.

His response was usually always the same, “I don’t think that is what’s best for our family. We should continue to pray about it.”

Homeschool, public school or private school, are you making your school choice out of fear or by faithfully praying and allowing God to lead you to the best decision for your family?

Slowly over the last year, my heart started to change, it’s funny how prayer does that (tongue in cheek!) 😉 No longer was I adamantly against sending our kids to school, in fact, I started to research the options around us.

At first, I looked at private schools (we are very blessed to live in a community with some amazing private school options) but the reality of sending and — eventually — paying for three kids to attend a private school for the next seventeen years or so was not an option for us. So I began to look at the public schools.

Again, we are blessed to live in a community that has wonderful schools. We leave within walking distance to two neighborhood elementary schools — one that is technically our neighborhood school and another we could request to be transferred into at no fee.

We continued to pray as we researched both options, and my heart began leaning towards one of the schools.

We knew several families from church and preschool who were already there and they shared how much they loved the strong sense of community. We learned that many of the families were Christians, including many of the teachers and administration. And we learned that the school was in the process of building a brand new, state of the art, school building on the same property. It almost seemed too good to be true.

The catch was that school wasn’t the school we technically fed into. I visited our neighborhood school and I can’t even explain it but something seemed very off. Call it instincts, my overactive intuitions or maybe my heart already declared the other school as the one, but it just didn’t feel right.

I prayed, “God I believe you are leading us down the road to send our kids to public school. I’m trying so hard to be faithful to this calling but there are still uncertainties. Lead us. Help me to surrender my own ideas and plans. Help me to lay them down at your feet. Allow my heart to follow after You.

Homeschool, public school or private school, are you making your school choice out of fear or by faithfully praying and allowing God to lead you to the best decision for your family?

I’m not going to lie, it was a hard prayer to pray. Part of me thought God was going to lead us to the other school to continue to shake me out of my comfort zone and fully rely on Him but He didn’t. Instead, He opened the door to attend the school we requested a transfer too and, I’m not being overdramatic when I say, a wave of peace washed over me.

I knew we were being faithful to His calling. I had surrendered all of my ideas and plans and allowed myself to be lead by Him.

In less than two weeks my son starts Kindergarten, it’s a full-day program. I’m not going to say I’m without anxiety because there are still so many unknowns. Our entire routine is about to change.

For 6 hours a day, my son won’t be home. I’m casting all my anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7) and I still find myself praying, “God are you sure? Is public school really what you have in mind for us now?”

And I’m continually met with the same gentle but firm answer, YES!

Living in God’s will doesn’t mean life will be carefree. Jesus doesn’t promise that we will have smooth sailing and an easy life. Quite the opposite actually,

I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33

When we are praying and trusting Him, that’s where the abundant life He promises can be found.Homeschool, public school or private school, are you making your school choice out of fear or by faithfully praying and allowing God to lead you to the best decision for your family?

Currently, I am making a plan for the new year.

Our schedule is going to dramatically change and instead of feeling grumpy or upset about it —like how I have to have all 3 kids up and in the van to drop off for school by 8 am! —, I’m allowing myself to get excited about what this new season will look like.

I’m planning how we can be most intentional about using our home hours to grow my children’s faith and create family traditions that will continue to root their hearts.

Homeschool, public school or private school, are you making your school choice out of fear or by faithfully praying and allowing God to lead you to the best decision for your family?

I am continuing to daily hourly pray about our school decision, especially when fear and anxiety creep in. Prayer without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 1:17) is beginning to take on a whole new meaning!

I have stopped reading all blog posts that layout homeschool curriculum choices and plans for the coming year. I have to keep my heart in check and those posts, even by some of my favorite bloggers, aren’t doing me any good right now.

I am daily surrendering my plans and ideas to Him — in all areas, not just on this schooling topic — and allowing His peace to rule in my heart (Colossians 3:15).

I am trusting God with our school choice for this year.

We are taking one year at a time.

Currently, we believe very strongly that sending our son to Kindergarten in the public school is the right choice.

God may lead us down a different path in the years to come but trusting Him, faithfully praying and following His guidance and surrendering to His plans has brought so much peace.

I know we are making the right choice. It may feel hard and strange right now but I have no doubt that He will continue to grow and stretch our family in ways we could never imagine.

Whether you homeschool, attend public or private school, how did you learn to trust God with your decision? 

Homeschool, public school or private school, are you making your school choice out of fear or by faithfully praying and allowing God to lead you to the best decision for your family?

****A quick note: I believe school choice decisions are very different for each family. There is not a one size fits all, and some may not even have a choice, to begin with. We all do the best we can do, and that begins with prayer. Homeschooling may be the best option for you, as is sending your child to a traditional school. I also firmly believe that public schools need strong Christian families in them as well.

Let’s remove the guilt and need to shame others for making decisions that may go against what we believe is the right ones for our family. If you have faithfully prayed and are confident in your decision, that is all that matters. Let’s encourage and spur one another on in love and faithfulness (Hebrews 10:24).

The Confident Mom

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28 Comments

  1. Thank you SO MUCH for posting this! I cannot even begin to tell you how much this comforts me and encourages me to keep praying for our daughter and the school choice. Thank you again!

    1. Your so welcome Kelly! I know school choice can be such a hot issue but prayer is the most powerful thing we can do to find peace in whatever our decision.

  2. This was perfect timing God used you to talk straight to me ! We are in the same situation and we have decided to send our child to public school as well . God knows whats best for our families. Thanks so much and God bless !

  3. Great post! I love how you sought the Lord’s direction and came to the decision He desires at this time for your family. As a parent of soon to be freshman and 6th grader, every year we re-consider our options and continue to find public school is the best decision for us. As you said in the Christian blogging community, this is an unusual choice but kudos to you!

    1. I believe it is a year-by-year, child-by-child decision and something we will probably question every year like you said but right now we do feel incredible peace with our decision and God has already opened several doors for us as well!

  4. Crystal Young says:

    I think it is so sad that people have to defend the choices that they make for themselves and for their families. It is your life and your decisions. I hope all goes well and don’t listen to any naysayers!

  5. Michelle Slomp says:

    I have had to justify my choice of public school in our church for a long time. Only 6 kidss in our church attend public school over Christian school. 3 are mine. I have been so blessed in the teachers we have had (mostly Christian). I too looked at homeschooling and tried it out in preschool like you did, but failed miserably. I have come to the conclusion that if we don’t place good Christian children in schools how can they be the salt and light. I know my oldest is in juniour high and being exposed to so many things, it has been good for those teaching moments and to strengthen our faith.

    1. That is so true Michelle! Those teaching moments and allowing him to be the salt and light in some hard circumstances is such a great example for him to live out his own faith.

      So far we are a few weeks into the new school year and things are going well but I’m continuing to pray every single day over my son and his entire school!

  6. Victoria, I have taught elementary school for 32 years. Some years in Christian schools and some in public. One is not better than the other, it is what is best for your child. I have worked with homeschooled children and have not been impressed.
    All the things you have been doing during your home preschool activities are wonderful and are teaching things that go way beyond sitting at a table filling out worksheets.
    I retired 10 years ago, so my knowledge of what is going on now in schools is probably outdated. My last school worked very hard at making learning hands on with books supplementing the learning. Continue what you are doing at home throughout their schools years and read, read, read to them.
    My parents were only in their teens when I was born. But they provided my sister and plenty of out of school learning opportunities and piles and piles of books. I became a teacher and librarian, but my sister is a rocket scientist, literally.

    1. That should be my parents provided my sister and I. I was included in everything. Actually it was my sister who was included because I came first!?

    2. Hello, This is a reply to Debbie’s reply, but is applicable to all. I home educated our two children for 14 years. Our oldest is starting her second year of law school on a full academic scholarship, in the top 5 of her class, and with a 3.8 GPA currently ( she was entirely homeschooled). Her undergraduate degree was in International Studies, with an emphasis on the Middle East. She has traveled around the world, including at Oxford to study there for her Middle East studies ( earning a perfect “A” on her work there), to Germany, France, Russia, Belize, and to Israel twice. During her second trip to Israel, she was the Middle East consultant for a film crew in making a documentary on the Palestinian/Israeli crisis. Our second homeschooled child is finishing his undergraduate degree, doing extremely well, working full-time, engaged to be married, and has also traveled widely. Both offspring have a wide circle of friends, are politically involved and are civically minded. Furthermore, both needed to tutor public, as well as privately schooled friends in college due to the fact that most had never written a research paper prior to graduating high school.
      I am truly sorry that you were “not impressed” with the home schooled children in your classes. Perhaps you had some preconceived notions of them before you truly gave them a chance. Or perhaps they were simply not academically inclined and you blamed it on being previously homeschooled. Regardless of the reasons, the generalization is extremely antiquated in this day and age in which home educated children have proven themselves repeatedly.
      Also, with regard to deciding not to home school one’s children based on attempts to teach them preschool, please know that this is not at all a valid test for what homeschooling truly is. One cannot “bring school home”. I taught my children classically ( structured 3 R’s and literature based history, as well as Latin and Logic, and the typical college preparatory classes), yet it was never “school at home”. We had time for many significant discussions and were able to participate in many important events and so forth because they were home.
      Having said that, I very much appreciate the tone of this actual article. I am in total agreement that educational decisions for one’s offspring are personal and that God will direct each family in accordance with what is best for them.

  7. You home/Unschooled him for 5 years and now it’s time to see how public school works for your family. Nothing wrong with that. Hopefully it’s a positive experience for you all and that you continue to find confirmation in your choice. And that you and your other two adjust to him being gone for so long each day. Big change!

    1. Thanks Tessa. It has been a big change but it is going smoothly now that we are about a week and a half in. It is strange not to have him here with us during the day, but it also has helped me give a bit more one on one time with my youngest which he never gets! 🙂

  8. Sweet friend, I absolutely love the work the Lord has done in your heart and in your family! <3 thi!

  9. On the other hand, I have friends who seem to imply that my homeschooled children (homeschool was NOT on my radar initially) will not be ready for college, the real world, or real life. Huh? They deal with real life every day. Sitting in a classroom will 20 other kids your agents not real life. Parents prepare their children for real life, not school. I have seen some bad examples of homeschooling nice also seen some pretty bad examples of private and public schooling. And I’ve seen great examples from all 3. Not all of my children are Christians yet, so they can’t be salt and light. I’m busily laying the foundations for a biblical world view. In testing, my kids have proved to be doing great. All my nieces and nephews? Private schooled or public schooled. No matter what your school choice, parental involvement is key. But I’ll admit I am tired of hearing homeschooled kids won’t be ready for the real world.

  10. I think it is important that you turned to prayer and followed what will work best for your life and family. Thank you for sharing all of these important experiences that you had while choosing school.

  11. Thank you for sharing your story! It is so true that God directs our hearts into what is best for our family. We have also done different things at different times and that will continue to be the case, I know! My daughter went to our church’s private school for Kindergarten. We chose to homeschool for 1st and 2nd grade. After that we moved to rural England to serve in a church and had an opportunity to send our 2 kids to a small Church of England school 2 1/2 days a week and continue homeschooling the other half of the week. It has been a great experience.

  12. Anna Rose says:

    One homeschooling mom suggested to me to wait until 3rd grade to homeshool so as to avoid teaching phonics. We ended up homeschooling anyway. Having taught phonics 2x I can attest to the difficulty! And it wasn’t until my daughter was in 3rd grade that I did feel great about homeschooling.

    It is a personal choice that should above all be a spiritual decision. And, as a parent, I don’t know how we can stop homeschooling- whatever school our child attends, they are only learning there for a few hours a day. When they come home from public/private school, we have them for the rest of the day and evening.

    We, as parents, are always teaching them something at home: life lessons, cooking, manners, the Bible, relationships, anything really.

    Parenting is homeschooling, don’t you think?

  13. I know this was posted back in August, but your experience so reflects what I am going through right now as we begin to make plans for my son to begin kindergarten next year. We recently moved to Georgia from California. In California I worked a 9-5 job and we payed a lot of money for my mom to attend a Christian pre-K program. Here in Georgia they have statewide free Pre-K, but being that I now stay at home I had no plans to put him in one! I was going to try to homeschool him because in my mind that is what good Christian parents do! The Lord slowly began leading us a different direction and he is now in a free public pre-k. His teacher is a Christian woman and very warm and loving, but I still struggle with the fact that the Lord would lead this way, I can relate to having to cast my cares on God every minute!

  14. This has been such a blessing to me. i came across it just as i have been struggling with whether sending my son to a public school was really the right thing to do. He has always been in private school since he was 4 years old. Now that he turned 13 and we are in a foreign land, i had no other choice but to enrol him in a public school. I hoped this would help him assimilate better and quicker into the American culture. As he continues to struggle and win most of his personal battles(not physical), we continue trusting in God that we made the right choice for him. May God bless you and your family very much.

  15. Thank you for this ! I feel so alone sometimes for our decision to send our kids to public school ! You CAN be a Christian there . We feel we are preparing our 15, 13, and 10 year olds for the real world 😊

  16. I love this! Thank you for sharing your story of such faithfulness with such a significant decision.

    Like you, when our oldest child was approaching kindergarten, we wrestled with that same decision. We had just moved to a new town, found a church we loved, and all the families we met and admired were all homeschooling. I thought that’s what “good Christian parents were supposed to do. We had just moved to a new town and joined a church we loved, and all the families we met and admired were homeschooling. So I thought that’s what “good” Christian parents were supposed to do. I also wanted my precious baby to be educated in a “good Christian school” surrounded by “good Christian friends.”

    As he often does, God gave me a different plan and a very different picture for her and her siblings. He made it clear he had chosen my child to be one of many strong Christian kid witnessing to others. Her place – and her mission field – were in the public school.

    We later learned our school was actually nicknamed “the private school that isn’t.” 😉 We are continually blessed as our entire district is led and staffed by countless godly men and women of faith.

    That first kindergarten day was over 20 years ago. Through our time in this district, God has equipped all four of our children in incredible ways, according to his perfect purposes. As we speak, our third child is navigating life as a senior in the midst of COVID-19. Our youngest child graduates next year. And I am finishing up my fourth year as a school board trustee!

    There’s just no telling where God will lead us when we follow him faithfully!

    That

  17. I love this! Thank you for sharing your story of such faithfulness with such a significant decision.

    Like you, when our oldest child was approaching kindergarten, we wrestled with that same decision. We had just moved to a new town, found a church we loved, and all the families we met and admired were all homeschooling. I thought that’s what “good Christian parents were supposed to do. We had just moved to a new town and joined a church we loved, and all the families we met and admired were homeschooling. So I thought that’s what “good” Christian parents were supposed to do. I also wanted my precious baby to be educated in a “good Christian school” surrounded by “good Christian friends.”

    As he often does, God gave me a different plan and a very different picture for her and her siblings. He made it clear he had chosen my child to be one of many strong Christian kid witnessing to others. Her place – and her mission field – were in the public school.

    We later learned our school was actually nicknamed “the private school that isn’t.” 😉 We are continually blessed as our entire district is led and staffed by countless godly men and women of faith.

    That first kindergarten day was over 20 years ago. Through our district, God has equipped all four of our children in incredible ways, according to his purposes. As we speak, our third child is navigating life as a senior in the midst of COVID-19. Our youngest child graduates next year.

    That

  18. Thank you so much for the encouragement and wisdom in this post. I have homeschooled for 5 years and we are most likely putting our kids in public school this Fall for the ’21-22 school year. The spring semester this year had been almost unbearable, I struggle with mild seasonal depression in the winter months (I am in northern new england) but this year was different. I don’t know if it’s the compounded effect of Covid stuff, my ADHD OCD oldest entering puberty, difficult extended family situations, still bring newbies at our church, trying to wrangle my wild 4yo while not letting my middle child get pushed aside or what. I take educating the kids seriously and “just taking the day off” whenever I feel overwhelmed wasn’t solving our big issues, I’d be taking every single day off!

    My husband has been working at home for the past year and has seen how hard it’s been, he was the one to gently suggest we finally try public school next year for my mental health and fir the good of our family. At first I resisted the idea because “good Christian moms homeschool their children or at least cough up the cash to send their kids to Christian School?–anything less is laziness and sin!” Sadly we belong to a group of churches where that idea is held up as truth. My state is one of the most unchurched and secular in the U.S , so to send a child from a Christian family to “a government school” is considered a grievous moral failure. 99.9% of my peer group at church homeschool their children and wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise. Choosing to send our kids to public school comes at the cost of being cut off from fellowship with these families. I’ve floated the idea of sending them to school with some homeschooling peers and it’s almost like they fear they’ll be tempted to quit homeschooling if I even mention the idea and my struggles to them . I’m honestly grappling with what my identity is outside of being a homeschool mom. I’m grappling with trusting the Lord through this while realizing I had made a complete idol out of the homeschooling lifestyle. I am praying for wisdom, for grace abc peace, for help to lead my kids on the path of life in Christ as they encounter the hard stuff in the real world. I pray they can be lights in a hurting world.

    Homeschooling is beautiful. Maybe someday we will homeschool again. But I wish it wasn’t viewed like a sin to stop.

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