Some of you may have noticed my absence around here the past few weeks. It wasn’t an intentional break. It was a break that just kind of developed as I needed time to do and think and process. We’ve been processing a lot in recent weeks. We’ve been evaluating and choosing and wrestling. We’ve been at that place of deciding what kind of life we want for our family.
Choosing a Family Lifestyle
A few weeks ago while at a family gathering, a relative mentioned a graphic design position that had opened up at his place of employment, a large, well-known company in the area. We had just come off a couple of very challenging weeks as a family and wondered if this might be God’s prompting to move in another direction as we had been praying specifically regarding our willingness to do so. We researched the position and weighed the pros and cons of it. It would be a step back professionally for David. It would be a step back financially in some ways in that it would require much longer hours away from home working than what David does now. But it would be a job with very good benefits. It would provide a measure of “security” in what we suspect are going to be increasingly erratic times in our country over the next few years.
In the end, David did not apply for the job. It would have taken him away from home all day and still required that he continue to freelance on the side in the evenings in order to maintain the level of income we’ve had lately. (It would have actually locked us in at a lower income level.) It would have meant Caroline and David would get almost no time together. We were happy that we wrestled through the issue as it helped us clarify again what is important to us as a family and how David can best use his gifts and talents in his professional pursuits. Just a few hours after he decided not to pursue the job at the end of the posting, another client wrote to confirm a commitment to a longer-term relationship with a larger project. We were thankful that God confirmed our choice, something that doesn’t always happen!
Reasons for Considering a Christian School
During the same stretch, we also began to wonder if we should more seriously consider sending Caroline to a Christian school. There is a very nice Christian school in our area where I know she would get a quality, very Christ-centered education. I toured the school last week with the principal and felt overall favorably about it. (It was a very emotional experience for me to be back in a school building. I haven’t been in a school in quite a few years… maybe since I stopped teaching? It reminded me of how much I enjoyed the anticipation of back to school and the feeling of community.)
We have three reasons for considering Christian school for Caroline. One, we want a break. Call me selfish if you want, but the thought of having five mornings a week alone or with just David here is so beyond comprehension in my mind that I can hardly express how fantastic it sounds to this introvert. (I won’t even get into what it would be like to have the whole day.) There is so much in my life that has been pushed aside, put on hold, etc. I know that is a normal part of being a parent, but I am trying to figure out how much is necessary and how much is healthy. The freedom to work freely would also be a tremendous bonus. I think how nice it would be to just be Caroline’s mom and not have to be responsible for every part of her education.
The second reason is for Caroline to develop friendships and for us to be part of a bigger community than ourselves. The fact that she is an only child weighs heavily on our mind. It would be very easy for David and I to just become total homebodies, but with Caroline that is not wise. I think in many ways it would be good for us to be involved in community at a school. While I know we can be involved in homeschool groups and such, I’m fairly confident they will not provide the same community experience that a school will. That’s just not the nature of homeschooling communities from what I’ve observed in other people’s lives.
And the third (and perhaps most important reason) is that we want other quality Christian adults to invest in Caroline’s life and spiritual development. We often think that it would be very good for her to be under the authority of other Christian adults. Having an only child with a strong personality makes for a very different family dynamic. It is hard to explain, but I think Caroline would benefit a great deal from hearing God’s Word and biblical teaching from adults other than us.
My only experiences with Christian schools have been less than positive ones as a teacher. However, I know so many people who loved their Christian school experience and speak positively of the impact their teachers and coaches had on them.
It is interesting to me that the academics are not really a reason to send her to Christian school. I’m confident I can do that here so the academic part doesn’t even enter my mind. That said, the Christian school has excellent procedures for differentiating instruction throughout the entire school.
The building is beautiful and the classrooms are huge. It is in a gorgeous setting and they have a strong environmental focus which I think is great. (Especially since it will be focused on God’s creation and not crazy science!)
A Complete Lifestyle Change
So what holds us back? It is a complete lifestyle change for us. We will lose our freedom to come and go as we please and will be locked into a school schedule. We will have much less time together as a family. We will have homework to do and lunches to make and fundraisers to do and….and…and… Getting up and getting everyone out the door every morning instead of spending a leisurely morning together as a family… Driving back and forth or else having to put Caroline on a bus every day…
It is also a completely different educational model. The differences between homeschool and Christian school are significant in terms of how Caroline will be educated, what she will learn, etc. That isn’t to say the Christian school model is bad. It is just different.
So that is where we are in the homeschool versus Christian school choice. At this point I think we are still leaning toward homeschooling, but it is nice to have another choice. It’s strange because a number of years ago I would have been thrilled to have a quality Christian school available for my child. But as my own views on education and family have changed and evolved, I find myself feeling like Christian school is “less” of an education compared to what we could do with her at home. I know that isn’t true in every case, but I do feel like academically I could do much more for her at home than she will probably get at school. Being at home will give her advantages in some areas and going to a Christian school will give opportunities in other areas. Neither is necessarily better – just different. And we’re trying to discern which opportunities and advantages are better for her and how God will choose to use her in the years ahead. We’re confident God is leading us and will take care of her no matter which choice we make. And then we will plunge forward full steam ahead this fall!
The photo is Caroline pumping water at the farm at the Meijer Gardens, one of her favorite things to do there!