Do you have growing concerns about your child’s current or future school environment? If so you may be praying for God’s guidance regarding where they should attend.
Reasons for parents’ interest in private schools are varied. Your concern might be regarding a child’s academic progress. It may be for his spiritual well-being. It may be for her self-esteem or personal safety.
Whatever the reason, according to a 2007 Study in Education Policy (“Ontario’s Private Schools: Who Chooses Them and Why?”) enrolment in private schools, including faith-based schools in Ontario, has shown a steady upward trend over more than 40 years.
In fact, the study found that while public school enrolment remained somewhat stable throughout, enrolment in private schools doubled between 1960 and 1975, then doubled again between 1975 and 2000.
There is a clearly increasing demand for educational alternatives. Many families are considering the transition to a private school, filled with hope for a better educational experience for their children.
What, though, are the realities of a private Christian school? What are the strengths of the system? What challenges do Christian schools face? What other options are there?
First, a reality check:
1. Christian Schools Are Not Utopian
It is important to have realistic expectations of what a Christian private school provides for your family.
Our purpose is not to create a protective, impervious bubble for children from Christian homes – not that we could.
We live in a world of imperfection. Sadly, none of us, and hence none of the systems in the world – including Christian families and organizations – is perfect.
It would be insincere to pretend that Christian schools are totally devoid of any of the issues that present themselves in other educational systems.
Takeaway: What you should observe in a Christian school however, is a staff body comprised of trained and qualified educators who are faithful to Christ’s teachings. The intent of the staff would be to lead exemplary lives and instill Godly, positive habits into the lives of the children while providing a sound academic foundation.
2. Attending Christian School Is Not a Substitute For Being Discipled at Home
A significant portion of a child’s life is spent under the influence of their school environment – approximately 8 hours a day, five days a week. Christian educators know that you desire them to reinforce the values you live while your children are under their care.
However, in Deuteronomy 11, God instructs the Jewish people regarding the Law of Moses to… “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
This practice of parents leading the way in teaching spiritual things extends to today’s Christian families in principle. Christian school cannot take the place of Godly parents living out their faith in the home environment.
Enrolling children into a Christian School supplements but does not supplant parents’ Godly example and training.
Despite the large percentage of wakeful time they spend with us, as parents your God-given role is to be the child’s primary spiritual teachers… Forging their character in the earliest years when they soak up attitudes and behaviours effortlessly is a significant responsibility.
In your role you teach, guide and protect them as they develop their spiritual, psychological and social foundations – long before teachers and peers have the opportunity to wield significant influence and challenge their loyalties.
As they grow older it becomes increasingly difficult to stay connected so as to guide them through the hurdles and temptations they battle.
What vices are your children being challenged with today? Bullying, profanity, illicit sex and illegal drugs are just a few of the temptations they may face. How is the experience affecting their emotions, their personalities and their spirits?
Takeaway: In a school like Timothy Christian School where students come from Christian homes, the training received at home and at school manifests itself in a largely wholesome and encouraging environment. We are not perfect; however when an unpleasant incident does occur, teachers thoughtfully and prayerfully guide students into restoration and reconciliation.
3. Christian School Is Not The Only Choice For Christians
There. We admit it.
We are aware that God has not decreed that every Christian family must enrol their children in a Christian school. We acknowledge that He has not elected Christian schools as the only option for a child’s education.
Nevertheless, as the study showed, there are many parents who specifically desire an established, formal environment such as a private school. Some determine this even before the birth of their first child.
Then, there are families whose choices are severely limited by finances or availability and who still prayerfully seek guidance.
Several are distraught that their impressionable children are besieged by anti-Christian philosophies and attitudes in their school environment.
Other parents believe that God requires their children to attend public schools in order to be a witness… a challenging mission.
For some this choice would be understandably worrisome if the school environment is decidedly anti-Christian.
Yet another segment of Christian parents chooses to home-school their children – full-time or part-time.
As a parent you have your own unique considerations to weigh as you prayerfully make the critical decision regarding how and where to school them: each child’s needs and personalities, strengths, weaknesses and tendencies among them.
What Critical Factors Should You Look For In A Christian School?
If you are considering a Christian school as one of your options, there are some factors that have proven most critical to families over the years in our experience.
- Sound Academics
Is academic rigour important in a Christian school? Yes!
As Christians we believe that God is truth. Education combined with the honest pursuit of truth by Christians helps to shine God’s light into a world that is only too happy to confine God within the walls of church buildings.
Ideally we should launch our students into the pursuit of truth in elementary school, propel them throughout high school and encourage them to maintain their search and discovery throughout adulthood.
In practice, smaller class sizes facilitate academic rigour by allowing teachers to pay closer attention to your child’s academic development. Teachers are better able to observe a child’s individual learning style and work with him/her more effectively.
- Disciplined Environment
A teacher, new to the Christian school environment, chatted with a parent during an open house event at TCS.
When the parent inquired as to how the transition to the new school was progressing, the teacher shared a very pleasant difference she was experiencing. She was thrilled at the amount of time she was able to spend teaching the subject matter. She found very little time needed to be spent on behaviour management.
From kindergarten right through school, teachers establish routines and habits that assist in building a disciplined character. A sense of orderliness should be evident even as you tour a prospective school.
This environment of order is proven to provide children with the security and stability that promotes respect and excellence.
- Congruent Values
As parents we teach our children, and rightly so, to honour and obey those that are authority figures whether parents, teachers, police officers etc.
If children receive conflicting messages however, they have to make a decision. Which authority figure should they believe?
This conflict can easily occur between teachers and parents if they are not in agreement on core values.
When a parent establishes the authority of a teacher it is very difficult – and confusing to children – to tear it down.
How do young children know which statements and instructions from the teacher should be filtered according to a value system that they are still in the process of learning?
Instead, in choosing a Christian school like Timothy Christian School, protestant Christian parents have the comfort of knowing that the teachers uphold core values that are in agreement with yours.
You can be sure that the name of Christ is respected and the tenets of our faith are upheld.
Why Timothy Christian School?
At TCS, our curriculum stays current with the Ministry of Education standards. Results of provincial standardized tests show that we provide a superior academic education.
Beyond covering the required academic material we also affirm that God is a part of all life and study: sciences and arts included.
We do not segment our students’ lives into the secular and spiritual – as secular society demands of the public school system.
The search for truth – whether in sciences, philosophy or theology – is essentially the search for God.
The study referenced earlier discovered that the following are the top 10 reasons parents seek to have their children attend a religiously-defined private school. Parents desire a school that:
- teaches right from wrong
- has dedicated teachers
- supports the family’s values
- is a safe school
- reinforces their religion
- emphasizes academic quality
- has good student discipline
- values parent-teacher collaboration
- is conducive to character development
- educates the whole child
You will find each of these factors to be integral to the educational experience at TCS.
In the book 10-10-10, Suzy Welch explains a process for making decisions, especially tough ones.
The core of her process is these three questions (paraphrased):
- What impact will my decision (one way or another) have on my life and the lives of those I love in the next 10 minutes? i.e. immediate impact
- What impact will my decision (one way or another) have on my life and the lives of those I love in the next 10 months? i.e. mid-term impact
- What impact will my decision (one way or another) have on my life and the lives of those I love in the next 10 years? i.e. long-term impact
Prayerfully consider whether education in a Christian school is right for your family: short-, mid- and long-term.
Weigh the financial commitment with the potential educational, spiritual, moral and behavioural consequences.
If you decide to make us your elementary school of choice, we trust that as we make every effort to be the best that we can be, you find TCS a fit for your needs; that your child(ren) would thrive in an environment which fosters a happy, wholesome, academically stimulating primary school experience built on a foundation of faith in Christ.
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