Why I send my son to Christian day school

Confession: I absolutely adore this time of year. The nights are nippy, the days still warm. The first salmon-red leaves are highlighting a few trees, but all else is still very green. I’m pulling out my favorite sweaters, cooking warm food, and thinking about a cup of tea. Back-to-school sales line the aisles of every store.

This Friday my boy Aarick will load his backpack, carefully check his colored pencils, his ruler, his box of Kleenex and his King James Bible, zip it all up and head out the door. He can’t wait!

First day last year, wearing his new backpack

He is seven years old, old enough to know better and too young to care, as they say–an age that still needs Mom a lot. He’s small for his age, bright-eyed, intelligent, creative, prone to overmuch emotion.

Why do we send him to school?

He will go to a classroom of seventeen other kids, with about 85 in the whole school. His room looks incredible—bright bulletin boards, color, light, William Blake, and tons of books. I really love his teacher, Miss Zehr: a vibrant woman of compassion, energy, creativity, holiness, and spunk.

He will live for six hours a day, five days a week, among a wide range of people and experiences. He will learn more cursive, and the larger second half of the multiplication table. He will read great books, learn cool science stuff, and make new friends. He will go on trips, he will take up responsibilities, and for six hours a day, he will see the world through non-Zook eyes.

We send our son to school because we think that our community is our family’s greatest asset.

He will be exposed to countless good men and women: the teachers and principal, with at least a century of experience between them; the apprentices–teachers-in-training who help out each fall; godly, committed high schoolers; and the parents of 85 children.

His school has patrons from a wide range of Anabaptist churches (Amish, Beachy, and Mennonite of several stripes), as well as patrons who are non-Mennonite. I love this. I love the harmonious way all are united in reaching for the same goal: a Christ-centered education for our children.

*Before I go any farther, I want to say how very blessed I am to watch families who homeschool. I know who you are. At least some of you. And I admire you enormously. There are many reasons to choose that route: finances, family values, or just a love of teaching. It can be done extraordinarily well. But it’s not for everyone. Nor is Christian day school for everyone…*

For us, sending our son to school becomes a delightful experience of bringing him to the body. He will be pushed to work under and alongside people unlike himself. He will learn to be one of a group. He will learn that different families have different standards. He will learn to take orders, concern, and advice from non-parental authorities.

I welcome this outside influence into my child’s life before he is fully formed. I want him exposed to a broader sphere of influence before his character is complete, before he has become so himself that his faults and foibles, his worldview and his trajectory are set.

Ryan and I want to do everything in our power to raise godly children. But not alone. The story goes beyond us, beyond our family, to a much bigger plan. Think of the power of a community raising children! when arms are linked in this process! Think how we can balance each other’s weaknesses, call out each other’s strengths!

Does it take trust? Absolutely. Does it happen without bumps? No. Is sending your child to day school the only way to grow him in community? Of course not.

But I would argue that I do my family a disservice if I think I have all it takes to raise them well, if I shield them from outside influences in fear. One of my prayers as a mom is that to each of my children, Jesus will send a few special people who will take them under their wing, who will mentor and love and nourish them, even when they are small. This is not a threat to me, but a joyous, healing part of life in a body.

We send our son to school because we think that our community is our family’s greatest asset.

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Ruthie Schrock
11 years ago

Shari: This is an amazing post. Blessings to you and yours.

11 years ago
Reply to  Ruthie Schrock

Thanks, Ruthie. So good to hear from you! It’s been a long time.

I’m curious if you and Dan still play the boss game. 🙂 I thought of you a lot when I was writing that post.

11 years ago

Yes, yes! And, how can it be that time of year already?

11 years ago

If I, Lord-willing, ever have children, I will probably choose to home school. This decision will not be made primarily from a financial standpoint (I have no idea where we will be at financially, when we have school age children!)…but I won’t get into all my reasons and opinions now.

I like that you have good, strong, and even Biblical reasons for choosing to send your son to a Christian day school.

I get sick on my stomach when I hear mothers sigh, “I just sent the last kid to school this year. Freedom!”

We need more vision than that…whether we home school or not. Cheering for you!

Larisa Mast
11 years ago

Shari, I enjoyed your post! You articulated well. I love your vision and thoughtfulness about this part of your lives! Blessings!

11 years ago

My children went to a Christian day school as well and it worked well for us. I went to a public school and feel fortunate because the Lord did put so many wonderful Christians of different denominations in my path. I work part-time at the county library and so I see day cares come in, Christian schools, public schools, and homeschoolers. I can truly say not everyone is cut out to homeschool. I see some and think, ‘Oh, I wish I had that mother’s patience, those are some lucky kids,’ and I also see some and think, ‘Oh, those poor children, help us all when they get older.’ It’s nice when we can all support one another with our choices because we all know the decision can be a difficult one. What a great post ~ 🙂

11 years ago

Love it – and i was home schooled. if i ever have children of my own, they will likely go to school if there is one of similar quality to the one you send your son to in relatively close proximity.

11 years ago

He does have the best teacher ever, doesn’t he!!?! = )

11 years ago

Your post matches the ideology my parents had when they sent us to school, and I’m so grateful. I know that it has shaped me hugely in the way that I look at and value community. (It’s why I always defer to the group and never think my ideas are best. teehee )

Mom Coblentz
11 years ago

I love your vision, too, but I can’t get past those eyes and that smile. He is waaaaay too cute!!! Maybe he WOULD be safer hidden away in your closet. 🙂 I love my grandkids!!!

Hilda Iwashige
11 years ago

At this point we plan to home school our daughter 5 years from now…provided she arrives safely in the next 2.5 months! Since I enjoy teaching and seeing the world open up before a child’s eyes, I look forward to homeschooling. But since I was trained as a teacher at Faith Builders :)…I feel a bit wistful that our children will not experience a classroom. Your post articulates the biggest reasons why I feel wistful about not sending our children to a Christian school. Thanks for sharing your insights!!

LaDonna Nice
11 years ago

love this so true!

11 years ago

These are things I have sensed intuitively but never could put into words, and now you said it so well, and I thank you for that.

11 years ago

I hear you, Shari, and I like this. I have thought round and round on the issue of children and community and I still feel like I haven’t completed the thinking. When it comes to schooling our children, I look for no line of defense from anyone (because we all feel this pressure to prove that we’re doing what’s best for our children) – only that they have sought God and followed Him. Jolynn

10 years ago

If I ever have children, I really hope I have a good school to send them to. . . I really like what you wrote in this post. amen.

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