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Discipling the Private Schooled Child

The final part of our schooling-related blog series is here: Discipling the Private-Schooled Child. And for this article, I have wisdom from a good friend, who has schooled in all kinds of ways, in 3 different states(!) — Leslie Linstra (and yes, those are her 4 awesome boys in the picture above). Her and I collaborated on some thoughts, and we have them here for you with 10 tips to maximize discipleship (you’ll only get 5 today, and you’ll have to come back next week for the other 5!).

Without further ado, here’s some helpful wisdom from Leslie…

Over the years, we have tried all the schooling options for our four boys in order to find the right fit. Each school year, my husband and I have bathed the schooling decision in prayer and lots of discussion, considering all the options and the needs of each of our children. And we will continue to re-examine this decision year by year, child by child. With that said, the decision we’ve landed on for the majority of their school years thus far has been a private Christian school.

While private school is certainly a financial commitment, there is so much more that goes into the decision of whether or not to consider private school.  It may seem like an easy “yes” for some, but there are unique challenges that come into play when wanting to raise children to know and love the Lord, and make an impact for Christ with their lives.

Just to state the obvious, one of the reasons I love sending my kids to a Christian school is the benefit of having adults invest in my kids who share many of my deep-held beliefs regarding faith and values. Afterall, this is where we send our kids for the majority of the day, Monday through Friday.  So to know they are surrounded by teachers and administrators who care about their spiritual growth and salvation, and teach from a biblical world view, is something we thank God for daily.  We are incredibly grateful our school aims to build Christ-centered leaders in the community based on biblical principles.  But, with these many blessings, comes a warning:  If we are not careful, it can become all too easy for private school families to take their foot off the gas and coast when it comes to discipling our children. And that, we should never do. 

Below are the first 5 tips for private school families to remember when it comes to our responsibility of discipling our kids.

#1 “Teacher, take the wheel.” NOT.  Don’t outsource your primary role.

While it’s surely a blessing to have teachers educating from a biblical world view, that does not relegate our role of being the primary discipler of our children.  The familiar words in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 clearly command parents to be the ones who consistently and faithfully open God’s word with their children and talk about him throughout the day, “from when we rise, to when we go to sleep”.  

With busy school schedules, homework, extra curricular activities, and church events, it is crucial we seize any extra minutes to grow our kid’s knowledge, love, and awe of God.  From car rides, to meals, and daily home routines, there are many ways to redeem the time we have with our kids, in order to point them to God’s promises, hope, and truth!  Make this the priority, and don’t fall into the misguided belief that since they are at a Christian school, they are learning all they need to know about God.  Nothing can replace your role as the primary discipler!

2.  No assumptions!

While there are numerous positive influences at a private school (and more likely, shared values with other Christian families) we still need to be on guard.  Obviously, not everyone connected to a Christian school  a Christian, or  going to faithfully live by Christian convictions. And if we assumed they are, or would, we’d likely put our guard down more that we should. We are still living in the world, even if there is a bit more spiritual “safety” in our schooling context. 

Along those lines, we should realize that lateral comparisons might come easier in a private school where “if another family is doing it,” then its okay for your child too.  But the source of all of our decisions needs to be biblical wisdom (not social cues).  Not to mention, we should never assume our kids aren’t being tempted by worldliness in one way or another. We should always be alert, and constantly intentional in our conversations in order to continually steer our children in the right direction. 

#3 Teach your kids to be Bereans.

In Acts 17:11 we have an amazing example of believers searching the Scriptures to see if what they are taught by church leaders matches up with God’s word.  Similarly, our children have an awesome opportunity and responsibility to take what they are taught in school and work to understand whether or not it aligns with what the Bible says.

In an age of a growing number of false teachers at churches and socially popular beliefs replacing the truth, (including at Christian colleges and schools), this could not be more important. Hopefully,  if your child has consistently been taught biblical truth, they will recognize when something sounds “off” in the classroom.  

Practically speaking, teach your kids to write down questions about what they are learning if they aren’t comfortable asking the teacher at that moment.  And make sure you take time to dig into what they are learning. Use resources such as Study Bibles, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and concordances. Learning to think critically about what they are hearing is a skill they will draw on for the rest of their life.

#4 Don’t let school replace church.

The private school can be full of wonderful teaching, and relationships, and even serving — but don’t let that replace your involvement at your local church. 

In other words, don’t become so interconnected to your school that your kids can’t tell whether school or church is more central to your lives. Because in the end, any school is just a school, but God’s church is the pillar and foundation of the truth (1Timothy 3:15), it’s where we are spiritually fed from the pastor who will answer to God for how he’s shepherded us. And it’s the primary context our spiritual gifts ought to be used (1 Corinthians 12).

All that to say, as we disciple our kids, let’s always make sure they know we are all about the church! And this realization will benefit them far beyond the time when they outgrow their school.

#5  Actively participate at the school.

Though we don’t want our school to replace our church, that certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be plenty involved at our kids’ school (regardless of which school they go to). But what’s especially neat about a Christian school is getting to partner with other believers to grow the next generation to seek the Kingdom of God amidst their academic growth.  A good Christian school will recognize and promote this critical partnership between the school and parents as the most essential element to a biblically based education for the students.  

As a discipler of our children, being involved at school is also key in knowing what our children are being taught. Whether the teaching is in chapel or in the classroom, we should have a good idea of what our kids are learning, so we can either deepen it, expand upon it, or correct it if necessary.

And there is plenty more to say, so come back next week for part 2!…

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