School Choice

Do not train children to learn by force or harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each. – Plato

This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Jeremiah 6:16
While we would like to see an increase in school choice nationwide, most parents throughout the United States can find some form of choice in their communities.
In an ideal world, we’d have clear-cut choices. Our children would maximize their learning under the best academics, would attend school without fear of physical harm, and would have their values affirmed.
Schools are just like the rest of the world, however; they’re full of shades of gray. This article series will help you grasp some of the pros and cons of the various environments with the goal of assisting you in the selection process. First, let’s talk about a few principles to keep in mind when evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each environment.
1. Education is about much more than simply attaining knowledge. It is as much about how to learn as it is what to learn. Therefore, your choice of academic environment must teach students learning skills as well as deliver knowledge.
2. Education is also about attainment of skills that will lead to success in all areas of life. Therefore, academic programs must either directly provide a varied experience or accommodate alternative experiences in some other setting. For example, speaking in front of a group of people is a valuable skill. A student can learn how to research, outline, and deliver a speech without ever interacting with other students. Delivering the speech, however, is no theoretical matter. The student needs to do so in front of a group in order to master the skill.
3. Not all families have the same list of priorities pertaining to education. An environment that works well for one family may not work at all for another. The key is to understand your family priorities and your child’s needs and then identify the school that will best fit each.
Adapted from Handbook on Choosing Your Child’s Education, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers. Copyright © 2007, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.