The bell shrilled and the gates unlocked. Down the halls a wave of parents moved towards their children's classrooms. It was the third day in our son's public school. As soon as he saw me in the doorway, he grinned.
As the mother of a first time Kindergartner, I thought my oldest son would have some separation anxiety, feel a bit bewildered, or simply be exhausted. I should have known better. He's always been an assured little guy, and able to adjust to circumstances.
“How was your day?” I asked. “Great. But Mommy, teacher doesn't know Jesus.” he said matter-of-factly.
Day 3, of Kindergarten and my faith-filled son has already learned that his public school teacher doesn't know God in the same way he does.
To be honest, my first reaction was concern. I wondered how this had come up so quickly and sincerely hoped that the teacher was not offended. We often talk about friends or people we meet at the park who may not be Christ-followers and how we are called to love them and tell them about Jesus. So it wasn't a total shock when Oliver shared this news with me.
Oliver was pretty simplistic about it. “I just told him about how Jesus is God's Son and that they live in Heaven.” he quipped.
“Was your teacher okay with you telling him that?” I asked.
“Uh huh.” he mumbled as he chewed on his after school snack.
And that was that.
Until a couple weeks later.
I picked Oliver up and sat him on a nearby bench in the schoolyard to tie his shoe. “Mommy, it was David's birthday today and all the kids got cool water bottles with a balloon attached. But there wasn't enough and my friend Renaldo didn't get one. So I told teacher that Renaldo could have mine. Cause you know what Mommy? I told my teacher, toys and material things don't matter. Only God and Jesus matter.”
And there you have it. So yes, I did stop at the ice cream shop to bless my son for blessing others. :)
These moments were an answer to prayer for me. All along, my husband and I have said that we wanted our kids to go to public school. And for the record, I do not believe that any school is a wrong school. I taught in private Christian schools for nearly ten years and am always open to homeschooling my kids should that be where the Lord leads us. But we felt a strong sense that the Holy Spirit would have us send our kids to public school at this time.
Our main impression was that God wanted us in the thick of our neighborhood, building relationships. One of the most obvious ways for us to do that is to be a light to the families we meet through the public school system.
We want to make an impression for Christ in our community-to our neighbors-and we feel that being in the lives of the families in our son's school is a perfect opportunity. Sure enough-only 6 weeks in and we have been to two birthday parties, beach days with some of his peers and their families, fundraiser events, and volunteering where we have had a chance to genuinely get to know the amazing people connected to our son's classroom.
Initially, we did tons of research and lots of praying-and were thrilled when a week before school started, Oliver was accepted into a charter school that was our number one choice because of their philosophy, curriculum, and academic approach-right where we live.
But when that first day came, I second guessed myself for a moment. The fears began to cross my mind until I prayed and felt the Holy Spirit's comfort that the doors had Providentially opened and that for me, making decisions out of fear is a weak and sinful approach.
I had asked myself, “What if they influence him wrongly? How will he handle it when they teach something we don't believe? Will he be secure enough at this young age to handle opposition?”
In those first few weeks, God gave me the gift of seeing that I am the influencer of my children. I am the one to point them to Jesus. I am the one to keep leading them back to the right path, just as we have done from the time they were born.
I needn’t have worried. Oliver knows the truth. He asked Jesus to wash away his sins and lives out his faith on a daily basis. Unlike me, he is not ever afraid or hesitant to share it. When he hears something that is counter to what he knows is the Truth, he thinks it's silly and understands that not everyone knows about God.
I'm not losing sleep over what the public school may teach my son. I'm already seeing that Oliver is being given opportunities to be strong in his life as a believer. He has excellent and caring teachers who I am deeply thankful for and who allow my son to be himself. He's thriving there!
I'm pretty sure that instead of being concerned about how a secular environment will affect Oliver, I can rest assured that my son is affecting his secular environment.
God is watching over every detail of Ollie's day. He does not enter those gates alone. His armor is on and he is using it for good. I can see the confident man he will become who is not surprised that the world looks different from his foundation at home-a man prepared to love God and love others. My husband and I are diligent in shaping his world view and we already see the fruit of that in Oliver's life.
So if you are that mom or dad who is worrying like I did about the choices you made for public school this year, entrust your son or daughter to God's care and realize that YOU are the one who they get their worldview from and that the Truth we hide in their hearts is not meant to be hidden. Find peace in the fact that when we write God's Word on the door frames of our houses and on the tablets of their hearts, that it cannot be stripped away by an encounter with an opposite message. Know that it can help them to recognize a lie and make them stronger.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9
CAVEAT: This post is for the parents of public school children who may be worried about the influence of a secular education. I know that all schools vary and have different pros and cons. The moment that one type of school becomes a detriment to my son, I am ready and able to change it. It is not a treatise on one type of school being right or wrong. I believe that private, public, and home schools are all equally able to influence our children for good and that each option is valuable and appropriate for whatever individual families choose. This is simply my own journey of thought and confirmation that this was a good choice for us at this time and how God works to affirm us when we follow the Holy Spirit's leading. Thank you!!
(This post is a personal anecdote about our journey and not meant to be a debate-if your comments contain thoughts that are not in the spirit intended for this post are I feel are not biblically sound, they will be deleted. Thank you!)
YOUR TURN!! How has your child's school experience blessed you? How has your child pleasantly surprised you as they navigate school and their peers?
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