According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 10% of all elementary and secondary students (nearly 6 million students) in the US attend private school. More than 70% of them attend a religiously affiliated school (Christian or Catholic), which means a key reason parents choose private school is for religious education.
Since private schooling often comes with a hefty price tag and strong parental involvement, it would make sense that parents choose it because it offers something of great value to them: a solid education in addition to reinforced spiritual development.
So, is it worth it?
I have not parented a child who has attended private school, but I am a product of both a Christian high school and college, so I’d like to offer some firsthand pros and cons to choosing private, Christian education.
Reasons to Send Your Child to Christian School (Pros):
1. Your child will be taught from a Biblical perspective which will (hopefully) help them form a Biblical world view.
As a high school student I greatly disliked Science. Nothing about the subject appealed to me. Give me a sentence to diagram or a literature test any day, but please don’t make me cut open a frog!
Then I took Anatomy for one semester. I don’t even remember the teacher’s name, but she was one of my favorite teachers. Why? She was passionate about what she taught, not for the subject matter itself but because of the Creator behind it. I remember several times in class, she would stop and say, “Isn’t our God so good that He would create us so wonderfully?”
Yes, there are public school teachers who are passionate about their subjects. And yes, there are public school teachers who are committed Christians. But there is a freedom in Christian schools to teach from a Christ-centered perspective that simply isn’t available in public school.
2. The school will support your beliefs and values.
Every student at my school took a Bible class. We were taught the Bible (and required to memorize portions of it) as well as Christian doctrine and Church history. It was an invaluable education for me as a teenager learning to navigate my own faith. There were no school activities on Wednesday nights so that we could attend church. And involvement in church activities (missions trips, etc.) was greatly encouraged.
3. Your child will have Christian friends.
While not every student at a Christian school is a Christian, many are. Chances are greater that your child will develop lifelong friendships with others who believe what they do and can encourage them in their faith.
Things to Consider (potential Cons)
1. Attending a Christian school will not shelter your child from sin.
Having attended both public and Christian schools, I can attest to the fact that a Christian school will not shelter your child from issues he or she might encounter at a public school.
At my Christian school, I saw a fight break out in the girl’s locker room. I heard tales of drunken, weekend parties. There were rumors of drug use and drug dealing. And I promise you, the language was just as “colorful” as anything I heard in public school (just not when teachers were present).
But I also made some lifelong friends with whom I studied the Bible and grew in my faith (see #3 above). Be aware that students in Christian schools make poor choices just like students in public school. Equip your child to think for herself and make right choices even among her “Christian” friends.
2. If it is a small school, your child may be limited in opportunities.
There are some large Christian schools that have tremendous academic and athletic programs available. There are also many small schools that are doing the best they can to provide quality education and opportunities.
Mine was the latter, but I don’t feel that it hindered me. As a matter of fact, it gave me more opportunities than I would have had at a larger school. My non-athletic self played varsity volleyball and basketball throughout high school. And I was third chair trumpet for the concert band (out of three trumpet players ;)).
We lived in a large city, and had I attended a much larger public school, I would have never had the experiences I did at my much smaller Christian school. I went on to discover my passion for words in college and left my dreams of playing in the WNBA far behind.
3. It may be expensive.
Private schools usually are. If that’s not an issue for you, then great! But many times cost can be a prohibitive factor in private education. I know many schools offer programs that can help. If you are considering a private, Christian education and are concerned about cost, contact the school’s administrative office and find out what options are available.