- - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Culture challenge of the week: Know what your kids are learning

Our children spend more awake time in schoolrooms during their formative years than just about any other place. But it seems that most parents don’t have a clue what their children are being taught.

Even the most expensive private school can be a moral wasteland. A high price tag might indicate academic excellence, but it also can reflect a level of intellectual snobbery or an air of superiority that assumes that faith in God and traditional values are foolish.

Conversely, many religious schools lack an emphasis on academic achievement. The bottom line is that you have to do your homework before you can be certain that a private school is all you hope for.

Don’t get me wrong: There has been a rise in the number of private schools that can help children excel spiritually and academically. It’s important to assume nothing and to check out everything available to you.


SEE ALSO: HAGELIN: Safety and adventure coexist in life of faith


With school season upon us, remember this: It is never too late to make a change. It might be too late to get into the private school of your choice, but there are other options.

Study after study reveals that American public education is failing, compared to the rest of the civilized world. Add to that rampant student behavioral problems and sexually explicit “family life education” materials, and you’ve got a host of reasons not to send your children to public school.

This is not meant to bash you if your children are in a public school. My own children attended our local public high schools. The point is to be diligent about finding out what goes on in the classroom and whether your values are under attack. If you have the slightest indication that your child may be influenced by the lack of morality on display in government schools, I strongly urge you to look for other educational options.

If you determine that your children will attend public or private schools, vow to exercise your parental rights and responsibility to be involved in their education.

Making the commitment to become an active participant in your child’s education is the first and most important decision you will make when preparing the family to head “back to school.”

Your participation includes reading textbooks, interacting with teachers, understanding your rights as a parent, questioning materials, and never, ever assuming someone else knows how to teach your child better than you do.

How to save your family: Direct your child’s education

Evaluate each of your children’s needs and your academic choices. My husband and I learned in raising three children that they will never be cookie-cutter images of each other: They have different strengths and weaknesses, different tolerance levels, and different personalities.

Each child has a different way of learning, and it’s up to you to decide how and where he or she should be educated.

Every parent should have the freedom to select the educational setting that is best for each of their children, what I call “parent-directed education.” God gave your children to you — and it is you who must direct their education.

My husband and I exposed our children to a variety of settings over the years — home-school, private school and public school. We determined long ago that our family would march to the beat of our own drummer, so we refused to be victims of snobbery by parents who insisted that private schools are always best; we didn’t allow ourselves to be shamed by parents who insisted that if we didn’t home-school, we were less committed to our kids than they were to theirs; and we rejected the conventional wisdom that public education is the answer and the notion that all public schools are failing schools.

We also never forced all of our children into one educational mold for convenience. It makes life a little more complicated to have to evaluate what situations are best for your individual children, but it is absolutely worth it.

Consider every option, including home schooling. Research schools in your area. What are the test scores? Are there behavior problems? How are students disciplined? How much parental involvement is allowed? What textbooks are used? How do they teach sex education?

The bottom line is: If a school keeps you in the dark about materials, procedures or personal involvement, it may have a hidden agenda. Maybe academic content emerges as the problem, or maybe an attitude of superiority keeps you locked out of your child’s education.

In either case, I have one piece of advice: Grab your kids and run for their lives! If adults in “authority” ever try to force their brand of morality on your child, just get up and go.

If you decide it is time to take full control of your child’s education by home schooling, you must realize that the mass media and others will criticize you for it.

“Home schooling” is actually a misnomer, misrepresenting the many ways parents provide instruction for their children. Much of home schooling is done through co-ops, or by hiring tutors skilled in specific areas, in group settings or online through acclaimed institutions.

Given all the support and technology available today, you might be surprised to find that home schooling is right for you and your children. We were blessed to home-school our children for seven years. Now that they are grown, I am grateful for every extra minute I had with them.

Childhood is fleeting — and I treasure the time I spent learning about the beautiful, unique individuals who God allowed me to mother and to teach.

Vigilance is the key to succeed in developing your child’s emotional, intellectual, and spiritual abilities to the fullest.

Before you know it, your children will be going from their first step to walking down the graduation aisle and out your door. Make sure you’ve given them the right education to face life’s challenges with wisdom, optimism, courage and a strong moral compass.

Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at [email protected]


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