Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Book review: Going public: Your child can thrive in public school
And this is where this book comes in. The Pritchards are parents to eight children so often people assume (especially since it is American) that they would be homeschooling. But after much prayer and discussion with others they decided to send their first child to the local school and haven't looked back. And they are very, very committed to Christian parenting (much more than I would ever advocate myself - up at 6:30am for family prayers - wow!). When asked about homeschooling they say:
"We smile at the question. Then we reply enthusiastically. 'Yes! We definitely homeschool our children .. and starting at age five, we also send them to public school to get more information. We consider ourselves to be our children's number-one educators, and we will never give up that responsibility or privilege - even though they spend 30 hours a week in somebody else's classroom. We instruct our kids everyday. We look for the teachable moments that intersect with what they are experiencing outside our home. We draw frames around their encounters and activities, showing how they fit within God's greater perspective."
Each year they review their schooling decisions and start each year saying:
"We go there together. This is a family expedition. When we show up each August to enroll our kids for another school year, we are enrolling our family into the life of this institution. This is a joint venture"
For them working out how to be a constructive and positive influence in the school is a huge part of this joint venture. They are keen to contribute to problem solving. They have a whole chapter titled "The Magic of Being Nice" that speaks of the power of being servant hearted and other person centred in their dealings with the teachers and staff at the school.
While I didn't agree with every aspect of their parenting approach (a lot of it is too Christiany/Americany for me as an Aussie) and I think it is short on God's grace and saving work in Jesus, it is encouraging to read a book that reflects a good deal of thinking and experience about how to be a Christian family in a state school. They are very committed to giving their kids a great education. But they are more committed to helping their kids grow into a strong faith and trust in God's goodness, able to face the realities of the world.