Wise Words on School Choices, Parenting, and Just Plain Being Nice

Last Mother’s Day our son Bjorn gave me a book which grabbed my interest immediately: Going Public by David and Kelli Pritchard.  The subtitle is: Your Child Can Thrive in the Public School.   I hear from many moms who are struggling with schooling decisions for their kids.  So I was very curious to see what these authors, the parents of 8 children who have been educated in public schools, had to say.

Here’s what I found: The Pritchards provide a persuasive but Godly, balanced perspective on how public school education can be an excellent choice for many families.  They offer terrific specific suggestions on how to guide your children through public school experience.  They illustrate time and again how their interaction with both their kids and with the kids’ teachers provided teachable moments for all involved.  Everyone grew through the process.   I love the positive attitude and prayerful, intentional strategies they offer for navigating public school life.

But what I loved even more was the basic, foundational principles the Pritchards outline for raising Godly kids.  Much of the book is devoted to explaining the three most important things to teach your kids: to love the Lord your God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength; to obey you unconditionally; and to learn and practice self-control.  Those are three foundational goals for any Christian home, I’d say, whether your kids are in public school, Christian schools, or home-schooled.

As I read the book, I kept thinking that this is a great book for any parent who wants to raise Godly kids.   Having seen our three kids through many years of both public and Christian schools, I resonated with many of the examples the authors gave about maintaining healthy and positive relationships with your children’s teachers, other parents, and the community in general.

One disclaimer: The family life that the Pritchards describe is based on a greater flexibility of schedule than many a family enjoys—including ours when we were raising our kids.  They work with a wonderful Christian organization called Young Life.  Since  our son and daughter-in-law are on Young Life staff,  I know first hand how incredibly busy Young Life staff can be.  And especially a couple raising eight kids of their own!    But the nature of the work does allow more flexibility for day-time involvement with school, sports, and community events.

The Pritchards are not on a mission to get every family to send their kids to public schools.  Nor are they suggesting every family should look just like theirs.  Their writing is not prescriptive, but descriptive.

What I love most of all about the book is the gracious, loving spirit with which it is written.  In fact, one of their best chapters can be applied to almost any situation in church and community life, no matter what your school choices: “The Magic of Being Nice.”  Even in some bold positions they take which are controversial (e.g. on mothers staying at home with kids), their views are presented with grace.

I Peter 3:15 comes to mind.  This is a book worth reading!