Peruse the handbook of almost any Christian school, and you will most likely encounter the verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). It is usually found in the school’s purpose, vision, or philosophy statement. In other words, it is the underlying principle for the school’s existence. This should be a comfort and inspiration to the Christian parent whose mission in parenting is the same!
In Scripture, parents are ordained as the God-given authority over children; the church is the God-given authority over believers. With these two entities working together, they can delegate authority to a school that will continue to carry out the same mission in training children as Scripture dictates. Put these three together (the home, the church, and the school) and you will find that “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). If a child is being taught the same truth from the three primary institutions that dominate his or her life, a firm foundation is laid that cannot easily be shaken.
So, what should a partnership between a Christian school and Christian parents look like in order to complete this “cord of three strands”? First, there must be a common and agreed-upon belief system and purpose. You cannot have a true partnership without this. Be sure you understand the school’s statement of faith and are committed to the same basic scriptural principles for training children. If you are in agreement, then . . .
The school should
1. Recognize you, the parent, as the God-given authority in the student’s life. If this is true, the school will teach students to respect and obey their parents. The school will support parents’ decisions and respectfully consider parents’ concerns.
2. Commit to open and frequent communication. There shouldn’t be any surprises when it comes to parent-teacher conferences or when report cards come home.
3. Commit to love and respect each student. All teachers and school staff should be believers who, through their pursuit of Christlikeness, have a genuine love for children and a desire for their spiritual and academic growth.
In turn, the parent should
1. Trust the teachers and administration and give them the benefit of the doubt. Communication is the key to this trust. Get to know your children’s teachers, the principal, and even the office staff. Let them know that you believe the best of them, so that when a problem arises, it will be much easier to discuss if there is a feeling of mutual trust and respect.
2. Support the teachers’ authority. When you release your children into the hands of a Christian school, be sure you understand what is expected of them. You may find that some methods are not the methods you would choose, but recognize the structure and consistency that is needed to operate a school.
3. Be involved. Your child’s education is ultimately your responsibility, so it is imperative that you participate in it as much as you are able.
But what if you still can’t agree? Examine the root of the issue. Is it because you feel the school is violating a biblical command or principle? If it is, remember you are responsible for your child’s training and this may not be the best partnership to achieve your goals. If it isn’t, find a way to reconcile. As with any relationship, there will be disagreements and misunderstandings, but in a partnership founded on God’s truth and a mutual desire to grow in Christ-likeness, there is also great blessing.