Make the Most of the Public School Experience

I am often asked what my views are on home schooling versus Christian school versus public school.  I have pretty strong views on all three but that is for a different blog post.

Today I want to give parents suggestions for success when they are sending their child to public school.  I made the choice to send Sydney to public school, but many Christian parents send their children there because they have no other choice.  Let's face it, private schools are expensive!  Home schooling requires one parent to be home and is not financially feasible for every family.  When that is the case, the kids must go to "free" public school.  Some parents feel anxious about that decision.

Sydney is in second grade now, so I have had a few years to learn my way as a Christian parent of a public school student.  Here are my tips to make this experience the best:

1. Get Involved!-  There are many ways to get involved in your child's class and their school.   

Volunteer as a class parent.  This will afford you the opportunity to go on your child's class trips and to be in attendance during class parties and events.  By being present in the classroom, you get to see the teacher in action and you get to know the children that your child spends their day.   

Some schools have a limited number of class parents so being the class mom may not be an option for you.  You can still volunteer.  Offer to come in to class and do a craft or lesson with the kids.  Volunteer to be a reader.  When I was teaching, I loved having an extra set of hands.  Sydney's teacher have always been willing to let me come in and read.  This year her teacher allowed me to come in and do a craft with the kids.  It was awesome to see the interaction between Sydney and her teacher and I got to know the kids in the class better. In Kindergarten, a friend and I went in and helped the class plant flowers.

The schools in New Jersey give parents the opportunity to observe their child's class during Education week.  Take this opportunity.  It doesn't matter what part of the day you see.  It is important that both your child and your child's teacher know that you care and are involved.  The teacher will be more willing to come to you and share her concerns or praises if she has seen you in person and knows that you want to be involved.

2. Ask Questions- I learned early on that asking Sydney, "How was your day?"  was not going to tell me much.  She would always answer with, "Good."  

Ask probing questions such as:

"What was your favorite part of the day today?"

"What was the funniest thing that happened today?"

"What was the most boring part of the day?"

"Who did you play with at recess and what did you play?"

"What was the most interesting part of your day?"

If you ask your child every day when they get off the bus, they will come to expect this inquisition.    Sydney says she thinks about it during the day.  She says when something happens she thinks to herself, "I need to remember this to tell mom."

If your child is used to talking with you, they will be more likely to share with you if something is wrong at school.

3. Remember that you are Responsible for your Child's Spiritual Education- Enroll your child in classes at your church.  When a child attends Christian or Catholic school, they are getting religious instruction on a daily basis. (I would know.  I spent 12 years in a Christian school growing up.)  When your child goes to a public school, it is solely your responsibility.  You need to be consistent and attend your church regularly.    Enroll your child in a children's program at your church.  My church, Sayre Woods Bible Church, offers an AWANA program for children on Thursday nights.  There, Sydney and Lucas are able to learn about the BIble and our faith since they won't receive that instruction in school.  During the week, we practice our lessons and verses.  Just because your child attends public school, it doesn't mean that they can't have Biblical instruction. 

4. Stay Positive- Don't trash talk your child's school.   Even if sending them to that school was your last resort.  Speak positively about your child's school and teacher.  This is your child's "home" for 6+ hours of the day.     If you have concerns about your child's teacher, express them to the principal at the school.  Don't share them with your child.  

5. Don't Believe the Hype- So many people grow up with preconceived notions about what public school is.  When I was younger, I attended Christian school all the way through my senior year.  I would hear parents say that public school was evil, that public school teaches your child to be gay, that public school doesn't have any character education and so on.  Don't believe what you hear through the "grapevine".  Do the research for yourself.  Go to your local library and check out the curriculum for your child's school.  If you see anything that you are unsure of, make an appointment with the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for your district and ask questions.  If you are still concerned, you are allowed to "opt out" of any instruction that goes against your religious beliefs.  Find out for yourself!  Do not believe the gossip!

6. Pray for your Child- This is something that all parents should be doing regardless of where they attend school.  Make it part of your daily routine to pray for your child's safety and interactions at school.  Pray that they will be a positive role model and a "light" to others.


  1. I want to hear your thoughts about your own experiences with the "Christian" schools. THAT would make an interesting blog post...

    1. Dale- you know that is coming one day! Would you like to be a guest blogger?

  2. Sure. I am actually thinking about setting up my own blog, but sure. We could write vignettes...

  3. Dale- your blog would be hilarious. I love your warped sense of humor!

  4. Oh, I think you could write some interesting memoir as well.

  5. As a product of both Christian and Public education, and as a christian public school teacher, I agree with so much of what you say, Amy! We welcome parents' involvement in our school, and frankly I WISH I had more parents like you (I've had a few!)
    Light & Salt,

  6. It's such a breath of fresh air to read a post from a fellow Christian blogger that's looking at public school in a positive light! We've chosen, thus far, to send our kids to public elementary school and junior high. While I understand it's not for every family or every situation, it's been a blessing for our family (although I was initially leery, because, like you, I grew up in a Christian school).

    In Christ,

    1. Thank you Melissa for your comments! I am glad to hear that public school has worked for you!

  7. These are great tips. My little one is not in school yet and right now we are not sure where she will be but it gets me thinking. Thanks!

  8. To be honest I am not exactly a very religous person but I do believe that its important for every parent to be involved in thier child education and I think your after school questions are great

  9. Hi Amy,

    Great post! I was a public school kid growing up. I had some icky experiences but for the most part, things were great! What I loved was my mom's involvement with school (class parent, PTA, Bake sales, etc.). I think it was what made school fun. Thanks for sharing this @ The SHOW OFF Weekend Blog Party!

    The Wondering Brain

  10. Very interesting post! :) I grew up in a Christian home, the daughter of a Baptist preacher & I went to our church's private school. My older brothers went to public school, so a lot of this hits home. :) As one of the co-hosts from the My Favorite Posts Weekend SHOW OFF Party! I wanted to personally thank you for linking up with us & to invite you to add me to your G+ circles or follow me on Twitter or Facebook as I’ve done the same with you. Also, I run a link party on my food blog, Anyonita Nibbles where you can link up recipes or food related posts. This week’s party is here:

  11. These are some excellent tips Amy ~ especially the first one! When I was going through school both my parents worked but my mother still stayed involved in the process and helped out where she could.
    Great advice!

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

  12. I think a lot about homeschooling vs. public school. I am not sure what path we will choose but it won't be one we take lightly. That is for sure.

    Thank you for linking up to Raising Imperfection!
    Make sure to check back on Friday to see if you were featured.

    1. Hi Leslie, - couldn't help but see your comment...I am a homeschool grad who is currently homeschooling.... I recently have been writing a series, 10 Reasons not to Home School, at my blog you may find it interesting...

  13. Love this post Amy!! I am a home school grad who is homeschooling right now but we've also seriously considered sending him to our great local school and may in the future.... I've often been nervous at the thought since I have no experience in it to guide me, so finding a post like this is SO encouraging! I can't wait to look around your blog more!
    Rebecca from

  14. My daughter is going into her second year of public school, and I couldn't be happier. I work full time, but I am still involved with the pta, field trips, class parties, etc. The principal and most of the teachers know me and my daughter. I encourage everyone to send their kids to public school; the more concerned and involved parents with children at the schools the better the schools become. Traci

  15. I have always been very involved with my kids who are both in public school. My husband went to private Christian school from 6th-12th and I was in public for my whole education (including college)... I agree with the "hype" issue. There have been many homeschool moms who tsked that I was exposing my babies to the wiles of the world... I am convinced that going to public school gave me the confidence to talk to anyone, Christian or not, about my faith in a non-offensive way. :) Love this!

  16. Amy, Thanks for linking up to mommy mondays. As school is beginning we've had different discussions on what we will do with our kids. And we have 3 years so who knows what will happen at that time. But we've talked about how if we do send them to public school (which is likely for many reasons) we will have to be VERY intentional in spending quality time with them in the evening and not neglect our responsibility for their spiritual education.

  17. Hi Amy,

    I just posted today about our choice to home school and I point out that schooling is a very personal choice. I LOVE your positive attitude about public schooling and your tips for being a Christian family in a public school environment.

    If you're interested, I'd love to have you share this at my Show & Tell party this week.

  18. Great tips! I especially like #2 because it really helps to answer open-ended sentences rather than ones that they can answer with one word, lol!

    We homeschooled, but I have many friends who put their children in public school and the parents were involved and really everything went fine! I mean, the kids had their moments with certain problems (such as bullying and peer pressure) but when the parents stay involved, they can help their children navigate those waters! Thanks for linking up to Making Your Home Sing Monday! :)

  19. Thank you for posting. The information you provided is much needed. Some parents think that once they send their kids off to school, it's the teacher's responsibility to turn the kid into a model kid. There is still a lot of work to be done at home. Even though I work full time, I still chaperone field trips, send items for the class and help out whenever I can.

  20. Great tips!! I love your viewpoint on this too! Thanks for sharing at Project Inspired!! Pinned to our group pinboard for some extra luv! Heather

  21. Great tips Amy! I love the questions idea and volunteering. I don't have kids but, I use to volunteer at my little sister' school :) I loved the experience! Thanks for sharing this at the Less Laundry, More Linking party. Hope to see you linking up again this week.

  22. Love these tips! I would add to also get to know the school's administrators. So much of school policy and the general atmosphere of a school depends on the leadership. We've been blessed with two godly men as principals at our son's schools. We actually drive them to a different school system because we know the leadership there. I strongly agree with your tip about your child's spiritual education and I would even say that kids going to Christian schools still need home education in spiritual matters as well. I'm visiting from the Babies and Beyond link-up. :)

  23. Finally, it's wonderful to hear something positive about public school. Both my sons went to public schools and turned out just find and I agree with everything you have written. Get involved is my number one trip it's the key to success. I think many mums have fears that are unfounded and duplicate them to other parents. Many Christians parents send their children to school and have great success.


  24. Great post with so many fantastic reasons - I went to a non-christian public school while a best friend went to the catholic one just across the foot path I think it was very different for us both but we both had good experience.

    Thank you for link up with the I Love My Post Blog Hop

    Life in a Break Down

  25. I love this! It's so refreshing to hear a balanced opinion on the whole public, private, and home school issue. Mostly school is what you make it!

    I'm featuring this post on Babies and Beyond this week. Feel free to stop by and link up again!

  26. This is a great post. There are so many preconceived notions about all of the schooling choices. My kids attended public and Christian schools and were homeschooled too. So my viewpoint is very open about schooling.

  27. I love this post! I look forward to the days that my children will enjoy in school, no matter if they attend public, private, or are home-schooled. The importance of keeping Christ first can never be overlooked!

    Thanks for sharing at the NEW #PinFest!

  28. Thank you so much for this post. We are in this very predicament with our son starting kindergarten this year. Our choice for schooling was charter school, and we were pleasantly surprised we were able to be chosen (our state uses a "lottery" system). I also attended a private Christian school for most of my education. And I also had the same information pumped into me about how wicked and horrible the public school system is. A last resort for us would be homeschooling, but truthfully, as a very busy and tired mom of three toddlers (5, 3, and 15 mth old) allowing some control to let a professional, caring teacher do the "reading, writing, and arithmetic" portion of his education is a big burden off my shoulders. I especially appreciate you stressing that it is our responsibility as Christian parents to teach our children the truth of the Bible. On a side note, I can count on ONE hand how many of my classmates from my Christian school are actually still living with the morals and values they were taught.

    1. This is a good point about long-term effects/benefits of Christian schooling. I also know many people who grew up going to a Christian school, and some who were home-schooled, who no longer profess to follow Christ.

      Thanks for writing this post, Amy. A friend shared it with me after I wrote a blog entry about urban living ( Your thoughts encourage me to not shy away from a public school just because it gets a bad name.


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