Choosing a Christian School in the Twin Cities
Deciding on the school that is right for your children - and for your family - can be a challenge. It seems that, as parents, the many options in front of us can paralyze us into indecision or into hasty decisions. It’s about more than what’s convenient or what’s popular. It’s about more than test scores or statistics. It’s about what’s best for your family and for your child. When it comes to choosing a Christian school in the Twin Cities, there are many options with many different approaches to learning.
And the potential implications seem much weightier.
If your family is talking seriously about Christian school options in the Twin Cities, we’ve done our best to help you have a good conversation - the RIGHT conversation - about your next steps.
Faith and Learning
This may seem like an obvious point to make. Wouldn’t every Christian school make the same claim, that they’re integrating faith and learning? The answer to that is probably a strong and resounding “YES.” Their understanding of what it means to integrate the two, however, will vary.
Is the Bible a class or is the Bible a lens?
When the Bible is a class, it’s contents, principles, and implications throughout all other subjects is isolated to a single classroom and curriculum. Bible is Bible. Science is science.
When the Bible is a lens, however, through which learning, and the entire world, is viewed, it shapes the school’s philosophy of learning, teaching, grading and measurement, and training. The Bible’s wisdom, context, and principles are found throughout all of the subjects.
When the Bible is a lens...
Within an integrated system of learning, math is not a list of obscure terms or random formulas. It is the perfect language of creation.
Within an integrated system of learning, history is not a look back at the past to learn what. It is the study of what, how, and why. It is the study of ideas and how their consequences played out in individual lives, nations, and political systems.
Within an integrated system of learning, the arts are not random pastimes or dismissible electives. They are how humanity reflects what it means to be created in the image of God.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. - C.S. Lewis
In its most basic definition, education is intended to prepare students for whatever is to come, whether in the classroom or in life.
Is education a bucket we fill or a fire we start?
The above is a quote often attributed to William Butler Yeats, but not necessarily documented anywhere as such. The wisdom that’s intrinsically woven into its contents, however, is indisputable. Academic readiness isn’t an empty pursuit of knowledge so that tests can be passed and grades can be given. It’s the igniting of a love for learning and life that equips students with the ability to live according to what is true.
Schools that value academic readiness can be identified by some basic indicators.
This one isn’t universally true. Some good schools aren’t accredited. Some bad ones are. But accreditation gives you a starting point for a conversation.
Is the school affiliated with various accrediting bodies? If so, research the accreditation groups to learn their standards, values, and expectations on accredited schools. If they are not accredited, find out why. Are they pursuing it? What plans and systems do they have to hold their education programs accountable?
Can the school provide you with its curriculum plan? Does the plan seem cohesive? Does the plan include goals for what a graduate “looks like” in terms of academic preparedness and personal character?
Does the school help students plan for their future? How organized is the program? What are their goals for graduates? Schools that are serious about college and career counseling will be able to demonstrate a clear strategy for helping students discover their passions and pursue their plans.
What can you learn about the faculty at the school? What kind of training do the teachers have? Are policies in place that have educational or certification standards for the faculty? The teachers at your child’s Christian school should have been hired based on hiring standards and requirements that reflect strong academic values as well as the spiritual, cultural, and professional considerations.
Community & Culture
The education choice you make will have implications for your family. The culture of your home will be impacted by the school your children attend. The friends they make and the families you meet will have an influence on your experience.
Understanding how the culture of the school you’re considering has been developed, how it is sustained, and what efforts are made to protect and preserve it is an important part of choosing the school that’s right for your family.
What are the school's admission standards? What expectations are placed on individuals or families associated with the school? Is there a statement of faith that parents must sign? Are there certain “codes” you should be aware of?
What kinds of community events are commonly hosted by the school? Understanding how they define community and how they invest in it and support it will help you determine whether the school’s culture aligns with your family’s values.
Are parents asked to volunteer at the school? What kinds of roles do they ask parents to fill? If families are invited to (or expected to) take part in the school’s operation, it means that families will heavily influence and impact the culture of the classroom.
Deciding on Next Steps
The right school for your children - and for your family - is much more than an academic decision. As you consider the Christian schools throughout the Twin Cities, do your homework! And as you come to understand each school’s perspectives on academics, the Bible, and community, you’ll be able to measure it’s connection to your own family’s culture.
We’ll continue to unpack this topic in the coming weeks, doing our best to help families around the Twin Cities make the right choice for their children’s education.