By Mt. Bethel Christian Academy
Lower school options – public and private – abound. How do you know you're making the right choice for your child? The decision is a big one, and making it is a journey for many parents. If you are considering independent Christian education for your son or daughter, you're probably asking yourself, "Is there a guaranteed return on this investment?" The answer is YES.
To start, independent Christian schools as a whole have an impressive percentage of students involved in extracurricular activities and leadership opportunities, which help develop responsibility, discipline, and hearts for serving others. Additionally, the safe and secure learning environment of a private Christian school is a proven key to student success. Christian education supports a positive, Bible-based value system, which most likely mirrors the structure you have in place at your own home. Christian schools focus on character development, and kids often adopt the values of their peers and their teachers. This overall reinforcement helps ensure that your child will learn how to make good choices.
William Bennett, former Secretary of Education, once said, “Except for family and church, no institution (elementary school) is so influential… We expect them to teach basic knowledge and nourish the appetite for learning." Lisa Kelly, Lower School Head at Mt. Bethel Christian Academy in East Cobb, has worked for the last 16 years with Mr. Bennett's theory as the centerpiece of her teaching philosophy.
"Having your kindergartner start his educational journey in an independent Christian school is one of the most valuable things you can do in setting up his love for school and appetite for learning in the years to come," Kelly explains. "Kindergarten in a public school has two essential functions: academic and social growth. In a Christian school setting, we have a third essential function: spiritual growth. Children who feel comfortable to take chances because they know they are loved by not only their peers and teachers, but also by a God who loves and accepts them for who they are, are children who feel secure and embrace the learning process itself."
Put simply, children who are given the opportunity to grow and explore in that loving safety net will be successful learners throughout the rest of their lives. And the sooner they start, the better. "We’re teaching students more than reading and math; we’re teaching students that God gave each one of them unique gifts and talents that make them special in their own individual ways," Kelly continues. "And when a young child starting his educational journey believes that about himself and has that truth nurtured as he progresses through school, there’s no limit to what he can accomplish!"
There are many paths for getting your child a quality education. But keeping your eye on the path – not just the goal – truly matters. A path that includes intentional learning and Christian formation will lead your child to become the person God is calling him to be, developing gifts and strengths that will allow him to be a force for good and to lead with love.