Kindergarten and big questions

In less than two months my oldest son will start kindergarten. As we approach this milestone I’m filled with all the normal emotions, misgivings and uncertainties. My baby is growing up and the routine of living as we’ve known it for four years is about to change. He’s embarking on a new and exciting phase of his life, one that will fill his days for years to come and will provide an important foundation for his future. School will be the single biggest influence in his life outside of what we do at home. The significance of this scares me a little.

Several months ago I wrote a post about how we had decided to baptize our children Catholic. My husband and I are Catholic, however, we don’t, nor were we raised to actively practice our faith. I attended a Catholic elementary school, received all of my sacraments, but my family didn’t attend church on a regular basis. In fact, outside of the main denominational holidays, we hardly went to church at all. My husband didn’t receive his sacraments and didn’t attend a Catholic school.

Earlier this year, when it came time to decide where to send our children to school it wasn’t immediately obvious that we should send them to Catholic school, even though they were baptized. I thought long and hard about what the choice would mean for our family. My husband isn’t the type to worry about this kind of stuff, so the considering is mostly left up to me. I knew that a decision to send him to Catholic school meant, at the very least, a peripheral commitment to raise him in acceptance of this faith. I wanted to be completely comfortable with that.

A few weeks ago we attended a kindergarten information session. We were given a copy of the book Yellow Bear Goes to Catholic School which addresses some of the common anxieties associated with starting school, and as the title suggests, introduces concepts associated with Catholic school such as the church, the bible, a priest and Jesus. We read it to our son before reading it ourselves. I’ll admit we raised our eyebrows a few times, and C also seemed a bit concerned. To be fair, it was likely the thought of starting school that was the cause for him.

For a non-religious family, the story was somewhat startling. Not because we aren’t faithful people, because we are, we just don’t ascribe to the principles of the church and organized religion.

Part of the reason I decided to send our children to Catholic school was my understanding that a denominational education today is more about values and less about religion. That this environment would provide an important complement the moral framework we practice at home. Before reading this book we hadn’t introduced our son to the concepts of faith, church and Jesus. In reading this book, I was reminded that our choice meant these concepts would now play an active role in our family dynamic and at the very least we had better be prepared to start discussing them. I suppose I also felt as though we had made a decision, once again, without really making a decision.

I believe in God. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in heaven. I struggle with the concepts of organized religion. But I know the foundation that this education will provide my son will be strong and nurturing and meaningful. I believe it will reinforce important lessons that we teach at home about generosity, acceptance, love, and peace. All of that is important to me.
 
What was also important to me, and which is harder for me to admit, was that I was drawn to the idea of sending my children to a school where I believe the other families have made a commitment to the same values of ours. In all honestly, my real fear in sending my son to school comes less from the education and more from the influence of the other children. I understand this is real life, and that I can’t realistically protect him forever, but he’s about to be exposed to a whole new world, one in where I will have less control.
 
As his first day approaches (please summer slow down!) I’m thinking carefully about all of the new influence he’ll face and how to handle them at home. I don’t have any answers, but I’m hoping to find a confidence going forward so that I’m ready for all this.

Do you raise your children in faith? What does that mean for your family? How do you model it in your home? Do you discuss issues as a family or is it just about leading by example? Do you go to church? How do you inspire your children’s spirituality? Do you think that’s something we can do as parents? How do you handle outside influences in your home? How do you protect your children?

Postscriptum: For some reason I can’t leave a comment in my own comments section, so I’m adding a few additional thoughts here.

Thanks everyone for being so generous in sharing your thoughts and comments on this issue. I truly appreciate and welcome them. The discussion this post has sparked is quite interesting and varied, which I suppose is a testament to the complexity of the issue.

I’m not sure I did a very good job of expressing myself, but I did want to add that I in no way think that public school is inferior, only different. I don’t doubt that there are negative influences everywhere and my children will be exposed to different things no matter where I send them. I feel badly if I left the impression that I’m branding anyone with any brush. I, of course, don’t think that parents who send their kids to public school are “less moral” than everyone else, but I do think that parents who send their children to Catholic school mostly believe in God and the importance of spirituality in life.

What I’m hoping by choosing a faith-based education is that, though we don’t practice our religion in the traditional ways, the many Catholic morals and values that I do believe in will be reinforced in some way through their learning. It’s also about providing an opportunity for my children to receive some kind of spiritual guidance. I realize I’ll be doing this at home, but I think the more we reinforce it, the better.

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35 thoughts on “Kindergarten and big questions

  1. Lara says:

    It's hard isn't it? We decided to send Kiernan to French school this year and I keep getting waves of nerves at not really having thought the decision through properly. This isn't a faith issue, but it still feels weird as I'm throwing him into the deep end (he doesn't speak French yet).We did consider French Catholic but in the end, for us, we just felt too uncomfortable with the aspects of faith he would be learning. But we are less religious than you guys.Either way, I think that you can't control outside influences that much. As long as you provide good influences and a good flow of conversation at home about what is right and not as well as what they are experiencing when they aren't at home, that's kind of the best you can do without being OVER protective.

  2. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    What a hard decision to make. But it sounds like you have made the right one for your family. My family is similar to yours. Both my husband and I were raised Lutheran, we are members of the church I grew up in, my son was baptized there. Yet we are generally holiday-goers, which makes me sad. I keep hoping that as my son gets older, we will start attending church, so he can grow up in it, yet we've yet to make the commitment to going more often. That first step is always the hardest.

  3. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    What a hard decision to make. But it sounds like you have made the right one for your family. My family is similar to yours. Both my husband and I were raised Lutheran, we are members of the church I grew up in, my son was baptized there. Yet we are generally holiday-goers, which makes me sad. I keep hoping that as my son gets older, we will start attending church, so he can grow up in it, yet we've yet to make the commitment to going more often. That first step is always the hardest.

  4. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    What a hard decision to make. But it sounds like you have made the right one for your family. My family is similar to yours. Both my husband and I were raised Lutheran, we are members of the church I grew up in, my son was baptized there. Yet we are generally holiday-goers, which makes me sad. I keep hoping that as my son gets older, we will start attending church, so he can grow up in it, yet we've yet to make the commitment to going more often. That first step is always the hardest.

  5. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    What a hard decision to make. But it sounds like you have made the right one for your family. My family is similar to yours. Both my husband and I were raised Lutheran, we are members of the church I grew up in, my son was baptized there. Yet we are generally holiday-goers, which makes me sad. I keep hoping that as my son gets older, we will start attending church, so he can grow up in it, yet we've yet to make the commitment to going more often. That first step is always the hardest.

  6. Dawn says:

    Like you, my daughter will be starting school in the fall. While we didn't have the Catholic vs. Public debate, we did have the choice between the small rural school where I teach vs. the larger slightly more (and I stress *slightly* lol) urban school down the road. What secured our decision to send her to the small school where I teach was values & morals and the way other children who go to that school are raised. We want our daughter to be surrounded by wholesome children… where having the best brandname clothing doesn't necessarily matter and it's ok to be 11 and still believe in Santa Claus, for instance. You've inspired me, now, to write a new post for my blog…..THANK YOU!

  7. TKW says:

    We're not religious, but I do agree that it's important to include values in education (hopefully ones that are taught at home, too). Miss M. missed the cut-off for kindergarten by FOUR days, so I have another year before making that decision!

  8. Nicki says:

    This is hard for me to read. I so remember these decisions. My oldest needed a full day kindergarten. At the time, our local public school was only half day. The preschool he had attended since age two – full day since age two, hence the need for a full day kindergarten – had a licensed kindergarten but it was too open a classroom for him. I knew it would not be a good fit. I went shopping for full day programs and wound up at a Catholic school.Now, you may wonder why that was not the first thought, considering my ex and I were and still are practicing Catholics. He went to Catholic school through grade 8. I was not brought up Catholic but had plenty of friends who went to the Catholic school in the town where I grew up. I was not sold that my values would not be emulated in public school. On top of that, I thought the diversity of the public school was what was needed in education.I sent three of the six kids to Catholic schools (oldest K-2, twins K). It finally became a cost issue and, when #4 started kindergarten, all of my school-aged children went to public school.These decisions are hard. I cannot imagine wanting to make them again.

  9. ShannonL says:

    I have a different opinion on this one, Christine! Hubby is Catholic. He went through all the sacraments, went to church regularly with his parents, and was even an altar boy for several years. I am not religious at all. I wasn't baptized, I never went to church. I do believe in God (I think, or at least some Higher Power), but I DON'T believe in church. My kids were both baptized, but it was because it is a tradition that my husband wanted to continue (and my in-laws probably would have disowned us!). Since I don't have a religion, I didn't put up a fuss about them following his. They have gone to church a few times with their grandparents and with Hubby, too, but not a lot.Part of putting J in French immersion in an English school was to avoid the French Catholic school. I did not want him to be preached to about the 'catholic way'. I am happy with the English school's classes of Morals and Values. This shows a broader, more general way of teaching ethics.I don't really agree that the other parents (or children) in the Catholic school will necessarily have the same values as your own family. Honestly, I think a lot of people are hypocrites and will choose Catholic school just because it's the β€˜right thing to do’, but they don't follow any of the teachings. I think the same thing for a lot of church-goers. Not all, of course. But I know some personally who just go for the show, not for their faith.Families who are not Catholic still have strong values and morals, and just because they don't choose Catholic school doesn't mean that they don't. I want my kids to go to a multi-cultural, multi-religion school so that they can learn about other beliefs and not have just one way pushed down their throats. Even though they were baptized, I want them to feel free to learn other religions and even change to another one if they feel more connected to it.I am not saying that you made the wrong decision. Not at all. I just think differently from you, and I may be a little jaded. I'm also not as religious as you. I think if you have made the commitment to raise your kids Catholic, then there's nothing wrong with sending C to a Catholic school. It makes sense, really. Ok, I just wrote a novel in your comments section – sorry!

  10. Loukia says:

    We are Greek Orthodox, both our children were baptized in our Greek church, and although we don't often go to church, we pray, and we celebrate our faith. We put our son in catholic school, more for the values, like you said, than for the 'learning religion' part of it. We LOVE his school SO much, and his teacher is amazing. I think she had so much to do with him coming out of his shell this year. His school, his first year at this school, has been nothing but a positive experience. They learn about love and God but I don't feel like religion is over-done. It's beautiful, to learn about these things and to have nice stories to come home to tell mom and dad after the school day is done.

  11. Sarah(casm) says:

    We do not go to church or raise our son in any faith. he isn't baptized and holidays are celebrated in secular way and that it what I am comfortable with. As a result, I would never send him to Catholic school – particularly because it doesn't reflect my values and that there are a lot of things about Christianity and Catholicism that scare and concern me.That said, I think it's important for a school to reflect your family and your priorities. For us, the school we'll send our son to is a no-brainer. He'll go to the neighbourhood public school. I want him to go there because it reflects and epouses the values that are important to me – equity, diversity, and celebrating differences. Because, like you said, school is so significant, I need to send him somewhere I feel he will be accepted – where there will be kids and teachers who share his racial identity and to whom he can relate on that level.Ultimately, what matters is what works for you and your family.

  12. cjschlottman says:

    I am a woman of faith and I consider my spiritual side to be well developed. I do not go to church any more. Too much politics, just like everywhere else. I subscribe to the notion that going to church every sunday no more makes you a Christian than does standing in your garage make you a car. Having said that, chose a Catholic high school for my son because I believed he would receive more spiritual guidance and more encouragement to follow the right path toward adulthood. I was right.

  13. Krista (@kristahouse) says:

    I went to catholic school and had a positive experience and I felt that I did not have my religion jammed down my throat. I did go to church every week with my family but my parents taught us to use our common sense and realize that religion is like family, we are connected but we don't have to agree πŸ˜‰ I don't know if all catholic schools were like this but in highschool we learned all about different religion. It was eye openning and I loved it. It was not judgemental, just factual. Anyways. That was my own personal experience and I hope my boys have something similar.

  14. Crystal says:

    Like you, I don't think of myself as religious. I just think if everyone lived like Jesus, we'd be a much happier world. He hung with the beggars and prostitutes…modern-day hippy. But yeah, how do we prepare our kids for the world? I guess acceptance at home is the first step. And lots of prayer…

  15. Amber says:

    This comment may sound preachy and it is not intended to be. Since you asked, I am going to jot down my thoughts. Sorry if it seems unorganized! As an active Mormon, my kids and I attend church each Sunday as well as read the scriptures each night and have gospel lessons throughout the week. Some would call this indoctrination and I would agree wholeheartedly. Every parent indoctrinates their kid(s) with some kind of values, and I choose to do this with the values of my Faith. These values include the importance of family, honesty, chastity, and charity. I teach my kids about Jesus and His life. It wasn't just that he visited the sick and the beggars, he embodied compassion. He didn't excuse sinful behavior, but He, in His perfect knowledge, recognized that people could change. That is what I want my kids to remember. I want them to love and serve everyone, regardless of whether or not they agree with their life's decisions. And this is my reason for unabashedly teaching principles of the gospel daily and regularly attending church. I also feel that right now it is my responsibility to nurture their spirituality. Once they reach an age in which they can make their own decisions, they will need to choose whether or not they wish to remain a member of our church. The same idea goes with protection. My kids will, undoubtedly, make wrong choices. That is part of growing up. I hope, though, that my teaching–and my example–will help make these choices less dramatic. I do what I can now to prepare them for future adulthood. Whew! Remember, these are my thoughts! I just spilled them out onto your comments page.

  16. Jana @ Attitude Adjustment says:

    What a great post and great discussion, Christine! I know how you feel about sending your child to a place where you hope the parents have similar values and morals. After teaching at a private and public school (though high school), I can tell you that there is a HUGE difference between the sort of value system. I don't mean that students and teachers didn't have a value system at the public school, but it was very difficult for the school as an institution to instruct on and instill these values. When there is a basis for religion, it's much easier for the institution to stress behavior and treatment of others. After my one-year experience teaching at a public school (which I have to remind myself is not EVERY public school), I have decided that at least for middle school and high school, a values-based education is important to me. But I have too many issues with the Catholic church for it to be a Catholic-based education. (I don't want my sweet kid worrying about the devil and hell, and thinking he's sinful.) I have my heart set on a Quaker school. (I'm sure though, that there are some Catholic schools that handle these issues in a very progressive way.)

  17. Corinne says:

    "In all honestly, my real fear in sending my son to school comes less from the education and more from the influence of the other children."Oh lady… I get this. And I feel it deep down and I try to hide it, but that's the truth. I'm still trying to figure out what I believe in, so talking about it w/ the kids is tricky, at best. Hubby is following my lead, but isn't really a believer. We read from a gorgeous children's bible now and then… it's a work in progress that needs to take a few bounding steps very soon!

  18. rebecca @ altared spaces says:

    Well, very powerful thoughts and glad you shared them so freely. You've inspired a similar freedom in the comments section. Kudos to you!!What I'm glad to find is that I am not alone in making distinctions between belief and church attendance. I'm not the only mom to raise her eyebrows at books about God (as well as books with too profound an agenda on other topics…). Parenting IS a spiritual path. I'll be eager to hear how the year goes.

  19. fit for a kid says:

    Such an interesting and familiar discussion. Warning: Long comment follows.For us, the school choice part of the discussion is easy. We've chosen Montessori for Kindergarten and starting in grade one, public french immersion. I am loathe to write this for fear of the reactions, but I believe that religion of any kind has no place in public education. I understand the desire for religious teaching, but am not clear why publicly-funded Catholic school still exists in Ontario.The hard part in our family is how to discuss God and religion from two different points of view. Both have already come up with our 4.5 year old. My husband, an atheist, and I, a believer in traditions and values, are taking an open and honest approach to our beliefs, our traditions and cultural heritage, and respect and openess to the opinions and beliefs of others (like the grandparents). My husband grew up in a religiously confused household and he does not want that for our children. He would say that if you espouse an organized religion, you need to fully follow its tenants at home or you will confuse children and turn them off the practice (like he and his brother were).Like a previous poster mentioned, I'm pretty sure that public Catholic school has no less problems than public secular school. In fact, growing up, I recall a lot of problems and police incidents at the Catholic school down the street.Someone also mentioned private religious school. I think that is a whole other world, and in that case, I agree. A private religious school is able to stress religious principles, and families are more invested (literally) in the faith.

  20. amotherworld says:

    This is a tough one. I am Greek Orthodox, my husband is technically Catholic but he doesn't practice. I'm not a huge church-goer either; I'd rather call myself "spiritual". But I'm more "religious" than my husband, if that makes sense. We baptized our children Greek Orthodox. I take them to church often. We had the choice to send our boys to Catholic school but decided not to. Although the religions have similarities, they are quite different. If they were Catholic, I'd probably be more open to Catholic school.But that wasn't the main reason we chose public school – it's just steps away from our house.I think I also prefer that my kids have an education without a dominant religion in the mix. I respect all religions and and feel that it would benefit my kids to learn about other faiths and cultures at public school.And they can learn all about our Greek Orthodox faith at Sunday School…I'm sure they'll just LOVE that πŸ˜‰

  21. Maria says:

    This is a tough one. I am Greek Orthodox, my husband is technically Catholic but he doesn't practice. I'm not a huge church-goer either; I'd rather call myself "spiritual". But I'm more "religious" than my husband, if that makes sense. We baptized our children Greek Orthodox. I take them to church often. We had the choice to send our boys to Catholic school but decided not to. Although the religions have similarities, they are quite different. If they were Catholic, I'd probably be more open to Catholic school.But that wasn't the main reason we chose public school – it's just steps away from our house.I think I also prefer that my kids have an education without a dominant religion in the mix. I respect all religions and and feel that it would benefit my kids to learn about other faiths and cultures at public school.And they can learn all about our Greek Orthodox faith at Sunday School…I'm sure they'll just LOVE that πŸ˜‰

  22. Justine says:

    Christine, we aren't religious so Little Miss will not be attending a denominational school. Besides, the quality of education is more important to me than the values to which the school adheres. Like you, I'm more concerned about the social and societal influences that my daughter will encounter in school and the loss of ours as her peers figure more prominently in her life.And that is why I feel it's especially important to instill the values that works for our family very early on in life and hope that it will carry her through her years in school.

  23. Kate says:

    My first is starting kindergarten in the fall too. Choosing a school felt like such a terrifying proposition. In this choice, I am picking the people she will meet, the friends she will carry with her, the teachers who will foster her (or not). And yet, you can only tour the school, not meet all the parents and students in the class to come. Peers matter. A lot. The culture of a school matters. How your child will fit with the school matters. And then there are the considerations of cost and convenience. In seven short weeks, it all starts for my girl. And I am scared. Although I'm more shocked that she now has her first loose tooth.

  24. andrea from the fishbowl says:

    Oh, this is a tough one. But the discussion so far has been very interesting!I would like to point out that my kids are 11 and 9 now and we did the kinder thing some time ago and I think I can reflect upon it objectively now. :)In terms of my own religion I lean towards something more spiritual, but nothing religious in the true sense of the word. My husband believes in science.We never considered Catholic school. There's no way my husband would have it, and to tell you the truth, I wouldn't have gone that route either as I am not a fan of organized religion.One of my children is in middle french immersion in a public school. It is an incredible program – very diverse – and I'm very glad we went that route over early immersion. The other is in public school. What's important to me is that the kids are educated well, have good teachers, and are prepared for life. This means dealing with good kids and bad kids, and everything that school has to offer. You wrote: "What was also important to me, and which is harder for me to admit, was that I was drawn to the idea of sending my children to a school where I believe the other families have made a commitment to the same values of ours."I was very surprised to read this. Do people really think that the families who send their kids to catholic school are better/more moral that the rest of us? The hard truth is that there are bullies everywhere, "bad" and neglectful and troubled families everywhere – no matter religious banner they march under. When I was growing up the Catholic school girls where just as disruptive (and sometimes even worse) than the rest of us. I remember hearing rumours of pregnant girls getting kicked out of school. I remember thinking, wow, how Christian is THAT.But then again, we are talking about kindergarten here, right? :)You will find kids you don't like (and who are a bad influence) everywhere. You can't protect your kids. In fact, I think that protecting them too much is a mistake we make… because we're not helping them to prepare for the realities of adult life.In terms of ensuring your kids have a values-based education, I think you're selling the public school teachers short. They have values too, ones that may not be based in any kind of religion but do hold to the major tenants of love and kindness and respect for your neighbour. I also think that parents need to supplement at home – no matter what the topic. Parents need to spend time at home helping their kids learn about morals, values, sex ed., about different religions and cultures, about nature and the environment and times tables. :)Anyway, I hope you don't consider this novel of a comment to be an attack on your values. I respect your choices and I think this has been a great discussion so far.

  25. Christine says:

    Thanks very much to everyone for these thoughts and comments. I truly appreciate and welcome them. The discussion is quite interesting, diverse and varied, which I suppose is a testament to the complexity of the issue. I'm not sure I did a very good job of expressing myself, but I did want to reply to let you know that I in no way think that public school is inferior, only different. Without question, I think there are negative influences everywhere and my children will be exposed to different things no matter where I send them. I feel badly if I left the impression that I'm branding anyone with any brush. I of course don't think that parents who send their kids to public school are less moral than everyone else, but I do think that parents who send their children to Catholic school mostly believe in God and the importance of spirituality in life. What I'm hoping in choosing a faith-based education for my children is that, though we don't practice our religion in the traditional ways, the many Catholic morals and values that I do believe in will be reinforced in some way through their education. It's also about providing an opportunity for my children to receive some kind of spiritual guidance. I realize I'll be doingthis at home, but I think the more we reinforce it, the better.

  26. Shannon says:

    I have worked in both school boards – the Catholic and the "Public" board. Here in Ottawa, both boards are publicly funded, so calling one board public seems odd, but everyone does it. In my personal experience, I would say it is a myth that there is more focus on values in the Catholic system. The public board also teaches generosity, acceptance, love, peace, and values of all kinds.What you will find in the Catholic system is a weekly teaching of religion – it is not huge but it is there. The students will study their sacraments there and will do first communion, reconciliation, and confirmation. They will discuss Easter and Christmas with a more Christian focus than in the other board, and these holidays will celebrate the life of Jesus.In the Catholic board there are MANY, MANY students who are not Catholic. To attend Catholic school here you only need one parent to produce a Catholic baptismal certificate, so the children and the other spouse do not have to be Catholic. MANY children in the Catholic schools opt out of religion classes and do not do their sacraments. The majority of students in many of the Catholic schools that I am familiar with do not go to church.My children do happen to go to Catholic School (and I am currently employed and teach in the public board), mostly b/c my very Irish husband won that battle. We do go to church, and I have almost never seen another student from my children's classes in our parish. I'm not saying any of this is right or wrong, and my opinion on this topic is evolving, so I am simply stating the facts as a teacher and a parent. It is also a myth that one board has more money than the other, proportionately they receive the same amount of funding. Does the public board have more resources? In some ways, yes, b/c it is significantly larger.I agree with the commenter who suggested that religion does not have a place in public education. But for now, this is the system that exists here, and we need to do whatever we can to make the best decisions for our children. I think I can say in all confidence that both school boards offer an excellent level of education, with a focus on developing core value systems.

  27. Christine says:

    Thanks everyone for being so generous in sharing your thoughts and comments here. I truly appreciate and welcome them. The discussion that I've sparked is quite interesting, diverse and varied, which I suppose is a testament to the complexity of the issue. I'm not sure I did a very good job of expressing myself, but I did want to reply to let you know that I in no way think that public school is inferior, only different. Without question, I think there are negative influences everywhere and my children will be exposed to different things no matter where I send them. I feel badly if I left the impression that I'm branding anyone with any brush. I of course don't think that parents who send their kids to public school are "less moral" than everyone else, but I do think that parents who send their children to Catholic school mostly believe in God and the importance of spirituality in life. What I'm hoping in choosing a faith-based education for my children is that, though we don't practice our religion in the traditional ways, the many Catholic morals and values that I do believe in will be reinforced in some way through their education. It's also about providing an opportunity for my children to receive some kind of spiritual guidance. I realize I'll be doingthis at home, but I think the more we reinforce it, the better.

  28. Jill says:

    Christine, Thanks for sharing your struggle. As a pastor of a protestant Christian church, I guess we'd have to say I am religious. πŸ™‚ However, trust me when I say that I, too, struggle with organized religion. Yet, even with my struggle, I find for myself and my family we do better struggling from within than without. I applaud your process and your desire to make the right decision for your family. I also applaud the fact that you are choosing to offer your child the gifts of the Catholic church even knowing that it means there will be some challenging conversations in the places where you struggle with the church. I am a person who thinks it is good to expose our children (within the realm of what is safe) to even things that we don't wholeheartedly embrace. I believe we are responsible for helping them learn to gain from many places and discern what is good to gain and what is good to set aside. I think you are doing this. Meanwhile, I also think that your children could do well in many places and with a mother who is so thoughtful about their lives, will.

  29. becca says:

    Oh my goodness! What an amazing discussion you sparked here Christine! I don't have much to add since I never considered sending my kids to a religious school. i want them to experience and be involved with all walks of life. All economic statuses, all religions, all races. This is why we struggle a bit with the choice between public and private or moving from the town we live in for a "better" school district. I live in a city. It's VERY diverse. And the diversity is what I believe is the BEST education. i grew up in a predominantly white Catholic town. i was the only Jewish kid in my class. Although my public school was fantastic, my education on diversity was nonexistent and not good preparation for "life". Are there problems with my town's school system? Yes. But I am certain they will grow up with an understanding that there are varied beliefs in the world. That not everyone is just like them. That not everyone can afford what they can or came from the background they did. My feeling is that what's most important as OUR (as parents) involvement in our kids education… not whether it's faith based, public, or private. What we teach them about what they're experiencing wherever they are and that we welcome them home each day, ready to support them, and help them understand their days that most likely will be filled with questions.OK, maybe I did have a lot to add. Great post!

  30. Maureen@IslandRoar says:

    You should be applauded for even thinking about these issues. And kindergarten?? How exciting is THAT!! My youngest is 16 but the most trauma I experienced along these lines was when my oldest, now 22, was starting 1st grade. The thought that he would spend so many waking hours under someone else's influence was daunting. My kids have been to CCD thru confirmation and only the youngest goes to church with me when I go. But I know they've been influenced by their exposure and you're right to think about what you want your son exposed to.The fact that you are means he's gonna be one rocking great man!

  31. Karen says:

    This is a decision my husband and I have talked about since before we even started to try to have a child. And here we are with a two-year-old and we haven't figured out the final answer yet. I was raised in an active, practicing Christian (Protestant) home. My husband doesn't really believe in God or organized religion, but he doesn't have any problem with our son/future children learning about God.We've talked about sending our kids to Catholic school (if we could get them in, since neither of us are Catholic) or a private school, but odds are we will end up sending them to public school. Sometimes I think I'd rather even home school them, but then I remember that I got a very good education in public schools and I think I'm going to be okay with that for my child(ren).I love the idea of getting to incorporate your values and beliefs into school. Not that it should take precedence over learning all the other subjects, but being in an environment where rules are based on values and beliefs rather than society's dictates of what's right and wrong (which seem to shift as the times change) is certainly appealing. If I was Catholic, I'd probably go the same route.

  32. Amber says:

    I'm late to the party. However, Catholic school was never a consideration for us, or any religious school for that matter. My parents were new age hippies, and I never attended church nor was I baptized as a child. Today, I am a practicing Unitarian, and there's no such thing as a Unitarian school. Plus, I don't want to pay for private school, and here in BC all religious schools (including Catholic ones) are private and cost thousands of dollars a year to attend.Having said that, if you are Catholic, even nominally, and you like what a Catholic education offers, then you should run with it. This is your child and no one else's. You get to make the decision, and you have to make the best one you can.

  33. Hyacynth says:

    I've been sitting on this post for a few days. I've been chewing it over, mulling it. And I'm glad I did. Because this morning, I had a chat with friends about beliefs. And I thought you might find parts of it interesting. We all choose to believe something. We all choose to believe in something that guides us. When we believe in Christ and seek His word, the Bible dictates our moral compass. So I totally get why you and your hubby have opted to send your little guy to Catholic school — indeed, the Catholic schooling will impress upon him the morals and values you two hold onto. I know you and your hubby will be teaching him the same thing at home. So in that sense, your little one will hear a consistent message about morals and values. Though I wonder about the belief part. I wonder how a Catholic education will affect his beliefs. {I wonder the same about how a private evangelical education would affect my boys, too.} The one reason why I hesitate about sending my kids to a religiously affiliated school is because I don't want them to equate Christ with religion. I want them to equate Christ with relationship. I don't want a private education to impart legalistic ways onto my little ones' hearts making God out to be a Big Brother of sorts instead of their Heavenly Father. So, I'm still pondering this question over here of how we'll educate our children. Perhaps the right Christian school wouldn't jade our boys into thinking in terms of religion rather than relationship. Just kind of musing aloud over here. I wonder what your thoughts are on this?

  34. IASoupMama says:

    This is such an interesting discussion!I attended a Catholic elementary school, though I was not and am not Catholic. My parents liked the small class size and did not like the public school that I had been attending.As someone who witnesses religious education in a faith that was not my own, I had a very, very different viewpoint on it than my classmates did. So different, that as they were accepting their first communion, I was rejecting faith altogether and choosing Atheism. Yes, I was seven. No, I am not making this up.That being said, I think that your choice sounds perfect for your family. My son starts Kindergarten August 19th and I, too, am afraid of what his peers will teach him. I hope that it is not xenophobia, prejudice, or closed-mindedness. I hope they do not teach him hate and disrespect. I hope that they do not show him the jaded side of life too early. But I think that the best way to repel that negativity is to teach him positivity, so I do.

  35. Mae says:

    Wow! Quite the discussion here and I know this is late but here's my input. I was raised Catholic but am not a big fan of the church or their views. My husband was not raised in any particular religion but he did go to Catholic school and did not have good memories. We currently have a 3-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl. To me, this seems like 2 issues: faith and then education.As far as faith, my husband and I have become Unitarian Univeralist in the last couple years. We embrace this faith fully because it believes in people finding what is true for them, the quest for knowledge, encouraging spiritual growth, building community and the democratic process (to name a few). I love that my children are not given an answer right away but rather tools to help them in their journey. We go to church every Sunday and I love having my children play with other children who's parents believe the same thing. I love that this community is intergenerational and that we have an active youth group.On the education side, while we cannot protect them completely, I don't think there's anything wrong in trying our best to give them a stable environment to get good grounding. For this reason alone, my husband and I decided to send them to private school. Though our kids are still in the early childhood education program, we plan to send them there until 8th grade. I think that public schools can be wonderful and that with parental involvement, children can get a great education. But we chose a private school because of it's no bully tolerance, the smaller student:teacher ratio, and we liked it's varied curriculum. Your gut and heart will tell you if you made the right choice. Good luck with kindergarten! :-)P.S. Sorry for the long post.

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