98%. Yes, we are talking about education this week and no, that is not a test score.
You see, very early in this journey called motherhood, I started researching the different educational options available to us and discovered that the public school system here boasted of a literacy rate of a whopping 98%. As amazed as I was at that statistic and although my husband grew up in the public schools here, I still had my hesitations. Because the syllabus is based on the system inherited by their colonial roots, it was super unfamiliar and felt intimidating as a mother on this foreign soil. In addition, I knew no one in the system itself, nor was I acquainted with any parents.
Then there were the cultural differences and the administering of the Secondary School Entrance Examination, which I adamantly disagreed with. The unfamiliar of it all admittedly birthed some element of fear and I felt completely unequipped for the years of learning that would lie ahead should the Lord keep us here.
But it wasn’t just the unknowns of the public school system. I’ll admit some of that fear was derived from my own misconceptions accompanied by a dose of self-guilt. It almost felt intrinsic as an overseas worker that I HAD to home-school my children. I mean, every single overseas worker or expat that I knew homeschooled their kids with great results. And why wouldn’t I want to? Not only would it give me the gift of more time molding my children, but I could also choose a Christian-based curriculum that would help teach them in the way that they should go. However, homeschooling for me was even more unfamiliar territory than public school life and the question begged to be answered, “What if I did it all wrong?”
I pondered on that question. I pondered on the fact that I was working a secular job to help subsidize our household because of the high cost of living here, all the while partnering with my husband in the ministry. So where would I get the time to do homeschooling effectively? And just so no stone was left unturned, we checked out private schools as well, but the cost of tuition alone, along with uniforms and extracurricular activities, would prove very difficult.
Despite all this information being a lot to process, this is what my husband and I knew. We knew we wanted our children’s education to reinforce our Christian values. We knew we wanted our children to be engaged with their peers and we knew we wanted them to have the opportunity to participate in team sports. So, having explored all the options and asked all the questions, we used the one thing we were equipped with – prayer.
We persistently prayed, asking God to steer us towards the choice that would best tend to our children’s minds as it pertained to their education. In His faithfulness, God directed our path in immeasurable ways – and He continues to.
When he was 4, I walked my very introverted son into his classroom at his new public primary school. I don’t know whose palms were sweatier, but I can assure you, Momma had more tears in her eyes. That day marked a new journey for us both. For him, it would be the discovery of new friends, the integration into this culture, and the introduction to a passion for cricket. For me, it would be the discovery of small glimpses into God’s good plans, the integration into a system I was reluctant to even try, and the introduction of the Bible actually being taught in the public school setting.
Our daughter would follow 2½ years later. But she was a lot braver, pretty much commanding the morning with that effervescent smile of hers. I watched her walk in, with a backpack bigger than her, already making new friends. So I went and sat in my car, windows rolled down, and before driving off to work, I heard it – the voice of nearly 500 children singing in unison, “I am a promise, I am a possibility…” At that moment, I realized that God was peeling back those layers of unfamiliar little by little, tending this Momma’s mind with the peace only He can give.
The decision to send them to that particular primary school, I believe, was God-ordained. The foundational teaching and coaching they received there richly blessed my children in indescribable ways – ways I could not have ever orchestrated as their mother. At the age of 11, they both sat the Secondary School Entrance Exam, doing exceptionally well. Although their marks placed them at separate public secondary schools, I am confident by their growth that they are exactly where God intends for them to be.
I’m still learning to navigate through public school life here as a parent (and COVID is not helping!!!). The next hurdle is preparing our son for upcoming CXC examinations and while I have no personal experience or clue as to what exactly these exams entail, I don’t fear the feeling of inadequacy any longer. God has proven over and over again that He is FOR my children. And in His consistent nature, whether in a public, private or home school setting, you can trust that He is FOR yours too.
How has God used the educational path chosen for your children to stretch your faith as a parent and build your trust in His good plans for their lives?