- - Thursday, September 28, 2023

School is in full swing, but for the 84% of Christian parents in America sending their children to a public school, an air of uncertainty lingers about their physical and spiritual safety. A reader recently shared:

My children are currently in the public school system. Homeschooling isn’t currently financially viable for my family. How can I best protect my child from harmful cultural elements while still keeping them in the public system?

Subscribe to have The Washington Times’ Higher Ground delivered to your inbox every Sunday.

In an age where we have so many protections afforded to our children – helmets when riding a bike, crossing guards for a busy street – our first thought when faced with fear or danger is easily one of protection. We want to keep our kids away from ideologies that question the faith we are so diligently trying to nurture in them.

But what if instead of asking how we can protect our children, we shift the paradigm and ask how we can prepare our children?

I heard a Navy Seal once say: “Always play offense, prepare before you get there.” The best protection from harmful cultural elements for your children while in the public school system is preparation.

But, how do parents do that? I want to suggest four critical steps parents of all school-aged children must take to prepare their children for the road ahead regardless of their schooling choice.

Special Event: Higher Ground presents a conversation with Washington Times columnist Dr. Everett Piper and host of the Higher Ground Podcast Billy Hallowell. 

First, fill them with God’s Truth. Harmful cultural elements are rooted in untruth, you must anchor your kids with the truth found in the Word of God. Decide today that you will be the primary discipler of your children. Read the Bible with them regularly. Speak God’s truth into their lives daily. Refer to my three phrases to encourage and embolden your kids before school for some helpful tips to put this idea into action. Find a faith community that will enrich their lives with Bible-focused teaching with kids their age. If possible, surround them with other trusted adult mentors who will point them to God’s truth.

Whether the topic is evolution theory, gender issues, or the value of life itself, we must discuss what God says about these issues and the corresponding untruth they might be taught as often as possible before our children encounter it. Then, they will be able to recognize it, flag it, and respond well. This training and the next step are the most loving and protective things we can do as parents.

Second, provide safe places where children can share and ask questions to process the teaching and conflicting worldviews they have been taught. While it is critical to educate them before they get there, we must create open communication and intentional space where they can ask or tell you anything. It may be discussing the tension they feel being in the spiritual minority, the confusion of being taught an opposing worldview, or even the difficulty of just being different. Parents must provide a safe place to land with their questions. Go ahead and practice your “I’m not surprised face,” because responding with anger, even righteous anger, or fear is not going to help prepare them for the road ahead. It may shut down communication in the future. Instead, learn to ask good questions, be a safe place to share, and seek God’s wisdom together.

Third, stand behind them. Not all situations will need action by parents, but keep in mind our parental rights and students’ religious rights are protected by the Constitution and we can speak up. Our kids need to know we have their back, especially when it comes to matters of their faith in a secular school system. Most times parents will be able to coach their children, but in some cases, parents need to be willing to have hard conversations with those in authority. I like to call those positive confrontations. But in order to have these we must know our student’s rights.

Consider that God may be calling you to get involved in that school system.  Whether it is being a part of the parent-teacher association or running for school board, some of us must step forward to be light in the school system and help guard our kids against harmful agendas and untruths.

Finally, cover your children and schools in prayer. Prayer is undoubtedly one of the most important contributions you can make in the life of your child and the public school system. Missionary Hudson Taylor wrote, “When we work, we work. When we pray, God works.” The infinite power and protection our children and schools need lies solely in the hand of God. Only He can perfectly protect and guide them. Likewise, only He can bring about the revival and spiritual awakening that we long for in our day. Prayer is not passive; it is essential.

As you and your children journey through another school year, do so with courage and joy. The struggle doesn’t need to be defeating or fear-inducing. To the contrary, this journey through public school may be the catalyst for a life-long relationship of trust between you and your child, and the training ground for a matured and tested life-long faith in God.

Kori Pennypacker is the CEO of Bible2School, where she oversees the mission and speaks to businesses, churches, and community leaders on the topic of the importance of spiritual training for children in our communities nationwide. She has over 20 years of experience in children’s ministry and leadership.

Bible2School equips communities across the nation to provide free elective Bible classes to elementary school children DURING their public school day. Their vision is that every public school in the nation would have a dynamic Bible program taught during their school day as allowed by national released time court rulings.

Copyright © 2024 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide