How did they grow up so fast? For those of us with Year 5 children the open days have started. For those of us with Year 6 children the application deadline is looming.
It can feel very overwhelming when faced with this choice and with the chat amongst other parents. What to choose? Church school, grammar school, local comp, catholic school, best results, co-ed, single sex, better facilities, with their mates? How do you decide? Church route, exam tutoring, music test, scholarship? Maybe just re-train as a teacher?!
The first thing we do is take a breath, take a step back and remember; choice is luxury, you have somewhere to send your children for an education – many round the world don’t. Here in the West, education has become an obsession. For many of us, the education of our children is an idol and we are usually blind to our cultural idols. Education is good for our children, as we discussed here, but it cannot save them. Going to the ‘right’ school will not lead to life to the full. Going to the ‘wrong’ school will not condemn them. Our children’s future does not depend on this choice, their future depends on Christ. So, we sit down with our child to say – “through this process we are going to remember how great it is that God is sovereign, and he totally has us! Not just in this but in every big change in life that might freak us out. Let’s remember that Jesus understands us, and right now he stands for us in the very throne room of God talking into his father’s ear for us – telling him what we need – for our good. Jesus understands what we feel, every struggle and (even better) what we need to help us.” As an old hymn reminds us “what a friend we have in Jesus … what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”
The next thing we do is use the hearts, minds and strength God has given us. We visit the schools, we read the forms, we consider how God has made our child, remembering that we actually are the experts on them. We reflect on the things they love, the gifts God has given them, their personality and the kind of environment that will help them thrive. Then, we tick the boxes, fill in the forms, plough through the paperwork, pray and walk away leaving the outcome with our Heavenly Father. This is what faith looks like – modelled by us to our children – in everyday life. What we believe about our Heavenly Father’s love for us makes a difference here; we can be calm and know peace. We can keep our perspective because their amazing educational opportunities are not our first priority for our kids – but trusting Jesus is.
And for those of taking entrance exams – keep an eternal perspective. Pray with your child asking Jesus to help them keep calm and give it their best shot. But don’t miss the opportunity to revel in the glorious truth that our entrance examination to heaven – one we would all epically fail – has an A1, 100% pass mark, which Jesus nailed for us. As we wait to hear if we got the school we wanted, how amazing to know that our place in heaven is secure; we don’t have to wait for the email to arrive, the place to be offered – we are totally in!
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3 (NIV).