What Strength Do You Want Your Child's Religious Education To Be?

Many parents search for an answer to the question "How do I provide the kind of religious education I want for my child?" Religious education is a very personal, subjective matter. When it comes to religious education one size most definitely does not fit all. Each of us has a very clear idea of what we expect. Much of our thinking is driven by the obvious reality that religious education is not an option in our public schools. Religion and Public Schools from the Center for Public Education explains the legal reasons why. So, with this requirement in mind let's explore your options.  

Three Categories of Religious Schools

I have been in your shoes when it comes to deciding what kind of religious education our children should have. We are Episcopalians so we wanted schools which embraced that denomination's teachings. Kent School fit the bill for eldest daughter. Youngest daughter attended Westminster School which again fit our needs at the time. Our sons attended St. Anne's School in Nassau, Bahamas when we lived there. That was an Anglican school, Anglican being the British version of the Episcopal church. 

To make things a little easier for you I have divided religious schools into three broad categories or strengths if you will: light, medium and strong. Essentially all I am doing is categorizing the intensity of the religious instruction and observances which schools in each category offer. Obviously there will be some overlap because private schools are intrinsically unique. That's just

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Myths, urban legends and just plain misinformation abound concerning private schools. That doesn't help parents who are thinking about sending their children to private school. So, let's shed some light on the facts you may not have known about private schools.

1. Private schools existed before public schools.

That's right! Back in colonial times education varied from colony to colony. The common thread that I was able to find is that education was stratified along class lines. Children from poor families were taught skills so that they could do a manual job and survive. Children from the upper classes received a basic education in literature, mathematics and religion. If their families could afford it, the boys might be sent off to boarding school in England. This stratification of education persisted until the late 19th century.

In those times upper class girls were given enough education to be able to run a household. But amazingly enough colonial families did have day care. They could leave their children at Dame schools, so called because a dame or lady would teach their children the basics such as their letters and some prayers while she tended to her household chores.

2. Private schools are set up in three main ways.

Many parents assume that all private schools are set up in the same way. There are a great many similarities and structures in common across the three principal ways most private schools are set up. And there are differences too. The

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A - Applying to private school

Applying to most private schools has become infinitely easier in the last 10-15 years. That's because you can apply online to most schools. When school's don't have online applications, they usually have all the application forms you need online so you can download them easily.

B - Be aware that diversity is an important part of private schools in the 21st century.

Yes, back in the 1950's and 1960's you might have been able to say that private schools were elitist. At least that was the perception the general public had of private schools. This perception, of course, was reinforced by the media. In the 21st century private schools have made diversity and tolerance the center of their mission and philosophy as most schools seek to prepare their students for life and work in a global community.

C - Competitive schools

Many parents have grand ideas about which private schools they want their children to attend. As a result they focus on the top 10 schools which receive 10 times as many applicants as they have places for. Having one very competitive school on your short list is a smart move when you also have two relatively safe schools on that list as well. Just as with investing, t makes no sense to put all your eggs in one basket.

D - Discipline is part of the deal.

Most private schools have discipline codes. These are carefully explained to every student at the beginning of the school year.

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This is a tough question for many of us teachers to deal with. Why? Because many of us are convinced that we don't need to update our skill-set now that we have found our dream teaching position in a wonderful school. We are set, right? Not exactly. As we all know things can change in a flash. Against this backdrop let's you and I explore your skill-set and offer some suggestions as to how to do some necessary upgrades.

Why do you need to upgrade your skill-set?

As I pointed out in the opening paragraph, your circumstances can change in a flash. The most common reason for suddenly needing a new teaching position is a major change your family circumstances. A member of your family who lives in another state has an accident or becomes seriously ill requiring your presence in the area. While you could take Family Medical Leave, it has become obvious to you that the best solution is for you to move closer to your family member so that you can supervise his care and generally be there for him. That means you will need to look for a new teaching job.

The important thing to understand is that life can deal some unexpected cards. You thought you were set. Suddenly you are not. That is the reason why you must upgrade your skill-set.

Does your skill-set need updating?

Assess your skill-set critically. When did you earn your degree? When did you last attend a regional or national conference in your

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You have started the process of choosing a private school for your child. You have done a bit of reading about the reasons for sending your child to a private school. You have listened to the suggestions and recommendations of family and friends. You have explored dozens of school web sites. None of this is particularly difficult to do. It just takes a lot of time, right? Not exactly. Here are five reasons why you might be looking at the wrong schools.

1. They don't offer the kind of curriculum you are looking for.

You need to think carefully about what is taught and how it is taught in each school. And you need to do this important bit of thinking well before you creating a short list of schools for you to visit. The school's curriculum, how it is taught and the quality of the faculty should be at the top of your check list. That's how important an issue this is as you go about choosing the right school for your child. Listen to the Head of the Math Department at Nichols School in Buffalo, New York explain the school's philosophy about teaching math specifically and teaching in general.

What makes this part of the process a bit daunting is that private schools are unique. They won't all offer the same courses and they most certainly will not approach teaching them the same way. By now you have a pretty good idea of

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