Who is Responsible for a Child’s Education?

The signs are everywhere: Back to school sales.  Heavier traffic.  New sneakers.  Another school year is upon us all.

Those teachers better get busy!

These days, significant attention is being placed on the responsibility of teachers in the classroom.  Many are suggesting that a teacher’s compensation should be tied to the classes’ performance on annual standardized tests.  Horror stories are told about lazy men and women who stand before classes unprepared and apathetic.  The party line often seems to be that the primary responsibility for a child’s education rests on the shoulder of the teacher in the classroom.

Is such thinking truly biblical?  While we would all agree that teachers have a crucial role to play in the process, God’s Word would suggest that there are other entities that have a much higher level of responsibility in the training and development of our your people.

The crucial role of parents

God created the home to be the primary training ground for a child’s education (Deut. 6:6-7).  Sure, a parent can delegate certain aspects of that duty to others but not in a way that shifts the focus off the job he/she is instructed to fulfill in Scripture.  Here are several steps a parent can take to help children be prepared to have a great school year.

  1. Pray with your children each morning and encourage them to commit themselves to faithfully living to please Jesus that day.  Encourage each person in the family to bask in the blessings of knowing Christ and to look forward to joyfully serving Him throughout the school day.  Teach you children to thank God for their school, their administrators and teacher, and the other students.
  2. Instruct your children that they are expected to honor and obey their teacher that day.  Never speak disresepectfuly about their teachers in the presence of your children.  If you or your spouse have a problem with a particular teacher, communicate biblically with the person and seek a resolution to the problem.  Explain to your children that if they create a problem at school by being rude, lazy, disrepectful, or disobedient, they will be facing a bigger problem when they arrive back home.
  3. Be sure that you have done your job to prepare your children for the school day.  This would include reviewing their homework the night before and expecting them to pack their book bag, lay out their clothes, and straigthen their room in preparation for pleasing God the next day.  Be sure that they have the right amount of rest, exercise, and healthy nutrition.  A teacher should never be expected to instruct children who are unprepared, improperly rested, unhealthy, and unspiritual.
  4. Review each school day with the goal of helping your children think biblicaly about their choices.  Commend them for the right decisions they made and look for ways to help them understand that such choices honor their Savior.  Pause to thank God when your son or daughter did well on a test or assignment.  Help them learn to live each moment coram Deo, before the face of God.

The church’s role

Sometimes Christians are among the first to criticize their local schools and educators.  But let’s remember that judgment begins at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).  Churches have the responsibility and privilege of assiting parents in their all-important task.  The beginning of the school year can motivate us to redouble our efforts to fulfill our God-given task.

  1. Model a love for learning before their eyes.  Children in our worship services should see adults with their Bibles open, notebooks on their laps and pens in their hands expecting to learn truth from God’s Word Sunday after Sunday.  Our Lord referred to it as a hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6).
  2. Look for ways to reach your friends and neighbors with the good news of Jesus Christ.  Imagine the impact of a community-wide revival on all the schools in our town.  We should not complain about teachers who are apathetic about their educational task if we are apathetic about our evangelistic one.
  3. Serve in one of Faith’s children or youth ministries.  I am very thankful for the men and women who give time week and in and week out to teach our kids our kids truth from God’s Word.  Reinforcing what the child is already learning at home prepares our kids to do well when they head off to school.

Spend time in front of the mirror

It is always easy to talk about everyone else’s responsibility in the equation.  Let’s be sure as parents, and as a church, that we use this opportunity of a new school year to recommit ourselves to focusing primarily on what we can do to help our young people have a great year.  The Lord will be pleased, and the teachers will rejoice.

Steve Viars
Dr. Viars has served as a pastor and counselor at Faith since 1987. He is an author, national speaker, and Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Biblical Counseling Coalition.