The Christian Education Alternative

Simply put, a Christian education is provided at a school that is run by a church or other religious organization that teaches Christian principles. However, just as there are many denominations of Christianity, there are also many types of Christian education. Of course each denomination of Christianity has its own schools. Beyond that, however, parents need to decide whether they want their children to have a full time K-8 Christian education and whether they want their children to go on to attend a Christian high school or a Christian college. If they choice to send their child to public school or to a non religious private school they must then decide whether they want to enroll the child in Sunday school or supplemental religious education classes.

Simply put, a Christian education is provided at a school that is run by a church or other religious organization that teaches Christian principles. However, just as there are many denominations of Christianity, there are also many types of Christian education. Of course each denomination of Christianity has its own schools. Beyond that, however, parents need to decide whether they want their children to have a full time K-8 Christian education and whether they want their children to go on to attend a Christian high school or a Christian college. If they choice to send their child to public school or to a non religious private school they must then decide whether they want to enroll the child in Sunday school or supplemental religious education classes.

Parochial Schools

Parochial schools are the form of private Christian education day schools that are run by the Catholic Church. Parochial schools are one of the most popular types of private education in the United States. Typically, they provide a K-8 Christian education at the church or on parish grounds. Students who are interested in a Christian high school often go on to a school that is associated with the diocese rather than a specific parish. Some Christian colleges also offer high school programs.

Parochial schools became popular in the United States during the first half of the 1800s. Typically, a private Christian education allows students to learn in smaller classes than the public school. The teachers and the students are usually connected to the parish or church where the school is housed and that creates a strong sense of community.

Protestant Schools

Different protestant denominations also run private Christian schools. Protestant schools typically run K-6, K-8, K-12 or 9-12 grade level programs. As with parochial schools they may be affiliated with a particular church. However, some are simply based on a specific denomination and enroll students from several different churches.

K-8 Christian Education Curriculum

Many Christian schools closely follow the local public school district’s curriculum with a few notable exceptions. First, some schools do not teach evolution and instead solely teach creationism. Second, some novels and other works of fiction may be taken out of the curriculum and placed with those that are viewed as more suitable. Finally, and most fundamentally, religious education is added to the curriculum. Public schools are not permitted to teach religion.

Christian College

Whether or not a child attends a Christian school during his K-12 education, some people choose to complete their college level work at a Christian college. There are many Christian colleges in the United States. Some are more religious than others. The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities limit membership in their organization to schools that are intentionally Christ centered and who only employ Christians as full time professors and administrators. Other schools, including the prominent Jesuit schools of Georgetown University and Boston College, do not have these types of requirements for their educational philosophy, faculty or administrators.

Sunday School

Many Christian parents who decide against sending their child to a full day Christian school still want their child to receive a Christian education. These parents typically enroll their children in weekly religious education classes run by their Church or parish. Many Protestants refer to this type of education as Sunday School because the classes tend to meet on Sundays before, during or after regular worship services. Many Catholics refer to this type of education as Catechism which means a summary of doctrine.

Some parents struggle with the decision about whether to send their child to a private Christian school. They worry that they are sheltering their child or depriving the child of some of the benefits of state run schools. They worry that their child will not be exposed to diverse groups of children and some worry about the cost of tuition. Yet, for many families Christian education is an important and valued alternative to a public school system which is seen as increasingly hostile to religion. Many Christian families are concerned about sending their children away every day to study in place that makes no mention of God and for the most part pretends that religion does not exist. For these families, a Christian education is a valuable alternative.

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