Fall is always an exciting time for families with children in school. Kids see their friends again, teachers enjoy the change from empty classrooms to the voices of children and the camaraderie of colleagues. Parents, who have been trying to keep their young ones busy all summer, may even experience some relief as school again relieves them of their summer duty as the sole source of activity and inspiration for their energetic young ones.
In the midst of the excitement, we know that public and private education has faced some challenges over recent years. From Covid lockdowns to Critical Race Theory and the impact of gender ideologies on K – 12 education there is uncertainty for some. Parents may even be wondering what their role in their children’s education is. What a Parent – School Partnership is supposed to look like.
Whose Children Are They?
It is critically important for parents to remember that, according to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, they are ultimately responsible for their children’s education. Children do not belong to teachers, schools, the community, or the government. A school’s only purpose is to serve the family in a very narrow, and delegated capacity, i.e., the education of children in a moral environment and with a curriculum that meets parent’s approval.
The Church repeatedly makes clear that “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2223) and that their role in education is “so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking” (Pope Paul VI, Gravissimum Educationis 3).
Most children are educated in public or private schools, so parents have a responsibility to choose a school, whenever possible, that respects and supports their primary role in forming the intellect, moral character, and religious beliefs of their children. Whether education is being funded by tax dollars or tuition, families who have their children in public and private schools need to carefully monitor what is being taught in the classroom so that it doesn’t contradict the religious and moral beliefs of the family. Schools are there to serve the family. Parents must assume their role as the primary educators of their children within the school.
A Partnership in Education
The Regina Academies support parents in their role as the primary educators of their children. Our schools do that by forming a partnership with parents so that together they can nurture children’s growth in knowledge, wisdom, and virtue with the Roman Catholic faith at the core of both the school and the home.
Like all partnerships, the best ones are formed between those who agree on the desired result and how to achieve it. That’s why choosing the right school is so important. Parents must know that they can trust teachers to not undermine what parents are teaching at home. Schools, in turn, must trust that parents will support the school by forming children at home in the same spirit.
Classical schools, like the Regina Academies, form children in truth, goodness, and beauty, or what we call the transcendentals – those are the universal attributes of being that reflect the divine origin of all things. If children spend their time at home watching banal television programs and playing video games, then the efforts of the school to orient children’s passions toward a life of virtue as reflected in those transcendentals is in vain. As one excellent article that is well worth a read has been titled, “A Classical School Demands a Classical Home.”
A Shared Responsibility
There are many responsibilities on both sides of this parent – school partnership. Some are shared, and some are unique, but for success in the adventure of forming children to be intelligent, virtuous adults who love God and neighbor, each must support the other’s role and keep the differences between home and school, at least regarding religious formation and the formation of moral character and virtue, at a minimum.
Children face many challenges in our contemporary culture that their parents and grandparents could never have imagined. The times that we are living in require parents to be wise to the many ways our secular culture can undermine Christian faith and morality. They must be especially aware of the addictive and formative role technology plays in the lives of young people.
May Our Lady, Our Regina, guide us all as together we offer our children to her maternal care and protection.