Starting a Christian school and setting it up to have own facility, such as above pictured school, does not have to be daunting task. It is important to remember that small beginnings are how most successful schools have started.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT)
Having started a Christian private school and supervised them, I was able to garner the knowledge of how to efficiently and effectively start a Christian private school.
I have detailed 7 important points that one should apply in starting Christian school. With these steps, it is my prayer that you will be able to start an educational institution that will help your children/grandchildren, your church’s children, and other children be brought up in the Word of God, so that they may lead a purposeful, successful, and abundant life.
The most important thing that must be done is to pray and confirm that this is what God wants your church or group to do. There is no use of continuing on if there is no confirmation. The group of church leaders or concerned party will gather for prayer seeking for God’s guidance.
When there is confirmation, then the vision and mission of the school will follow. Please make these become your school’s vision and mission. At this point it is important to establish a planning committee. Usually the planning committee will make all the necessary decisions at the beginning and the members can remain on as the board of directors of the school.
Next is to assess your environment, namely the church. The church is the most ideal place to start a Christian school. All likely, a Church would have classrooms, which is used for their Sunday school and which is not used during the weekdays. Therefore, these Sunday school classrooms can be used for school classroom.
There are 3 main costs to starting a Christian school, namely: facility (classroom), teacher’s salary, curriculum. It is important to keep the initial cost to a minimum. At the beginning, you will likely be starting with small number of students and their tuition need to cover all the costs. Using the classrooms in the church will negate or minimize the initial cost.
Point of note is that if you have no access to a church with classroom, you can try other local churches to ‘rent’ their Sunday school classroom. However, if this is not feasible, you can start with a home of one of the parents, like a home school. In all, the cost of facility should not be hindering factor in starting a Christian school.
Once you have the facility, next step is to gather parents of candidate students. Starting a Christian school for the first time, it is best to start with elementary school. Thus, look for parents with children in elementary age. The best parents to look for is the family with multiple children in elementary school age.
The starting students are very important to the success of the school. Ideally, you would start with students in one or two grades. For example, if you initially have 5 students in grade 3 and 3 students in grade 4, then start the school with grades 3 and 4 in one classroom with one teacher. It is common to see one class with 2 grades in the beginning of a private school. That would mean you have to reject other grades for that starting year.
Great time to start gathering for student is in July or 2 months before the start of the school year. Host seminars in July and August with potential parents. Educate them on the importance of early education. Progress them onto the importance of Christian education on their lives and close them by enrolling into the school.
Summer camps are great means of gathering students for your school. The church summer camps will most likely improve the behaviour of many of the participating kids and their parents will notice the change in their children. This is the perfect time to speak to the parents about what Christian school can do for their children and enrol them into your school. Because they have seen for themselves the changes that Christian education has on their children, it will be easier decision for the parents.
Additionally, the summer camp is like a pilot school to the school that will be run full year. From the summer camp, the organizers will gain valuable lessons on managing a full academic school.
Hopefully, by this time you have identified at least one teacher before the first two steps. I did not make this the first step, because the number of teacher required would depend greatly on the number of students and their grades. Do note that a teacher plays significant role in getting the prospective parents to trust in the school.
The teachers of Christian school should be from the congregation, but if this is not feasible, then hire from outside. Ensuring that teacher has strong faith is important, as the students will be greatly affected by the teacher. I have seen a teacher greatly encourage a mathematically challenged student to not to give up and continue to study with patience and perseverance. On the other hand, I saw a teacher completely discourage an artistically talented student to drop their drawing pencil.
There are many good Christian textbooks to choose from. Unfortunately, they are mostly English based and many are from United States. However, many Christian schools around the world tend to use US-based curriculum. They take the curriculum and add on their own cultural subjects, like history.
Look for curriculum that comes with Teacher’s guide to help the teachers lay out lesson plan for the year, actual tests and answers to it. You may not find a teacher with experience at the beginning. With a good curriculum, a teacher with less experience in teaching can effectively manage the classroom. It is important that a teacher has the heart for the children and their education.
Check with Province and Federal Laws
Here in the province of Ontario in Canada, Ministry of Education governs public and private schools. It states that if you have 5 or more students, then the school must register with the Ministry as private school. Then Ministry representative will make a visit to confirm the application and grant the private school status.
Please click on the link for further information: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/privsch/#notice
Just to reiterate some of the most important point, remember:
- To seek God’s direction
- That small beginning are norm
- To maximize the church’s facility to reduce the beginning cost
- To start as soon as possible to gather students, at least 2 months before school starts
- Teachers having the right heart for children is more important than experience
- There are many curricula to choose from, but may need some customization of the curriculum to fit the culture
- Seek for governing body on education in your area, to ensure abiding by the rules and guidelines
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
For Christians, raising up our children in the Word of God is not a choice, but a command.
Thank you for reading my article, if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.