Christian schools develop the whole child, says Jarvis school principal
Joel Slofstra, principal of Jarvis District Christian School (JDCS) says the benefit of Christian education needs to be emphasized like never before for young families making decisions about their child’s schooling.
“My feeling is that we really need to push what Christian schools offer over and above what the public schools offer,” says Slofstra.
The principal has observed a dynamic among his peers that is different from his parents’ generation – young families in the church today don’t necessarily believe Christian education is important and they’re more willing to shop around and check out all of their options.
But for his parents’ generation, “going to a Christian school was automatic,” Slofstra says.
The principal suggests that a key message young families need to hear is that Christian education develops the whole child.
While Christian schools offer a curriculum similar to the public education system, it goes above and beyond that, Slofstra points out.
“We’re looking at the curriculum through the eyes of Scripture and this is how we’re developing the whole child; we’re not just looking at the academics.
“We’re also helping (the students) to build a foundation base for their life after school.”
JCDS is one of a number of Christian schools across the province facing a downward trend in student numbers in recent years. Enrollment projections for 2005-2011 show an initial decline and then a leveling-off starting in 2009.
Slofstra says those in Christian schools must “remain true to what we want to offer in terms of Christian education.
“We need to do our best to the glory of God to offer Christian education for our kids because it’s really important.”
He also says prayer must continue and along with that a firm belief that “God has a plan” for Christian education in Ontario.
While some schools across the province are dealing with a decline in enrollment in recent years, a study released last year by the Fraser Institute shows that the attendance of Ontario private schools has increased from 1.9 per cent of the student population (1960) to 5.6 per cent (2006).
The survey found the top reasons parents choose an independent religiously-defined school include the school teaches right from wrong, has dedicated teachers, and supports family values.
“Parents tend to be attracted to schools that show strong leadership, clear goals, flexibility, good discipline, high expectations and parent-teacher collaboration,” said co-author of the study Deani Van Pelt. “Many parents believe they will find those qualities in a private school.”