Homeschool, Christian School, Public School

Is there a best way to educate?

Yes, I think there is a best way.

I’m a mom of three boys, 13, 10 and 9.  And I think there is a best way to school my kids.  That best way is found through lots of prayer and intention.  Every year my husband and I reevaluate what school is the best choice for each of our boys.  And for the past two years, they’ve all attended different schools.  One is homeschooled, one attends a private Christian school and one is in public school.  We truly believe that each boy is the the exact place that he needs to be right now.

I’ve learned blanket statements are not true:

“you are sheltering your child by homeschooling”

“your child can evangelize in public school so that’s where he should be”

“classical Christian education is always the best”

or my personal favorite~ someone actually said this to me:

“the worst homeschool is still better than the best public school”

The truth is, only the parents can make the best judgement on the best method of education for each child for each year, month or even day.  And God uses circumstances to help guide our decisions, financial, location, health etc.

There is a best answer every year for every family’s situation.

The question is, are we ok with allowing Him to guide others down a different path than we are on?

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  1. 1

    Yes, yes, and yes! I have always found it encouraging that you do what’s best for each child, individually. I homeschooled my oldest for five years. Now all 3 boys are in public school and my daughter will start next year. We bought a house intentionally where the school system is good. It’s not perfect, I don’t think there is any perfect school because they are all run by imperfect humans. We need to accept that each family has to make the very best decision for their family and respect it. We’re not cookie cutters, we’re people. Every parent (with the exception of a few whackadoos) wants the best for their child. I know I do, and I know you do too. No two families are the same.

    Blessings,
    Mel
    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  2. 2

    I think thats a great idea! I will have to talk to my husband about this when Chloe’s at the age for school. We intend to have more kids and education is a big issue for me… more so for me then my husband…

    thank you

  3. 3

    Like you, my husband and I always pray and ask for God’s guidance about our children’s education. Every step, every decision we have to make, through all seasons, we bring them all to Him through earnest prayers. And His guidance always brings peace to our hearts and minds.

  4. 4

    Amen. Everyone has to make their own choices and who are we to judge their decisions? Thank you for stating this so well.

  5. 5
    Jessica says:

    Good for you. No one knows your own children more than you do and what is best for them. I attended a public school and my brother attended a very small Christian school because he needed a smaller environment and somewhere he could get more attention. I loved being in a large school and being able to participate in lots of different things and not having all the attention on me. Everyone is different and every situation is different. God bless you and your family!!

  6. 6

    I really appreciated this post. I blogged about this awhile back and was surprised at the response. Thank you for this. And thank you for directing us the Lord in this decision.

    http://wimberlys.blogspot.com/2011/03/school-matt-damon-and-my-chimera.html

  7. 7

    OH,yes….are we willing to travel the path he has us on. Some days, if I look up and see the paths others are on and I can’t see in their hearts…it ‘looks’ easier…..but, then I read about Jesus…how he did not go into a home to sleep, but appeard on the mountain in the morning, when I consider the path he took…and he is my King, over the Universe and how he lived so humbly…..I am thankful…..and know that I am blessed and hold my children close……thank you for these sweet words!

  8. 8

    I had been contemplating writing a blog about this, but it would have been written EXACTLY how you have written it (minus the personal info! :) ). It always surprises me how adament Christian parents can get about their decisions. I LOVE that your emphasis is on prayer and reevaluation. I have heard friends say that it is selfish not to homeschool. But if God directs his children, we need to trust His leading (in ourselves AND others!). Thanks so much for sharing this.

  9. 9

    As a veteran home schooler, I was a little afraid to click on the link for this post. So glad you wrote what you did. I’ve been meaning to write about my experience as well but am afraid I need a little more distance. The best advice my husband and I got when starting out was to evaluate the resources God had provided each year (time, money, opportunities) and pray about what was the best option available for each child. Unfortunately, in a broken, fallen world even the best educational choice available has its limitations. Thank you for writing this and for emphasizing the need for wisdom and prayer.

  10. 10

    Amen! Amen! AMEN! I believe God gave us so many educational options because every child is different! May God continue to give you wisdom and grace and strength for each new day!

  11. 11

    Great words of wisdom. God has called us to put our young daughter in a public school. I had such a hard time trusting God with this, but it has been a great experience for our whole family. I believe we have to respectful of each other’s decision in this area, assuming we are following God! Thanks for your encouraging words!

  12. 12

    Well stated. And very true. We have friends who’ve done that exact thing as well with their three kids. The Lord will guide parents in the direction of His will, for sure. Thanks for making this about God’s will, not about preconceived notions.

  13. 13

    Right on. Instead of looking at what others are doing and judging them – follow God and you can’t lose. Each child is different, each family is different. God knows that and has the best plans for everyone. Great post.
    Blessings,
    Jan

  14. 14

    Thank you. Very well written. And, since you have walked the road ahead, very comforting also. After agonizing for two years over our kindergarten decision, suddenly there only seemed one option for this year. It is not where I thought we’d end up, but I am strangely at peace with it.
    (The rollercoaster process of deciding has taught me to be less judgmental of other people’s decisions, as I’ve considered every option out there)…

  15. 15

    I’m a good few years out from having to make these decisions… but, still feel the weight of it already forming from time to time. NEVER thought about it like this, honestly! Thanks for your insight and encouragement!

  16. 16
    Rachel says:

    Oh Thank YOU!
    Our daughter is four and we are really struggling with this decision. We pray about it daily (sometimes more than daily) and it’s hard to block out all the “advice” we get from other parents.

  17. 17

    Very good! I remember someone asking me if I thought it was a sin to NOT homeschool…and many homeschoolers I have known act as if it is a sin NOT to homeschool. Since the actual “methods” of educating our children are not even mentioned in scripture, and it hasn’t really been “legal” for former generations, and still isn’t legal in some countries, it can’t really be a “sin” issue. You are right on! Pray for what is best for each child and go with it…and thank God we have options. Those doors just may close one day. And God will be just as capable then as he is now of taking care of our children.

  18. 18

    Great article! We homeschooled but each year, we re-evaluated and sought The Lord as to His direction for our family and how we could minister and glorify Him through our school choice. Just so happens that my daughter graduated homeschooled last June while my oldest daughter graduated from public school 5 years ago. It makes my heart sad when Christians get divided, lose unity and quarrel (even get made and resentful) over this issue. God bless you and thanks again!! :)

  19. 19
    Alexandra says:

    What a great post. I totally agree that parents should decide what is best for their kids. And wow, you really must be intentional to go to the trouble of having each kid in a different school. Blessings to you.

  20. 20

    Looking at homeschooling from the other end now, my views have changed and grown. For me, when I think my action causes me to be “more spiritual” than other moms in any area; cooking, schooling, parenting, etc – then I know I’m the one who needs to ask the Lord forgiveness and move on. Very balanced post and by the comments, it looks like it needed to be said. Nice job :)

  21. 21

    Dealing with this, for the very first time, in a very real way, this fall. Debating over schools for my oldest, and I know it only gets worse, and what kills me, is that its not like its COLLEGE! Yet I have just as much angst over it. Serious angst. REALLY needed to hear this. Kind of confirms what my husband and I have already been discovering but its wonderful to hear. Seriously needed it.

  22. 22

    Oh Nester. Nester, Nester, Nester!

    I have stalked you since your early blogging days, after my sister stumbled on your site first and kept forwarding me all your awesome ideas {she knows I have a heart to create a pretty home but that I need inspirational vision to do it}. I have always thought you funny, smart, and unbelievably creative.

    But this post? THIS post makes me want to wrap my arms around you and squeeze the living daylights out of you. Everything you say here…YES, YES, YES.

    Love,
    Kristen {a.k.a. A Mama of kids who’ve received Christian and homeschool educations but are now in public school}

  23. 23

    I want to grow up to be like you someday! I am a teacher and I know that my school is great, but it isn’t the best place for every child. They might need something or someone different teaching them. You are an inspiration to all of those parents who just want to make their own lives easier. Having worked with all kinds of learners makes me appreciate what you are doing even more. I hope some day I can find the “right place” for my littles.

  24. 24

    Love this post…so many factors…so many differences from family to family.
    We all really just answer to God for our particular family and our particular kiddos.

    This post lists “25 Questions to Ponder and Pray Through When Considering Education Options” (with no “right” answer at the end).

    http://thechuppies.blogspot.com/2011/03/so-where-do-your-kids-go-to-school.html

  25. 25
    Carolyn says:

    A little off topic (actually a lot), but that is an awesome room in the picture. And when I clicked to enlarge, I saw your kids are writing on the same dry-erase board that we have. Love my weekly dry-erase calendar!

  26. 26

    There is such freedom in letting them go with God. We each give an account in the end, not of what others did, but for how I followed Him.

  27. 27

    So well said! There isn’t a cookie cutter plan for every child. What a great reminder to trust and follow God’s lead …

  28. 28

    this was a great post for me this morning. I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter that we’re thinking of putting in preschool this fall. We live in Chicago, and there are myriad options out there for us, but some are pricey, some are not in the greatest of neighborhoods, etc. we’re seeking the Lord’s will, but with a 15 month old, and a baby on the way, the private Catholic school at the end of our block is very appealing. They also have many options for parents- we choose how many days, and whether those are full or half days. Both husband and I were Catholic educated, but are born-again believers now. It’s a lot to think through!

  29. 29

    Wowie! That sounds like alot of juggling! Atleast you and your husband are smart enough to give your children the choice. I went to a private christian school for several years and always came home more depressed and usually crying, lets just say that almost all the (overly rich) christian kids acted less than so, so I chose to go back to public school where I went from being a 3.9 student to failing everything and being told I was stupid and on my own by all of my teachers, so my mom (bless her heart) home schooled me for a year, then I changed my mind again and gave the christian school another chance and found it to be just as bad as before, until my last two years I ended up at a Montessori type highschool that allowed me to work one on one with my teachers, allowed me to go three days a week so that I could also participate in the things I found interesting and now I wish I had spent K-12 there. I don’t think I’ll give my children the same option of choosing their schools, my husband and I have already refused to let them go to public school but I applaud families who can make it work for them.

  30. 30

    Amen! I think any time someone says one solution is best for everybody (except Christ alone for salvation) that’s a huge clue that they are W-R-O-N-G. We started with public school for our daughter (no good Christian school available/affordable) and ended up with homeschool (she’s a senior this year). In fact, one of the main reasons we finally chose homeschooling was her 2nd grade teacher’s statement “My system works for every child” when I explained to her why my daughter could never be successful with her rewards/discipline program. Everyone has to choose what is right for their family…and I admire your doing what is best for each of your children!

  31. 31

    Couldn’t agree more…we’ve done all three, as well, but are currently homeschooling. Each year it is a prayerful reevaluation of where God wants us to be! :) Thanks for your post!

  32. 32

    may i just hug you now?

    loved this post. it went straight to my heart & out came some tears.

    couldn’t agree with you more!

    love ya!
    kellie

  33. 33

    Thanks for sharing. The Lord has kept bringing the issue of schooling up recently. I was dead set on homeschooling until He exposed to me my heart/motives for wanting to do so. To keep them from harm. But that can happen in the home just as easily as it can outside the home-as seen in Joseph’s life. (Just blogged about it) Not that I am sure what I am going to do, but at least I am willing to do what the Lord says, even if that means public school.

  34. 34

    What a powerful and refreshing post! Thank you so much for saying all of this. As a Christian who is a public school teacher that pours her heart and many many hours into trying to do what is best for all the students under my care, I was quite afraid to read this. It seems that so many of the writers of Christian blogs advocate homeschooling only – so much so that I have been scared to attend any of the conferences offered around here. But your advice is absolutely right. No two children have exactly the same needs, and no 2 families have exactly the same situations. Prayerfully following the path God leads us down is the only way to go – and He is big enough that He can send us all in many different directions! (He has definitely done that with your family.)
    So bless you for a wonderfully inspiring post.
    Kelly

  35. 35
    Morgan says:

    Thanks for this! So so very true!! God can and will use any place or any thing in our lives and the lives of others for his glory. ♥

  36. 36

    Thank you for the (in)couragement to follow God’s leading! It’s very hard sometimes to swim against the crowd, especially when that crowd is doing something that they passionately feel is “right”. As an “old school” homeschooler (I homeschooled my children from 1990 – 2000), I knew what it felt like to try to explain homeschooling to those who were shocked that I taught my children at home and then again to those who were shocked that I enrolled some of those same children in Christian school. I learned the hard way that following the Lord’s leading can be difficult even in the faith community.

  37. 37

    i love this post and i love that you’ve found different solutions for each of your boys. i hope we can all stop expecting one-size-fits-all solutions for every person and family. we are uniquely gifted and made to image God in a million different ways!

  38. 38

    Do you think it would be okay if I just printed this out and carried it around with me, occasionally shoving it – in love, of course – in the face of people who want to have this debate?

    Okay. Maybe that’s bad. But this post is GREAT. Thanks for saying it, Nester. :)

  39. 39

    I found this post through a friend on Facebook who had linked to it, and I love what you have to say. I attended public and private schools, plus was homeschooled, and each of those steps on my “educational journey” was chosen with lots of prayer and thoughtfulness by my parents (and myself, when I was older). My three younger brothers also had similar tracks, in that where they were educated was never just a “given”, but carefully chosen based on who they are and what their individual needs, strengths, and weaknesses are. As a teacher now at a private school, I see even more of the benefits of my education- not because I bounced around lots, but because it was designed for ME.

  40. 41

    How early did you have them in different schools and did any of them ever feel lke they were being treated differently? I’ve seriously thought about having my kids in different places b/c they are SO different but have worried about the “consequences”. Luckily I have another year before the younger one starts school.

    • 42

      it’s been a few years now and we talk about it every year and our boys know that they are at the school that is best for THEM~we try to make it a special thing based on their strengths. this past year especially, my oldest and my husband thought long and hard about the best option for him~and, I wanted to write this post THIS year because, next year, it looks like they might actually all go to the SAME school! No one will be left at school because I forgot to pick them up with all of those different end of school times {um, not that that happened more than once…or twice…}

  41. 43

    So true! I was home schooled. I’ve heard a lot of comments over the years like your last comment… and I don’t believe it’s true. We currently have our daughter in a small private school, and I love it, but sometimes I still have my doubts that we are doing the right thing with her. And who knows what will happen when our second child is school age. Each family has to make the choice that works for them… and we shouldn’t judge, but a lot of people do.

  42. 44

    This is so interesting to me – I’ve never met anyone who didn’t school all of their children the same way! I have wanted to homeschool & we’re not completely sure what we’ll do (our children are 3, 1, & unborn), but we do preschool at home with our 3-yr-old and I love it! :) I recently received a free issue of a homeschooling magazine and was very turned off by some of the comments in there that insinuated that all Christian families SHOULD be homeschooling, so I appreciate seeing this very Christlike viewpoint on schooling our children the way GOD wants!!! :)

  43. 45

    As we begin homeschooling Noah this fall, I hope I am so busy enjoying the process that I don’t give a patootie toot what or why other families choose the method of schooling they do. And mostly, I hope I don’t feel the need to explain or justify the reasons we chose what we did.
    I tend to be an explainer and a justifier.

  44. 46
    Jennifer says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your post. Unfortunately I think there are many parents who do not prayerfully consider all schooling options before making these decisions. Children are so unique in their gifts and learning styles — so it is ideal for parents to make educational choices boldly and intentionally. Parents know their children best!

  45. 47

    I am encouraged by your post and even more so by all the positive feedback you’ve recieved. Well done! The Lord has promised to direct our paths if we seek after Him and it is evident that you are doing just that. May many others be encouraged to do the same thing as they consider what the Lord has for them regarding their children’s education. I truly believe one should consider all the options. He just may direct your paths where you thought they would never go!

  46. 48
    Anonymous says:

    ‘And God uses circumstances to help guide our decisions, financial, location, health etc.’

    This really struck home for me because next year our first child will start school. I don’t care for the public school, can’t afford the private school, and know my child needs more social interaction that I can provide for him home schooling. I have been praying for a sign or some guidance.” This gives me an interesting perspective. Thank you.

  47. 49

    sorry didn’t include my info above…..

    ‘And God uses circumstances to help guide our decisions, financial, location, health etc.’

    This really struck home for me because next year our first child will start school. I don’t care for the public school, can’t afford the private school, and know my child needs more social interaction that I can provide for him home schooling. I have been praying for a sign or some guidance.” This gives me an interesting perspective. Thank you.

  48. 50

    Wonderful post! Last year our two oldest were in our church’s private school and this year they are in public. So far, so good. There is no method for us, really; besides prayer and consideration.

  49. 51

    This week at Bible study we got into a discussion about the benefits of Christian vs. public school. By ‘we’ I mean every other parent there who had their children enrolled in the Christian school talked about how great it was, etc., etc. while I just sat and smiled. After most of them had left the remaining two moms did make sure that I understood that in their view it was about having your children where God wants them, and in some cases that is Christian in some cases public. My feelings weren’t hurt, but I did feel like I needed a bit of perspective.

    I got it later this week as I read a book review by Rachel Held Evans on the book “Half the Church”. In the portion she quoted, the author takes the arguments we often have as women over which is more ‘Christian’ staying at home or working outside the home and all the other things that divide us and makes the argument that these are arguments of wealth and privilege that are afforded to us in America, whereas most women in 3rd world countries where survival is the issue would wonder why that is even an argument.

    I think schooling is the same thing. We are so quick to argue about what God does or doesn’t want us to do with regards to schooling, totally ignoring the fact that we are blessed to live in areas where a multitude of choices are laid in front of us. To the family in a 3rd world country, merely the idea that their child COULD go to school would be HUGE. That really shifts my perspective away from trying to identify the one ‘Godly’ solution and instead towards giving thanks for the choices and seeking wisdom on what is the best for our family.

  50. 53

    My children are now 30 and 31 years old. However, when they were in school, my husband and decided the best place for them to be educated was the Catholic school associated with our parish. We decided that having their education and church activities intertwined made a nice circle of their daily lives.
    I was SHOCKED and ANGERED when a new “Christian” next door neighbor asked me if we sent our children to our parish school was because we didn’t want them going to school with African-Americans!!!?????!?!?! I wanted to say so badly that our children had quite a number of multi-cultural friends at school AND church and was this perhaps HER problem??!!!??! Fortunately, the Lord bit my cheek for me and I said, ” Of course not!”
    Needless to say, we became strictly “cordial” neighbors.

  51. 54

    Yes!!! How I love the balance you have regarding your boys’ schooling, but most of all the statement about all of us being on different journeys and allowing God the freedom to be God and guide others down their own path…that is true wisdom :) Let us remember that the spirit brings life, but the law brings death. We can choose to follow and obey God’s principals so that we may honor him… but any time we make laws outside of God’s grace we are in real danger.

  52. 55

    What you are, Nest, is a wonderful person.

  53. 57

    I love this! We happen to be doing all three right now with only two kids! My son, who has Aspergers, goes to the public jr. high school every morning and homeschools/unschools every afternoon. My daughter is in 6th grade at a private school. We’ve always done what we feel is best for them, and it’s gone from public school full-time to homeschool full-time and back to public school to, for the first time, a wonderful and creative private school. I feel God has always been asking me to follow His leading in this area, crazy as it may look to others. I am still in the stage of hoping my kids turn out okay, though! :)

  54. 58

    Yes, yes, yes! I am so glad that more parents are truly seeking God for the best education for EACH of their children and not making choices based on fear. God knows not only what our children need to learn but also all about the experiences each child needs to have and those they need to have relationship with in life. When we wait on God to tell us where each one should be each year then we can trust that His hand is truly on their schooling and that He protects and provides for them out of our obedience. This is such good stuff and I applaud your courage in writing this!

  55. 59

    I’m so grateful you wrote this post! I’m home schooling my two this year for the first time and yes, we love it…but I’m more convinced than ever that there is no right schooling for everyone. We’re grateful to be able to home school and love our family time and less hectic life…LOVE teaching God’s word to my kids a little deeper than I would be able to otherwise…but I’m still not sold that we’ll do this forever. One year at a time. Trust God. Ask what HE wants for your kids. Humility on my part to say I may not always know what is best!!! Shocking thought!! Anyway, thanks for sticking your neck out to share! Love your blog and style and your heart!

  56. 60

    ummmm. i love you? i’m a fan of your sister’s writing but hadn’t read any of yours. and i’m glad. i’m a public school teacher and go to church with primarily home-school families. i love both. but i’ve felt a bit slammed as a public educator lately. one blogger even told me that there is no possible way i have a calling on my life to teach as women shouldn’t work outside the home and that she wouldn’t accept pay to send her children to public school. sigh. thanks for your post. it was uplifting to me to hear from a christian who isn’t dead-set on public schools.

  57. 61

    I love how you guys take the time to think through each kid each year! I have yet to have kids but already have put a lot of thought into what I want to do for my kids. I’ll take that to heart as each kid comes along!

  58. 62

    I feel the same way-you have to evaluate what is best for each child. We’ve done the gamut with our 4-and currently what works for 2 is a very good public school, and homeschool for the other 2. I am guessing-but leaving it in God’s hands-that at some point this will reverse! But I go with the flow-and for now, this is a successful model for our family.

  59. 63

    nester…..just wondering how you decide. do you let your children decide or do you decide for them? i’ve been thinking and praying about it this morning and wondering if I should ask them what they’d like to do. I honestly never even thought of giving them a choice! ha!

    • 64

      we for sure talk with them, but, for our middle child who switched from public to private, he was sensing that it was a bad fit for him as well, so my husband presented the other school as a solution and our son was really thrilled with it. For our 13 year old, last year we let him decide but, my husband REALLY helped guide his decision. For this coming up year, our youngest who is doing great at the public school had complete decision making control. We left it up to him if he wanted to leave his comfort zone {he does not like change} and be with his brothers or if he wanted to stay at his own school. Both were a good choice for him and we were fine either way.

      So, just like with choosing the school, the decision making process was different for each child depending on their needs and options.

  60. 65

    Thank you! I’m a mommy of a three-year-old boy & 17-month-old girl, & I’m knee-deep in processing/praying through this issue. Loved this post. Feel free to email me any tips you have for trying to discern.

  61. 66

    I so appreciate your perspective and the fact that you trust God enough to do what you’re doing. Sometimes I wonder if our (meaning my family’s) education choices reflect more of a lack of trust than divine guidance, even though it may not appear that way on the outside. You’ve given me a lot to think and pray about.

    And can I just say that I love that June popped in here to express her admiration for you! :)

  62. 67
    ruth baumgartner says:

    So thought provoking, thank you.

  63. 68

    As the editor of a homeschooling blog, I must of course urge all readers to homeschool! (Uh, kidding.)

    I think what must be done, just as in any other type of decision we make as parents, is for us to make an INTENTIONAL decision. Being intentional will lead us, as individuals, in different directions. But it will always be the right direction…for us.

    Love hearing how you’ve done so in your own home, Nester.

  64. 69

    I love that you said that each parent should prayerfully consider what is best for them and their family. As people who have chosen prayerfully that public school is the best thing for our children right now we seem to get A LOT of feedback from homeschooling families. I wish more people would acknowledge that each parent prays through their decision about school for their family and that neither decision is wrong.

  65. 70
    Kevyn Sarmiento says:

    I LOVED reading this short but sweet post! My husband and I don’t have kids yet, but we have already had many discussions about where we want our kids to go to school. I grew up in the public school system (from birth through high school), while my husband was home-schooled until high school and then attended the local public high school. He is a huge advocate for home-schooling all the way through high school while I’m an advocate for the same route my husband did growing up. The truth of matter is, even if we DID agree right now on where to send our future kids to school, everything will probably change once our kids come and we get to know their personalities. It will probably also change once we stop and listen to what GOD wants for HIS kids. I love the fact that you said you took the time to see what the Lord had for your kids and you put your kids in schools that fit them. Thanks! This was super encouraging!

  66. 71

    Just found this post… I am so thankful you posted this now.
    We have 3 girls. The first two graduated from public school and did just fine. My last, and most sensitive, started high school this year. She has been so miserable.
    We started praying. She also started praying. It was so cool to see how our God answered our prayers and she will now be attending a local Christian school. It was her choice and God opened a door we could not and we are so excited.
    What have I learned? If you give it to the Lord and seek and ask, God will place your child where He wants them! I prayed the same prayer for each of my girls and it has been amazing what I have seen Him do.
    Again thank you for the timely post, it was very encouraging to me!

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  1. [...] Best Way to School Our Children /* This entry was posted in Homeschooling. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  2. [...] lest you think her smarts runs only on housey stuff, she has killer perspective on everything from school choices to time [...]

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