Would You Send Your Child to a School More Religious than You Are?

Updated on April 16, 2015
J.C. asks from Blacksburg, VA
32 answers

We are looking for a new school for my daughter. We need one that will challenge her academically (her current school does not). We are also trying to get her out of her current class because it is a very small class, and a clique has formed that leaves her with few to no friends. (I posted on this earlier and got GREAT responses so thank you to everyone who replied to that post!) Anyway, we don't have a lot of choices as far as schools go. I did a lot of research and thought I had picked the best one (where she is now). There aren't tons of others.

One school that gets great reviews for teaching to the level of each individual student is a classical Christian school. We are Christian, and the school where she goes now is Christian, but this school takes it one step further. They teach Bible daily and a lot of the other subjects are taught based on the Bible. We make it to church maybe 15 times a year. Should we consider this school?

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answers from Washington DC on

For me personally ... one of the BIG reasons my kids never went to private school is because they are all religion based. There were no non-religious private schools I could find.

So for me ... NO I wouldn't send my kids to a school that was more religious than I was.

I was very involved with their public schooling and they are all brilliant.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would determine if the church's policies and practices fit with what you follow. I would also want to know what other subjects are taught via Bible studies. Science? Social Studies? I went to a private Christian school as a young child and we did Bible study, but I would also say they were pretty non-denominational and didn't try to pretend dinosaurs didn't exist. We sent our daughter to an Episcopalian preschool and she learned about saints we don't bother about and we just discussed the differences in their denomination vs ours.

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answers from Washington DC on

Of course you should consider it, but considering it means a lot of legwork and time on your part.

I would absolutely:
--Sit in on classes, especially science and history classes
--Ask to borrow copies of the textbooks they use, not just for your daughter's grade but grades to come, so you can spend some real time looking at them
--Ask for substantial meetings (not a five-minute "hello" meeting) with teachers so you can talk with them about what it means when they say "other subjects are taught based on the Bible." Get specific examples and see how you feel about those examples.
--Ask where they get their curriculum; do they devise it themselves? Are teachers given leeway and responsibility for their own curricula? Or do they perhaps follow a larger curriculum for Christian schools set by -- whom?
--Talk with the principal about how the school evaluates teachers. Are they given regular performance reviews? On what criteria are teachers judged by the school--for instance, are they judged on pass rates, on adhering to specific "Bible-based" lessons, etc.?

We are practicing Christians who attend church regularly and are active in our church. We also are a family with a strong interest in sciences both professionally and personally--so that's where I'm coming from. I would be careful about any school where "other subjects are taught based on the Bible." I have to be frank, I would want to know if that was code for creationism in science class, which would not work for us at all, and code for certain "moral standards" in other classes with which we would disagree (such as "you're going to hell if you don't believe our exact creed as we teach it here"). If I did think a Christian school was of interest to us, I would do a lot of research along the lines above.

I also would wonder if kids who are from families like yours, who do go to church but not frequently, would start to feel some pressure from other students or even teachers to be more religious outside school--? That's a harder one to nail down. I know people who are not at all religious who send their kids to various religious schools but who say they are never, ever pressed to attend church events or join that specific denomination etc. and that's fine with them. But I have one set of friends who sent their kids to a Christian school that was affiliated with a large church and there was pressure, both subtle and not so subtle, for the kids to be more "religious" and for the family to come to this or that church event. Just something to keep in mind.

Also, bear in mind, if you child is going to this Christian school all the way through high school, how well do the older grades prepare students for college, what is the college admission rate among seniors, what colleges tend to accept kids from this school? How challenging are the high school level classes? (Colleges want to see kids taking the most rigorous and tough classes available to them in high school; does this school provide that, compared to local public and secular private schools?) Those are things to ask about every school, not just this one and not just because it's a Christian school.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I would want to really understand what they are teaching before I even considered this. Are they teaching evolution? How old do they believe the earth is? As a scientist, I would have a serious issue if they are teaching "science" based on the bible, instead of on actual scientific knowledge.

And, I'd have to know - how would the school handle it if I taught my child something differently from how the school teaches it. If I look at the stars and tell my child about the big bang theory, is her science grade going to suffer because it's not consistent with Genesis?

I am not trying to scare you away. In fact, I know a person who teaches biology at a Christian school, and in her school, she teaches evolution, etc, and her curriculum is scientifically accurate - even when it conflicts with the literal words of the bible. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a relative who went to a school where she was taught that dinosaurs never walked the Earth, and that the bones were put into the ground to test our faith. So Christian schools vary really really widely on this stuff, and you need to know what you are choosing.

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answers from San Francisco on

I'd think the biggest challenge would possibly be in Science. Check out the curriculum they're using. As long as they're teaching a relatively secular curriculum in science, I'd probably be okay with my kids going there. If they're teaching "young earth" type stuff, I wouldn't want to pay tuition for that, no. (We homeschool, but there is a LOT of homeschool curriculum published for the religious homeschool market, and we tend to be quite secular in what we prefer, so I've spent a lot of time pondering this issue.)

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answers from Boston on

It depends. What does it mean to "teach Bible daily" and to teach "other subjects based on the Bible"?? I have taught in 2 religiously based schools with strong Bible classes (Jewish schools so Jewish/Hebrew scriptures) but there was plenty of accommodation and respect for students along the spectrum of Jewish observance. Most kids and teachers were Conservative or Reform Jews, with a few Orthodox and a few more who were more culturally Jewish than religiously. Certain rules were followed such as keeping the kitchen Kosher and requiring lunches that did not violate Jewish dietary laws, but that was so that everyone could eat there. There was no condemnation for people who did not keep kosher in their homes. Some kids went to synagogue every week, some occasionally, some never (and some families were not members of a synagogue even). But the assumption was that there was an openness to learning synagogue practices and rituals.

Bible study was in Hebrew and English, with various English translations used (and differences of interpretation discussed). But in Jewish study, differences of opinion are celebrated and welcomed. So if some chose to believe that the world was created in 6 days, fine. But there was plenty of discussion about "what does a 'day' mean" and so on. But science classes taught evolution and that the earth is billions of years old, younger grades studied dinosaurs and that sort of thing, with no pressure about "they existed with humans." I taught music, and while we would certainly not sing Christmas carols, we did plenty of secular music (American standards and folk songs, for example) along with Israeli songs and synagogue sacred music. History classes included whatever the public school curriculum included (Civil War, European history, etc.) and the library and classrooms were full of Dr. Seuss and The Hungry Caterpillar and everything else you would expect.

So you have to ask. You have to look at the textbooks and you have to ask point blank how literal their interpretations of the Bible is. You can also ask which translation of the Bible is being used for your daughter's age group. Interpretations vary wildly based on whose point of view is in the classrooms.

One thing you should be aware of is that any school that includes religious study of any kind is going to have fewer hours devoted purely to science, math and history. There are only so many hours in the day. That's not a bad thing necessarily. In my school, the kids learned Hebrew and Spanish on top of English, so those benefited their education in many ways.

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answers from San Francisco on

I wouldn't have a problem with a Christian school unless they were teaching intolerance against gays, women, reproductive rights, science, etc.

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answers from Springfield on

You are her first and greatest teacher! Remember that! Whatever any school teaches her about religion is going to be trumped by what you teach her at home. You are the one she will trust.

I went to Catholic grade school, high school, grad school (MA in Theology), and I can tell you without a doubt, that my parents' influence is my foundation. Everything I've learned has been seen through the eyes of what they taught me. We are all very active in our church.

The part that would concern me the most is whether or not the school taught science. The Bible is not a book of science. It is a book of the religious history of a people. It is historical truth, not historical fact. It is not a history book. There are no dates. Even the historical events in the Bible cannot be pinned down. (The Gospels of Matthew and Luke differ on the date of the birth of Christ by years! And there was no census!)

If you talk to the school and parents and feel you are pleased with the curriculum and believe they would teach science (and not Biblically based science), then I wouldn't be too concerned about the religious teachings. Chances are the religious teaches will center around the Golden Rule and Salvation. If you're ok with that, you're probably ok.

But please don't take my word for it. Talk to as many parents as you can and try and get a good picture of what it's really like to be a student there.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I would send her to the school if you think it's a good school and a good fit for your daughter. It seems like your daughter needs to be challenged academically, and if the school provides it, why not? My husband and I are Christian, but we looked into both Catholic and Jewish schools in our neighborhood when we were trying to pick a school for our daughter. Keep an open mind and visit the school to see what they have to offer. If, after visiting, you don't feel comfortable then don't send her, but it doesn't hurt to visit.

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answers from Asheville on

I would if it benefited my family, but probably only in the younger years. After that, I would worry that curriculum didn't mesh with my views, such as evolution vs creationism. We are a secular family, but I considered sending my youngest to Christian school- mainly because it was so convenient, and her birthday falls right after the public school cutoff (this school's cutoff was later). Inevitably, we decided against it and decided to send her to another private kindergarten since there were too many hoops to jump through with the registration process.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I have sent my children to a private Anglican school. Any school based on religion is more religious than me. They had chapel once a week, and one lesson on. Christianity a week. That was fine with me.

When we moved away from that town I looked into another school which was Seventh Day Adventist. They based everything on their religion and had daily bible study etc. I just could not bring myself to send my children to such a school. Nope. No way.

A little sprinkling of spreading the love is fine, but complete indoctrination with dodgy science teachings is not on.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I would not.
I'm a Christian, as well, but prefer subjects be taught from science.
Good luck!

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answers from Los Angeles on

I send my daughter to a school that is probably much like the one you describe. Trust me, there are plenty of cultural Christians there turning out plenty of cultural Christian kids (other wise known as luke warm Christians). Kids mostly emulate what they see at home for spirituality. Not sure why any professed Christian would put academics before spirituality or fear too much spiritual training taught from the book they profess to believe is the Word of God. But trust me, I know plenty of people who were raised up in very religious schools who aren't Christian at all. Yes, I think you can safely raise luke warm Christian kids at a very religious school.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I think that you have to think about what you're really looking for. Kids get a perfectly fine education from public school and private school and homeschooling. They have certain things they need to learn within that years time and if they are behind or ahead that just makes it hard going into the next grade, they are either overwhelmed or bored because they already know this.

So find the school that you like the best. If you want a Christian education for your child then pick a religious school. If you want a regular education for your child take her to the local elementary school and enroll her.

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answers from Washington DC on

few people are more religious than i, but few people share my religion!
i sent my older boy to a private christian school. i wasn't a christian, but he was at that time, and i thought i'd asked all the right questions and settled in my mind that it was okay.
it wasn't. they were on a mission to 'save' my son from his evil mother, and worse, their academic standards were in the toilet.
my bad for not checking out that side of things better.
so i'd say that if you are confident that it's a great school, it's fine to send her there, even if they're more devout than you. especially since it's likely that you too are christian, am i right?
just keep the lines of communications open with your kid.

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answers from Chicago on

My kids go to Catholic school, and we are not religious at all, much less Catholic.

If you don't mind them learning some of the structures and principles of religion along with their education, I can't see why it matters, honestly.
In our view, they're not learning anything that's hurting them, and the school is far better than the local public option that we have.

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answers from Chicago on

i would consider it but my husband would not. he seems to think that since its christian based teaching the children will not get the non biblical history and science and such.
i went to a christian school and was shocked when i got to public college to find out how little i was actually taught in science, history and literature. theres more to these subjects than what is in the bible and the school i went to failed to acknowledge this. so my history backed my hubby up, but not all christian schools are the same.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

My concern would be "a lot of the other subjects are taught based on the Bible. " As in what was taught at a local Christian college, that earthquakes and hurricanes are not the result of shifting tectonic plates or collisions between hot and cold air masses, but evidence of God's wrath? I would not want to send my child to a school with an Abeka science curriculum.

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answers from Denver on

I think this could be a situation where you get out of it what you put into it. My daughter went to public elementary but a Christian middle school, and is now back in a public high school (the public schools here are equal academically to the private Christian ones). The Christian school did a good job of letting parents know what might be different. They sent out info that they do not teach evolution entirely. So that would be my first thought for you- what does the curriculum really look like for classes, specifically science? Her school ended up sort of teaching both- saying here is what we believe as Christians, here are the other theories. Talk about challenging her academically! It was great and helped open her mind (not brainwash) knowing that different people believe different things. It really challenged her because she learned many views, not just one.

The other subjects were also taught based on the Bible, and I can't remember what that exactly looked like, but it wasn't like it changed history or anything, just had Biblical mentions. It was fine.

So find out what their curriculum looks like and go from there. If you are willing to be involved, you could make sure to monitor what she is learning and supplement if there are any gaps in what you think she should know. That was our plan with DD's school, to talk about evolution at home. But it turned out not to be necessary. My guess is that if this new school teaches to the level of each student and are so highly rated, they are receptive to the real world learning needs of students. It's not like they are being taught crazy things like the poor kids in a polygamist cult. THAT'S crazy, not classical Christian education. Good luck!

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answers from Norfolk on

People do but I wouldn't.

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answers from Sacramento on

I sent our daughter to a one-week summer camp at a local church, but that's about as far as I'd go. For school, I'd be too worried they'd downplay scientific facts in favor of their theories.

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answers from Reno on

My children go to Catholic school and we are really happy with it. My husband was not on board at first because he has issues with organized religion. (we are both Catholic by the way, he just is not practicing) That being said we knew that they would be taught religion however it really does not make a difference to the school if you are Catholic or not. (we have lots of non Catholic kiddos that attend) As far as other subjects they are taught as is not religious based, science for example is taught as science. I think you just need to research with the school if you will be a good fit. For us a couple of the Christian schools that came highly recommended really expected us to be Christian and my hubby could not adhere to that. For us our school was the best fit. They get the education that hubby is looking for and they get the religion as well which I like. It balances out.
Many blessings to you

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answers from Portland on

I think the only person who can answer this is you, your husband and your daughter :)

Religious beliefs and how much religion you are comfortable and would welcome in her life and as part of her education are really personal decisions.

Myself - I would not be keen. But that's irrelevant to you.

My kids get a great education from our regular schools within our neighborhoods - so they have formed friendships in the school, at local groups (sports and activities) and also with neighbors. So even if they are in a class one year with few friends (we have multiple classes for each year) they have other options for friends. I also like that regular schools have multiple classes for each grade in that more opportunity to make more (or better suited) friends.

My kids go to a religious based summer camp. At first I wasn't sure I was ok with that, so what I did (and this is just summer camp - I assume you do more investigation if it was school) is I talked to other parents who's kids already had attended the camp, I talked to counsellors (teens) at the camp and kids who went. I felt I had all the info I needed before sending them there.

I was really happy with the amount of religion covered. If it was more, my kids probably wouldn't have felt comfortable.

So I think do more looking into it and really, it's your daughter who's going to be going there - see how much she's into.

My kids made most of their closest friends outside of school (through activities and sports). Just a thought :)

Best of luck :) It's never easy not being part of a clique, but remember .. at a new school there already may be a clique there too. That's the harder part about switching schools. Sometimes it takes more than a year to break into the clique.

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answers from Williamsport on

Do you have time to supplement the information your child will not be getting while being taught the Christian version of everything? If so, then there are benefits that may be worth it.

In our particular area, the private Christian school near us is academically inferior. You wouldn't know it by the beaming reviews the clients-I mean members- give it, but I heard from friends who taught public high school that kids transferring in from that school were always behind, and I know a graduate who admits when she got to college she barely knew how to write even though she always easily got straight As there, so....

Yours could be an excellent Christian school with great academics, but even so, you'll need to teach real science at home most likely with homeschool curriculums perhaps. I also highly recommend The Story of the World homeschool history curriculum books for an accurate historical depiction of all the world's religions.

I wouldn't personally pay good money to have my kids believe Christianity is the only valid religion in the world. That only leads to ignorance. I use those history books at home because my kids are in public school not learning any religious history at all. Also, the day my kids learned about 9/11 in school, my neighbor's kids learned that gays and lesbians go to hell in the Christian school.

So just be diligent if you leave you kids in their hands. It can be harmless if you're aware of the pitfalls.

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answers from Chicago on

You need to sit in classes at the school to get a feel for it. I love our Christian school and all the biblical teachings.

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answers from Miami on

My family was very religious growing up. My mom thought this would be a good idea for my younger sister. (My mom's a teacher, btw.) So, she put my sister in this Christian school.

At the end of the year, my mom pulled her out and put her back in the public school. When I asked her why, she told me that the quality of the program was not what she expected. My sister was a half year behind and it took a lot of work to catch her up. My mom was so disappointed.

Imagine what it's like for kids whose parents AREN'T teachers and don't know how to guage their progress.

I know that there are good Christian schools out there. The thing is, you don't know by reading reviews. You need to see the outcome of their academic testing scores. Like it or not, that's important.

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answers from Portland on

I've heard a lot of good things about classical curriculum. That said, I do think you can expect that they will be teaching intelligent design. Personally, it's not a choice I would make unless my options were extremely limited. Otherwise, I'd likely prefer to supplement my child's education. That said, if I had strong limitations with what was available, I'd also trust that my son could be confronted with the beliefs of others and that we have given him enough support to feel comfortable having his own opinions... even if they are different from his classmates or different from ours.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I wouldn't send my kids to a school that didn't hold the same religious beliefs as my family. "Christian" is such a broad term. I am a regular church going Christian, but I would never send my kids to a school run by the Catholic church or an Evangelical church. We may all be Christians, but we have widely different beliefs and interpretations of the bible. Catholic schools teach against using birth control and evangelical schools teach creationism, both things that go against my church's teachings.

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answers from Cleveland on

We were kind of looking at this issue. In our case, another school came along so we didn't have to decide but I was having trouble with the idea of forcing so much religion on my child when I wasn't going to put nearly the same amount of effort in. Seems hypocritical. And did I want all that time spent on religion versus other subjects? There are so many demands on kids' time now and I think I would have started to resent too much time in my view on religion. And did I want to live up to all the outside participation they seem to require? I think I'd have resented that too. I don't like telling anyone they HAVE to volunteer all weekend on something. I have a friend sending his kids to Catholic when he's not Catholic or religious at all. It's fine now bc his kids are young but when they're older, I wonder how he will feel. I get doing it if you have no other good options but it wouldn't be on the top of my list and I was raised pretty Catholic...

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answers from Anchorage on

I wouldn't, but that is because I feel many religious institutions like the one you talk about brain wash children into thinking Christianity is the only valid religion, and rather then creating adults who are faithful they create adults who are simply afraid not to believe. I would prefer my children are in an environment that promotes all religions as equally valid, it promotes tolerance and understanding. But, I also have no issues with my kids going to public school, so that makes my choice a little easier I guess.



answers from Los Angeles on

Theodore Roosevelt once said:
"A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education."

Teddy Roosevelt and other children of wealth (he spent summers in Europe, and once traveled the Nile on vacation) had private tutors. Learning the Bible (and reading other classics) was part of their education. The Bible is full of incredible wisdom. I take Bible study classes and I love them. I WISH I could get my kids in a Bible study. My 10-yr-old is starting to read Proverbs and is enjoying figuring out what they mean and the wisdom they impart. We talk about it and I explain if there are any questions.

So, I absolutely would consider this school for my children. I think every kid should learn the Bible. I don't know if it still is, but in England, it was part of their public school as it is considered "classic" literature, right alongside Shakespeare.

Have you ever read Psalms or Proverbs? Proverbs are short saying full of wisdom. You might want to start reading it. I find such comfort and reassurance in reading it.

Proverbs 1 - I've read this to my teenage son. Each line is deep and should be taken to memory, by anyone of any age.

I've heard that (years ago) the first few chapters of the Book of Romans was studied and memories by law students because it was an example of a perfect argument.

I love science, but I believe in creationism. I don't see the problem with either. Students should be exposed to both POVs because they are worth exploring and considering.

To answer your question, yes we have done this. I sent my son (then a 5th grader) to a private Jewish school for 1 year. Dad is Jewish (not practicing) and at the time I was a former Catholic. So yeah, we sent him to a religious school. He didn't care for the religion part, but we were happy he was exposed to some of his heritage and lessons. Bonus: we met some great people and learned beautiful traditions and were a part of a lovely community. Downside: it was not worth the money we paid. It didn't meet our son's needs and it was not represented accurately to us.
But the blessing for me... it peaked an interest in me to study the Bible for myself, something I always wanted to do.

There is an expensive Christian school in my town. It's very impressive academic program with people moving to our city to attend this school, driving far distances for this school and some coming from abroad. I wish we could afford it. One of the Jewish kids went there. He loves it. His dad is Jewish and mom was nominally Christian. So you can see, that parents DO send their kids to religious schools, even different faiths, because the academics are worth it.

No place is perfect. That chi-chi Christian school has great things about it and downsides too. All schools do. All schools have their own culture.



answers from New York on

My oldest son's education included schools that would reinforce what I believe. My son also went to a catholic school for 1st grade. Worse experience for him and me not due to the catholic piece of the puzzle but due to the extreme discipline of the students and the prejudice against non hispanic speaking students. It was even a nightmare for a teacher whom we knew personally. He made it through that year and never went back. It was very stressful for all of us.

I chose schools for him based on the academics and the extra stuff like sports, religious values, activities, class sizes, education and years of experience of the teachers and administrators. My son excelled in every school I sent him to except one which was non religious in nature. He went there for the first part of his second grade experience. He tested well and got in based on the testing. Once there the teachers insisted he didn't have the maturity to do the agressive learning this school put their students through. I had to agree because that second grade class was learning a foreign language and doing 4th or 5th grade level math. My son loves math but was falling short with the reading, science and foreign language classes. He loved his teachers and class mates but couldn't get through the day and this was hurting other students.

Send your kid to a school you believe is a good match for the temperment, strength and aptitude of your child. If your child is old enough you may want to get her input.

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