Monday, March 26, 2012

Never Say Never

Homeschooling was something I said I’d never do.  

That was for geeks and fringe types, right? If I lived in America, I’m not sure if I would home school or not, but in 2003, the thought of my 6 year old struggling to learn reading in a language he barely knew was not very appealing. 

Early Home School Activity

So his first year of school, my son went to Turkish kindergarten three afternoons a week, and did English home school in the morning.  He actually hated kindergarten, which I’d always thought was supposed to be fun. One of my worst memories of our first year in Turkey is of a morning in November, months after school had started. My gregarious, outgoing son, whom I’d supposed was adjusting well, burst into tears and clung to my waist.

“Please don’t leave me here,” he cried.

 It was all I could do to keep from breaking down myself, but I reassured him as best as I could that he’d be fine, and I turned around and left him there. It was hard to do.

The whole year I kept thinking he’d adjust and begin to like school, but he never did.  My daughter also hated Turkish kindergarten.  Both of them had excellent relationships with kids in the neighborhood, but they hated Turkish school.  So for me it was a no-brainer to continue homeschooling, and now I've been doing it for ten years. (My kids and I joke about being "home school geeks" ourselves! I hope I'm not offending anyone here.)

Education for their children is one of the biggest challenges faced by people living overseas. 

In our part of the world, many workers send their elementary aged kids to local schools and have positive experiences, especially if the parents are proactive about visiting the school to solve problems. Other families opt for home school or private schools. By 5th grade, however, public school kids are under pressure in a highly competitive system and many foreign parents take their kids out of school because they lack the language skills to help their kids succeed.

What Do I Do Now?

Currently my family is grappling with yet another educational decision for next fall. Do we continue home schooling to finish high school, or do we send our children to an Abeka video co-op school? Both options have pro’s and con’s.  What to do?

I’m not sure what is best for our family, but either way, I come down to the same bottom line: I can trust God with my kids and their future.  I can be at peace knowing that He cares for them and that He will give us wisdom to make responsible decisions and grace to be faithful day by day in carrying those decisions out. 

I’d love to hear your perspective. What are local schools like in your part of the world?  Do your kids go to local schools or do you home school? What challenges and blessings have resulted from your choices? 


Linda said...

Wow, this is tough. Helping missionaries educate their kids was our priority--our ministry, our heart's desire--for many years, and still remains a huge concern of ours. Bless you as you seek God's specific leading. I look forward to watching how He does this for you and your dear family.


Creatively Content said...

Olive, Education has been one of the top stresses for me living here in Turkey. We are in the process of making some pretty weighty decisions ourselves for next year. However I agree wholeheartedly with you...there is peace knowing His wisdom and so very accessible. Grace to you this next school year.

Tricia said...

I homeschool my older children, but put my 4 year old in free pre-K this year, and now our Turkish friends who have a daughter one month younger than mine have put her in the church preschool also. I can relate to your experience of kindergarten by watching poor Ceren, who hardly spoke any English, having to stay in preschool while her poor mom left her crying! Thankfully she loves it now, and she told her mom that my daughter speaks Turkish too, LOL.

~Karen~ said...

Except for one school year, we've homeschooled from the beginning, either overseas or in the US. For us, that was something that was a constant for our kids. Our son graduated in 2010, and our daughter will graduate in 2013.

The one year they went to school it was our team's small MK school, which was all of 5 MKs, including our 2 children.

Even though we primarily homeschooled, we sent our son to the local music school to learn guitar. He excelled, and received a music school diploma with an excellent final grade.

Columba Lisa Smith said...

I opted out of the charter school here, for high school. Both my boys are in high school now. I wanted more freedom. Now that Caleb has type 1 diabetes, our schedule is much more demanding. We were falling behind, so a couple months into the school year I bought Switched on Schoolhouse. It saves a lot of time. And yes, it's in English! ; )

OliveTree said...

I understand Lisa. I would like more freedom too, in a way. I am finding 9th grade really time-consuming.

Good to hear from you. Blessings.

And blessings to all of you who commented as you pursue your goals with your kids.

Paula Greene said...

My 10th grader and 6th grader are in public schools and the magnetized pull of the world, even with a strong foundation of faith and in church, feels like a losing battle. I'm in the U.S. and I would choose homeschooling if all the pieces came together, but it is not God's calling for us. On the plus side, many unchurched kids set foot in church and heard the gospel. God bless you as you make your decisions!

us5 said...

it's a tough challenge! for now we are doing part-time home schooling and part-time involvement in the local international school. it's worked great for now, but each year we go back on our knees, asking for guidance.

Aunt Michele said...

I'm in your boat, friend. The boarding school that high school mk's attended in our part of Brazil closed about three years ago. This fall I will have one in 11th, one in 10th and one in 7th. I do my best with school at home, but I feel they need more. Local schools are not the best but would give each one a good grammar base in Portuguese before we leave on a furlough in a year and half. Then my hopes are for each of the older boys to graduate from high school in the States and potentially enroll in college there.

Every day is a challenge for me with homeschooled high schooler mk's, ministry responsibilities and working a few afternoons a week outside of the home teaching English.

I have no big answers just lots of prayers for all in this education of mk's boat.

OliveTree said...

It is interesting to read your comments and realize that each family has a unique situation and unique needs. We really do need God's guidance. Thanks for sharing your situations.

Choate Family said...

Just now catching up on your blog since we've come back from the village. We're so thankful for the flexibility that homeschooling offers! I'll be praying for you and your family as you seek to choose what is best for your crew.


us5 said...

just thinking of you this morning, Olive Tree, praying for blessing on your time with friends and family...♥