School finally started this week in Turkey, so my home schooled kids can no longer feel sorry for themselves because they have to go to bed at a decent hour and get up to study from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. while their Turkish friends play in the park all day and night. Every year we start a few weeks earlier than the local schools do, so it’s a relief when school starts, and my kids’ friends have to study just like they do.
We were blessed to arrive when my kids were small. I sent them to public pre-school for one year, so they had a crash course in Turkish. Since then, I’ve homeschooled, but they’ve continued language learning over the years.
Although I’ve chosen the home school route, I also respect families who have chosen local schools. This is common especially in elementary levels, when it’s easier for mom and dad to help the kids with homework.
Here are some advantages to local schools:
- The children learn the language and adapt more quickly.
- They make friends more easily.
- Mom has more time to do language study or engage in ministry.
- School provides a door into the community for the whole family.
- Education based on memorization
- Lots of homework
- Stress on the child
How to overcome the challenges?
I asked some of the cross-cultural workers in our country how they help their children overcome some of the challenges of being in local schools, and here is a summary of what they said: (Direct quotes are in blue.)
- Don’t push them too soon.
Don’t feel you have to enroll them in school the moment you arrive. Give them some time to adjust. They won’t suffer academically from losing a few months.
- Lower your academic expectations during the language learning phase.
“Kids need a few years of Turkish school/Turkish in order to function at a competent level academically. Parents, don't think that your kids are behind, not learning or not trying. They will get it and move ahead with your support, not with constant pushing for good grades. We experienced this with three of our kids here who have all gone on to U.S. universities and done well.”
- Be present and develop relationships at the school.
“Be a presence in your kid's school; show up unexpectedly; have tea with the teachers and principal. Get good relationships going, and that will help considerably.”
- Support and encourage your child during the adjustment phase.
- Remember kids have problems in school no matter where they are
- Pray and trust God with your kids.
How many of you out there have your kids in local schools? What is it like? What suggestions do you have for someone whose child is struggling?