We have started a new Instagram project called The Traveling Academy. We have folks posting regularly who are schooling kids from toddlers to high school. Please come on a follow along and tag your friends who may be interested, too.
We’ve homeschooled from day one…actually, more by default than anything else. It’s the only option for our family while in Southeast Asia. And we, like Christie shared in her post, assumed that when we went on home assignment that we would continue our children’s education at home. But out of the blue we got a wild hair to explore the public school option for the one semester we would be home.
One of the first things I did was post on an International Christian Homeschool Facebook Board asking for people’s experiences transitioning their kids to a public school setting. I was really surprised at the first few responses. They were very negative. “I have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to put their kids in public school.” “Public schools are so perverted. I would NOT DO IT.” I don’t know if this was supposed to discourage me from public school, but it did the exact opposite. I realized I am not that type of homeschooler. There are many different options for the global family and there is no cookie cutter way to educate your children. For me it depends on the season of life an expat family is in.
Our season: six months in our home culture living in a smaller three bedroom home with baby #6 due smack dab in the middle.
So after much prayer and research (talking to friends that had students in the school my kids would attend, talking to friends that taught, looking up the educational requirements and the paper work needed) we decided to take the leap of faith and enroll our oldest three children into 3rd, 2nd and Kindergarten at our local public school. We are three weeks in and still in the transition stage, but I wanted to share a few pros and cons to help you if you are on the fence on what to do your next home assignment.
- Mommy Break. Can I get a hallelujah?! No lesson planning or teaching especially during the 9th month and early weeks of this pregnancy.
- Academic Assessment. We have already received some beginning of the school year testing and have seen where on the spectrum of “normal” we are. We have great readers!!! But, it has also come more to my attention where our kids need work in a few things…ummm, spelling. These weren’t revelations for me, but it was a great confirmation on their progress and on what we will hit harder next winter.
- It’s Free. At least in America. Transportation, curriculum and all instruction is free. We all know that homeschooling can be done for little or nothing, but unless you have a lot of time (see No.1), homeschooling can be expensive.
- Social Interaction. I hate using that phrase because I don’t worry one iota about my kids not getting enough social interaction BUT with like culture kids, it isn’t an everyday opportunity in our expat world. My kids are loving having so many friends at school that speak their native tongue. They love recess! I mean, what kid doesn’t?
- Subjects by the experts. In our kids’ elementary school they have extras every day and it rotates through P.E., Art and Music. I try at all three of these subjects, but I fall short.
- Discipline and leadership by other adults. I have mentioned beforehand that my kids don’t take instruction very well from other adults. Now they have to or face public ridicule via the Behavior Chart.
- Future homeschool class management. They are learning to wait their turn and be quiet unless called upon. I really believe this will help me in the future with setting expectations and interruptions while homeschooling.
- Routine. Home Assignment can be described as a short crazy time bouncing from pillow to pillow and public school roots us to one location. It is great for helping my family feel at “home” while on home assignment.
- Loss of flexibility. No. 8 of the Pros is No. 1 on the Cons. We are tied down to one area for an extended period of time. We have lost a lot of flexibility (or at least me and the kids) to visit partnerships and family. I don’t like running on anybody else’s schedule. Having the kids up dressed and out the door at 6:45 is not a cakewalk. Any other Type B’s out there?
- Loss of family time. The kids are gone the majority of the day. I dislike it. This is the hardest thing for me. Now I never have ‘guilt-free ignore my kid’ time.
- Homework. Not only are the kids gone 7.5 hours a day at school, but they come home with homework. Though a pro of this is being able to see what they are working on that week, having so much homework is a major con for us.
- Exhaustion. Our kids are lights out at 7:30 pm and we are still getting afternoon melt downs on all fronts. The scheduling is very trying on our laid-back island family. We’re dealing with some attitude issues, but it is hard to pin-point it as transition, outside influences or just pure tiredness. (Any advice out there for elementary attitudes?)
- Traditional School Philosophy. I lean more towards a Charlotte Mason education and public school is very traditional…obviously. My kids aren’t reading as much or playing outside as much or exploring subjects and interests as much. Lots of worksheets and writing sentences. Con.
- Money. Though the education is free, school clothes and school supplies are not. Nor are school lunches. Or water bottles that don’t leak.
- Outside influences. Though our children normally live in a different religious context and not in a ‘cultural Christian bubble’, they still lead a fairly sheltered life when it comes to exposure to things we deem inappropriate. Our oldest asked us why sticking out the middle finger is a bad thing last week. Hmmm…
- Pressure by school for participation. If not careful one can become over obligated with all the opportunities to volunteer, family nights, curriculum nights and fund-raisers. I have a gift of being able to say “no”, but I know others may feel guilt and an obligation to peddle wrapping paper and chocolate covered pretzels to all your loved ones and friends (and yes, the fundraiser booklet has already been sent home).
That’s just a few pros/cons. I actually had to stop myself because more kept coming to mind. I am sure that my lists will continue to grow as the school year beats on. We are learning a lot about our family and our children through our public school experience. It isn’t for everyone and it may not ever be for us again, but for now we are confident in our decision to enroll our kiddos. I am sure I will have more to share after the semester is over.
How about you? Do you have your own pro/con list? Please share your wisdom in the comments below!!