For years, Nate and I have been able to put off the education question. After all, we had no idea where we would end up long-term, and we had no idea what the school options would be in whatever city/country we settled in, plus our kids were too young anyway. It was easy to just sit back and say, “Well, we’ll just have to wait and see when the time comes.”
Then suddenly we were settled in Arequipa and our kids were getting bigger. As we started working through what we would like our family’s home-life/ministry-life balance to look like, the school question just kept coming back to the forefront as an important factor in those plans. It was time to tackle it.
For an expat, that’s a more complicated decision than I expected, and there are many more factors involved than I had ever realized. Then we threw Luís’ developmental needs into the mix, and it became a big convoluted mess. In the end, a few things stood out as deciding factors:
- the state of the Peruvian public schools (which PISA ranks as #65 out of 65 countries tested every few years)
- the cost of the Peruvian private schools and international schools
- the need for substantial supplementing of things not taught here (US history, English reading & writing, English lit, etc) in order to keep them on track for what would be required by a US college
- the fact that our life as missionaries often requires travel
- the fact that we have to return every few years to the US for several months at a time to give reports attend to agency-related issues, and update our supporters.
- the fact that I don’t want the kids to have to be in school all day long when family visits
- the fact that Luís needs some extra one-on-one attention and help that he isn’t going to find in schools here
Taking all those things into consideration, it became pretty clear that homeschooling would be the best option for us right now in this season of life. Maybe not forever, but at least for now.
Of course, there are logistics involved with that too, because finding the materials here is next to impossible (especially in english), and having things shipped costs a FORTUNE and isn’t even guaranteed to arrive…which means any visitors will be doubling as school-supply mules as well. Sorry about that. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!) Plus, I still want the boys to retain the spanish they’ve learned so far and continue on to fluency, so I will have to add in lots of cultural activities and opportunities to be immersed in spanish (such as a soccer team) in addition to our church activities and inviting people into our home.
And there’s that tiny little issue that those 3 boys have a slightly extroverted mother who tends to get stir crazy in the house after awhile, and there aren’t exactly homeschool co-ops here… so I’m going to have to find a way to do this without completely LOSING MY MIND.
But, on the upside, I’ve always been someone who likes to learn. I loved school (which is why I kept going back and may go back again one day in the future, who knows?), I love to read and still read anything I can get my hands on, and I love teaching. All of those things combined make me think that this will be a fun journey as long as I use a literature-saturated curriculum and can figure out a way to do it without feeling confined to the house all the time. (Field trips, playdates, and experiential learning, anyone?) Oh, and as long as Nate understands that HE will be teaching higher math.
Really, though, I’m not too worried about it right now. My kids are still really young, barely kindergarten age, so most of “school” consists of a few basic things and a whole lot of life skills. I’m just as concerned with teaching them bathroom hygiene as I am with teaching them to read at this point.
So I looked at a bunch of curriculum options, ordered a few little things to get us started, and we will spend the next year or two figuring out what kind of groove fits us best and working on some home routines that might help us down the road when we start the real stuff. Because kindergarten is supposed to be laid back and fun, right? I hope so.
For a bunch of reasons, we decided to go ahead and get started now rather than wait until the Peruvian school year ends in December. They’re finishing out the month, and after that, the new journey begins….with 3 boys at 3 COMPLETELY different levels and with completely different needs despite being the same age, all of whom are hyperactive and without a smidgen of self control.
We’ll see how this goes.