Homeschooling seems to be one of the most popular schooling options among missionary families as it is in many ways compatible with the missionary lifestyle with its flexibility, ability to be tailored to the specific needs and desires of each unique family, the natural blessing of extra time for mom and child to spend together, among other things.
Pros: Education can be customized to the specific needs of the individual child and family, flexibility of schedule that works well with ministry and travel, the added stability of extra time together as a family which can be very beneficial with a transient missionary lifestyle, a safe and wholesome environment for learning and growth, children may progress more quickly than children attending schools away from home, homeschool co-ops provide regular social opportunities while still in an environment designed by the parents, co-ops spread the work between participating families and have many of the advantages of homeschool while perhaps taking less work and also providing the parents some time with the children away from home, inexpensive
Cons: children may feel isolated or separated from the culture if the parents are not intentional to provide social and cultural opportunities, learning of a foreign language is difficult if children do not spend significant time immersed in it, mom will have less freedom during her days for other things which could be a con for some who would desire to have more personal ministry opportunities without children in tow (though many homeschooling moms have shared how much of a blessing it is to be able to have their homeschooling children participate in ministry with them!), extracurricular activities may be lacking depending on location, may be tiring for mom to not have a break, it may be difficult to find adequate resources
Considerations for missionaries considering homeschooling:
-Do your research on curriculums as there are many to choose from with various unique benefits! (Homeschooling moms, do you have any recommendations?)
-It will take much initiative, creativity, and effort to help your child engage in the culture and to learn the host language. Many people have recommended having either a language tutor or sending your child to language lessons for this, as well as being involved in other activities within the culture. Language learning is not likely to come naturally without effort.
- Consider options for social interaction. This is not a difficult need to meet, but it takes planning.
- Consider the resources available to you. A couple of the moms, specifically in the African bush, who shared about their experiences shared that the lack of available resources was a major prohibitor for homeschooling. Make sure to consider what materials you will need, and how you will get them.
-Develop an educational purpose statement to guide you toward your primary goals. This will help you stay on track throughout your homeschooling experience.
-Homeschool co-ops are often a great option where there are multiple homschooling families in the same area. Subjects can be divided among the parents, and the parents not only get the opportunity to teach their own kids, but also get some time with their kids away from home so they can spend time doing other things. It is also a great optionfor many to co-op on certain subjects or activities rather than for all subjects.
- It was mentioned a couple of times by moms that filled out the schooling options survey nevere to say “I could never homeschool!” or to consider yourself unqualified. It was encouraging to hear how God leads and helps moms called to homeschool to succeed in their experience, even with differing personalities and strengths. There are many resources to make homeschooling very doable for almost anyone.
-This can be a great option for kids with learning disabilities who might not have adequate help in other school systems on the field.
Have you homeschooled or are you currently homeschooling? What else would you have to share about this option? If you are looking into homeschooling as an option, what questions do you have? (Those with experience, please feel free to respond to the questions asked!)
Thank you so much to Karen, Phyllis, Gina, E.B., Richelle, Andrea, Nancy, Kara, Tammy, who helped with this post by sharing about their personal experiences with homechooling!
(Other resources used for this post: “Keys to Successful Homeschooling” by: Janna Gilbert, “Home-schooling Cooperative Style- A New Option in MK Education” by Diane Morris, Third Culture Kids by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken)