Schooling Overseas- Making the Decision (Final Post)

(Sorry,  no Tuesday topic today! I wanted to wrap up this series and then plan to put the blog on hold as we all take some time to reflect on Jesus , the cross, and His triumph over sin this Easter week.)

As we’ve discussed a bit over the past week, there are quite a number of options available for missionaries today to provide quality education for their children. We touched on the major ones, but even within each category there are a number of variations. I wanted to close this series by sharing some of the things that various experts and wise missionary moms had to share about how to make this important decision.

Choosing how to school your children:

-The number one piece of advice offered by all of the moms and Christian sources that I consulted to prepare this series emphasized the critical importance of prayer. The decision about schooling is one of the  things that will have the most profound influence on your child’s experience growing up. It will shape who they become in many ways. Our children have been given to us as our primary responsibility during this period of life and we must be certain that we are clearly following God and looking out for our children’s best interest in this decision.

-As you pray about this decision, ask God to help you determine your primary end goals and desires for your child’s education. It may be helpful to write down your personal education philosophy to come back to from time to time in order to make sure your child’s education is achieving for them what you feel to be most important. Having done this might also help you determine when a change might be necessary.

– The second most frequently offered piece of advice is to look at each child individually as you make this choice, and to re-evaluate each year (or more often if needed) to see if the option you have chosen is still working well. What works well for one child might not work well for another, even if they are in the same family. It is important to know our children well and to understand their strengths, weaknesses, personalities, learning styles, needs, and preferences, and to take these seriously into account. Also, what works well one year might not work well the next. Have frequent and open dialogue with your child about school, how they are feeling about it, and what is taking place at school (that is if school isn’t at home).

-When appropriate (as in the older years, especially with a change being made), make the decision with your child, weighing their feelings and preferences heavily and listening to them well.

– Don’t be afraid to try! If you think that and option might suit your child well but aren’t 100% sure, it might be worth trying out, as long as you hold onto the possibility that you might need to make a change down the road. Give it a good try though because the period off transition is always difficult.

-Study your options well. Do some research to learn about the various pros and cons of the option(s) that you consider, and try to find out about the benefits that the child will receive from this option as well as the struggles, both current and future, that they may encounter as a result. No option is perfect, so it is important to be well informed in order to make this decision.

-Don’t make your decision based on someone else’s. Resist the temptation to do what everyone else is doing if you know in your heart that it is not what is best for your particular family.

-If your child’s schooling option is in English and your host country speaks a different language, make sure that your child has the opportunity to learn the host language if you plan to be serving long-term in this location. This can happen both formally and informally, but often some formal instruction is needed at some point.

-If your children are schooled in a non-Christian environment especially, make sure you have open dialogue about the things that they are learning in school. Even the things that are counter-Christian can be good learning experiences if parents are talking openly with their children. These can be teaching moments where you share with your children how life with Christ is different than life apart from Him and how following God means not following the ways of the world. Also, having these discussions will help make sure you catch things that are simply unacceptable.

-It is often a temptation for missionaries to fear that their children are not receiving the best education possible. Though we must make sure that they acquire what knowledge is necessary to function in life and to have the opportunity for further education, we also must remember the incredible things that our children have the blessing of learning and experiencing just in every day life! Life in another culture provides an education that cannot be acquired apart from experience, and our children will have the blessing of a broader worldview among many other things as a result of their lifestyle.

What other pieces of advice do you have to share with your fellow moms about how to make decisions about school, whether for the first year or in the process of re-evaluation throughout the years? Do you have any other questions to ask one another?

Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH to all of the moms who filled out surveys to help me prepare these posts. You each taught me so much and I know you blessed others as well!

(Other resources used for this post:  Campus Crusade for Christ’s 2006 X-track education options resource handbook; Third Culture Kids by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken)


6 Responses to “Schooling Overseas- Making the Decision (Final Post)”

  1. 1 susanmarie March 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Ashley – I’ve so enjoyed all of these posts on schooling options! They have given me a lot to think about. You put a lot of time into them – thank you!!

  2. 2 @ngie March 30, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Great series Ashley. Good job.

    I would only like to add that part of the decision that indeed begins with prayer would be to identify the end goal. Maybe even write down your personal educational philosophy. For example ours is: Learn to love, Love to learn. As long as we are accomplishing that – or at least headed on that direction then we are happy. It also helps us to make adjustments when the need for change is evident.

    Again – super job everyone.

  3. 3 Ashley L March 31, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Excellent point Angie! I am going to stick it into this post later today so it stays there for anyone who reads this series in the future. I know someone mentioned it for homeschooling, but you are so right that it is pretty hard to make a good decision overall without defining concretely where we are heading!

  4. 4 Sarah March 31, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Ashley (and everyone else who contributed), THANK YOU so much for this wonderful series on schooling options! The topic was so relevant for my family right now, and we will be referring back to these posts in the coming weeks as we make a decision about what to do this fall!

  5. 5 Ashley L April 1, 2010 at 3:56 am

    I am so glad it was helpful! I learned a lot myself and all of the people with experience who share surveys really got me thinking! I’ll be praying for your decision making process, Sarah, right after I post this comment!

  1. 1 Weekend Links « Busy@Home Trackback on April 17, 2010 at 7:11 am

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