As most of you know a year ago my family and I came to live in China for the purposes of exposing our child and ourselves to a different culture and to teach English in a country that has opened up to foreigners. The first thing I tell anyone who wants to home school either in the US or abroad is you have to get your information.
Surf the web for information. In my search for my families’ options and in writing this article I saw just how important it is to do some research on the country you are going to. Just because you have passports and visas that isn’t where your preparation for overseas life ends just the opposite, your journey is just beginning. Two websites that I found very helpful are Kid World Citizen http://kidworldcitizen.org/2013/04/11/education-options-for-expat-children/ and E China Cities http://news.echinacities.com/detail/7532-Costs-and-Gains-Schooling-Options-for-Expat-Children-in-China both of these sites offered lots of help in uncoding school for Expat Children.
Yes, there are different options but for us continuing to home school was the best fit. Our son has been home schooled since pre-K so dropping him into a classroom where they didn’t speak his native tongue seemed cruel for us to do.
If your children are young, you intend for this to be a long time commitment, or the school teaches in your language then going the route of public schools is a good thing. However, here in China when children begin middle school the children are beginning to study seriously for the tests that will determine if they can attend university and what their major will be and something to be considered is how will getting that high school diploma overseas be viewed when you child is ready for college.
Another option for an older child might be an International school where the curriculum follows a more globally accepted format and allows for a wide range of options for you student in the post high school arena.
For us home schooling has been a great option we can select the curriculum that best suits the needs of our child while meeting the educational requirements of our home state. As an older child, much of his lesson day is spent in independent study which doesn’t mean he is all alone in the process, but he is mature enough to be accountable for his work.
The last form of education is not as widely used but it has many of the same benefits of home schooling, hire a private teacher or tutor for your child. Parents can still be responsible for some or all curriculum choices and like home school you don’t have to deal with your child being taught something different from your beliefs, you don’t have to worry about the negative aspect of schooling in a traditional manner that are on the news daily and you don’t have the fees associated with school like lunch, transportation, uniform & PE fees, etc.
In all of these options one thing remains true, you need to get and remain connected to the education of your child or children. You are uniquely qualified to know your child and what method of education will work best for your family and your child. While home schooling may not be for everyone as it requires a significant out lay of time a commitment that parents may not be able to make, but if it is and you can live on one income home schooling can be an awesome adventure. You can direct how your child learns and what your child learns. In our home my son’s Chinese tutor not only helps him to learn to communicate with others in our new home but it counts as his foreign language credit. He gets to learn about history in the country we now call home instead of reading in a book about China.
Be prepared, although there are loads of pros to homeschooling, if you are in a country that doesn’t allow the citizens of the country to home school then you may face some opposition to your educational choices. You need to stand firm in your choices to home school and understand that what is said comes from only seeing one way to educate. The bottom line is that you are in a place where you can control what type of education your child gets abroad, stay connected and have great fun. Do check with the country you are going to and find out what your options are for educating your child.