Using National Schools

Notes from Stacey B after attending the SHARE 2007 conference

{Presenters had three grown kids who went through German school (Bavaria/Munich).  Their educational goals were: to teach them God’s truth, and to live in a way where they saw that lived out daily…and to create a lifelong love of learning.}

ü      Having a philosophy of education and goals, a plan, helps keep you on track (take in strengths, weaknesses of kids, etc.).

ü      Regardless of delegation, parents are primary educators of their children.  Sometimes we have choices or options.  Sometimes you don’t.

ü      Depending on your country’s philosophy (is school to prepare kids for life or for a job?) you may have to tailor what you do. Gather as much information as possible on the philosophy from co-workers, neighbors, the school itself, etc.  Find out how your school feels about bi-lingual, international children.  Find out if they offer language services (ESL type classes).  Look for people at the school who are friendly and helpful as resources.  Arrange tutoring as needed, even for younger children for the transition (i.e. for first graders).

National school benefits:

q       Family remains intact

q       Enhances local relationships

q       Language acquisition—can’t be duplicated

q       Good quality education in many places—don’t be discouraged if you can’t measure it the same way (i.e. learning math in another language, it all plays out later) Studies prove that kids who learn a second language at a young age are smarter!

q       Least expensive (usually)

q       Better interaction with host culture

q       Kids become more comfortable interacting in the host culture (riding buses, etc.)

q       Opens communication channels with host culture parents (because we trust and respect their school)

q       Builds a wider view of the world and other cultures

q       (In the future these kids will be much more empathetic towards “outsiders” in a given situation; also have an advantage in job hunt later as a person with a “global” background)

Challenges:

q       Religious differences from parents (helps you develop apologetics early on in your children…educates them on other religious beliefs close up);

q       Educational philosophy negative-based or simply unknown (positive reinforcement is not used);

q       Total cultural identification with host culture: the “going native” fear…what if they want to go to college in the host country??  What if they become Russian/Turkish/Kazakh??  Watch for their identification if that is a concern.

q       Tensions or rejection due to their nationality (time of war, etc.);

q       Hidden costs (supplies, music lessons, sports not included).

Five Principles for Success

  1. Provide a balance or compensate when needed (i.e. heavy academics need to be balanced out with creative free-play, messy art projects, plays, skits, drama, play dough).  No imagination often in local schools.  Give them blank books to write anything they want if the writing is very regulated.
  2. Be an advocate for your child (go to the teacher and get explanations or clarification when needed—dads need to step up because the fathers are listened to more than the mothers)  don’t hide the fact that your kid is not a local, the more up front you are, the more help you will get.  They will see your interest and commitment in being a partner in the child’s success.  Balance out your advocacy so that it doesn’t negatively affect your kids in others’ perceptions of them.
  3. Raise “respectful rebels”; they can value what they are learning but can also question it.  Leads to great family discussions.  You can teach your kids to respectfully ask for support for false statements.  Anyone academically inclined knows you must support what you say.
  4. Avoid comparisons—we get hurt when we see how our children are treated and remember our nice teachers back home.  Important to do all you can do, to not compare the school, atmosphere, teachers, students with the romantic memory of the wonderful school in the states.  Dirty restrooms even bring this out!  Crush the critical spirit.
  5. Develop a positive attitude—if we are positive about learning and education the kids will pick up on that.  Turn the challenges into problems that need to be solved.  Come alongside, support them and work out a way to do it.  Some things in life are really hard, and really unfair.  Positive reinforcement at school isn’t all it is cracked up to be in the long run (in terms of preparing kids for real life…the tax man isn’t going to tell them he’s really proud of them for how they tried to pay their taxes, and that it is great that they just paid 10%, and that next time we’ll try for 15%!)  The most important thing is for them to know you are behind them…cheer them on as they rewrite their dictation or re-draw their picture to make it “just like the teacher’s”.

Other Ideas:

  • Use local language materials during home leave for homeschooling in order to keep up;
  • Start kids younger in local school if you have a home assignment coming up soon, so that when they come back they can start in that same grade with some amount of familiarity.
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One thought on “Using National Schools

  1. Pingback: Should My Child Attend a National School? « The Education Cafe

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