Setting Priorities and Planning Your Child’s Education
(Includes extensive excerpts from an EduCare article by Steve Bryant entitled “Long-term Planning.”)
Some of you may have seen the EduCare article on long-term planning. I want to share the highlights with you of this excellent article. Information at the end will show you how to subscribe to EduCare, if you would like. Mr. Bryant received a new resource called “The Strategic Swerve,” designed to persuade families to make long-term plans for ensuring longevity of their work abroad. Bryant writes:
The DVD looks particularly at the possibility of parents staying in the host country or returning there after a longer home leave when the children re-enter for higher or further education. For many families this has marked the end of working abroad.
Bryant points out that this may be right for some, but others just need more support to continue living overseas. He encourages families to make long-term plans and work through a series of questions during the application and orientation process. The suggested discussion questions (and some of my own) are as follows:
1) What are your realistic hopes and expectations for your children in the short, medium, and long term future?
2) How important is it for your children to learn their mother tongue?
3) How important is it for your children to learn the language of the host country?
4) How do you foresee meeting these goals?
5) Have you as a couple read any materials on the pros and cons of multilingualism?
6) Where will your children study for higher or future education?
7) How possible is re-entry to the passport country if the mother tongue skills are limited?
8) What kind of need is there for the mother tongue; is it essential for continuing education, or is it just needed for extended family conversation?
9) How important is it emotionally and psychologically to the parents that the children acquire good mother tongue skills and good parental culture understanding?
10) How important is adaptation to the host culture?
11) Do the expectations for children change as they get older – e.g. more emphasis on local adaptation when younger and more on passport culture re-entry needs as they get older? How can these objectives be best met?
Bryant points out that “Long-term planning enables parents to think about how to avoid unnecessary abrupt changes of plan or drifting from one educational ‘solution’ to another.” He mentions some families that drift from one home education program to another without having a good understanding of end goals. He also mentions families that do what others are doing or have done without considering what is best for their family (this includes use of national schools, international schools, and boarding schools, as well). I would add that education plans should be established keeping each individual child in mind. While it is important to discuss these questions and set goals, it is important to revisit these goals annually, considering what is best for you and a particular child each year (always keeping the end goal in mind).
Bryant points out that in planning well, we need to avoid excessive rigidity:
It could be, for example, that a family plans to send the children to a local school for the first 4 years to develop good local language skills and to integrate; follow this with 5 years of home education from a pre-chosen supplier; then send the children to boarding school for the last 3 years to guarantee higher education entrance qualifications. This is a good plan in principle, but there could be problems en route. The local school may prove to be too demanding socially for a timid child or the academic standards and teaching style may be detrimental. In such cases there needs to be flexibility and a plan B in place – with such young children it would make sense to be fully aware of a viable home education alternative, or maybe a smaller local private school. The home education provider’s material may be unsuitable or home education may just not work well for the family concerned. Again a “plan B” is needed – alternative sources of materials, finding more support services to improve the home education experience, returning to the local school, joining with other home educating families in a co-op or earlier boarding could all be possible solutions. The key is to plan with flexibility and have the reserve options in mind should things not work out as well as hoped.
Bryant also point out the importance of planning and preparing for re-entry. We have some previous Education News articles on our website if you would like to view them. He especially mentions the importance of connecting teens to school, youth group, and peer culture where they will be attending for college or boarding school. This, he mentions, is made easier with e-mail, skype, and website searches. Bryant says, “Maintaining such contact is very important in its own right as so many TCKs get cut off to some extent from their extended family and passport country peers, but it is also hugely beneficial as part of long-term re-entry planning so that they don’t “return” to strangers.”
Bryant makes a final point concerning planning with the “needs of the whole family in mind.” It is important to at least take a serious look ahead to what years you might go stateside and how long of a time you plan to stay in the states (or your home country). Think ahead to when you might need to utilize that time for showing teens around college campuses….as well as when you might need to be there for registering your son or daughter and seeing them off on their own journey.
If anyone would like a copy of the Flechas DVD called “The Strategic Swerve” you can contact the Bryants on SteveGill@mkea.freeserve.co.uk. The DVD gives a good introduction to long-term planning that is useful as a discussion starter for any family or to explain the need to make plans to friends and extended family members.
You also may want to read:
Helping Children Set Priorities (Empowering Your Child with Prioritization Skills)