There are many ways to continue your child’s education while traveling and even moving abroad. Your family can learn together, using everything available in your host country, such as museums, zoos, art galleries, street fairs, bookstores, and tours of local archeological sites, monuments, and cultural music, dance, or language classes offered. Homeschooling can be a brilliant solution for many expats.
Remembering Early School Years
I remember back in grade school, where I’d daydream about visiting all the places shown in our textbooks. I wanted to know the people in the photos and experience all the sights in other parts of the world instead of just reading about them.
So when my son was young and suffering with seizure disorders, I hesitated sending him to school, but did it anyway.
He dutifully wore his bicycle helmet every time he was on the playground, which made him a target for kids who didn’t understand his “condition”.
I did, however, need to withdraw him from 1st grade after only 2 weeks in school, because he was too bored to sit in his classroom, and the kids teased him on the playground because of his helmet.
Homeschool Laws Create Accidental Coursework
To comply with homeschooling laws in the state of California over 20 years ago, I went back to college to get my Master’s degree in Human Sciences/Early Childhood Ed and graduated. Along the way I had included my son in the college-level studies I’d brought home, and he had a natural affinity toward my astronomy courses and learning computers, so I taught him as I was learning.
My son was speaking at age one, and by age four, he could recognize the planets of our solar system by name, memorized Bible verses and prayers, understood American states by name, spoke articulately, and had already made many friends in our neighborhood and at church. So, at six years old, when he showed boredom within the classroom, I withdrew him from our prestigious school district, and we began homeschooling.
Homeschooling in California & Baja, Mexico
We held class in the grocery store, comparing nutrition labels and pricing, visited art galleries and nearby science centers, finished library reading programs, enrolled in summer vacation Bible schools, and signed our kids up in children’s academic courses offered in our area. I taught my son how to cook, fish, and we even panned for gold in California streams as part of learning CA history.
My son’s seizure disorder had been completely healed when he was around 10 years old, and we had more freedom to travel and explore without needing to live in proximity to emergency hospitals. This allowed us to move to Baja, Mexico. Once there, we tried American online courses, private tutoring, learned Spanish, lived the Mexican beach culture, cooked traditional Mexican foods, learned shore fishing, and made some great new friends.
Homeschooling Leads to Apprenticeships in Belize
We tried remote classrooms, private tutoring, volunteering, and eventually, in 2015, we moved to Belize, where apprenticeships were being offered to my son as part of our involvement with various mission teams.
His homeschooling has opened up learning opportunities for building and learning all phases of home construction.
When interrupted by the COVID quarantines of 2020, we learned about compassionate giving and helping, along with missionary friends, buying, packaging, and delivering food to local families who were going without.
As my son’s homeschooling continues, he will help to host missionary groups coming to our area by cooking for them, which he enjoys the most, and driving them to local destinations and attractions.
Notice in the photos how the crew uses essential problem-solving skills to fit in the boards, and finish construction at the “Christ for the Nations Institute Belize”.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t homeschool, because you can!
Expats Can Homeschool Successful Children
Allow creativity and your family’s curiosity about life in a new home country to guide you to your next adventure. Use every exploration as a teaching moment, as you learn along with your child. Your children will be happier; parents are a child’s first and best teachers. Studies show that homeschooled children are more culturally aware than those who learn about foreign lands studied merely from a textbook because they’re actually living and experiencing the culture. The world becomes their classroom.
That’s not to say kids won’t perform well in regular schools. But especially for the expat who may not have confidence in the foreign school system where students may also face language barriers, homeschooling is a workable and smart alternative.
Google Link: Academic Performance The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.) Study: Ray, 2017.
Where will you put your homeschooling skills into action? Let us know about the fun your Expat family is having!
by: Cheri Majors, M.S.