Friday, February 7, 2014

"Will Isaiah attend school in Papua?"

"So, your family is moving to Indonesia for three years? What an exciting adventure!" begins the conversation.
"Yes, its been a long time coming so we are really looking forward to it." My eager smile and the day dreamy look in my eyes are genuine. Even just a month away from leaving I still can't believe that we are actually going.
"I suppose there is a school there and lots of children for Isaiah to play with?"
"There is an international school, but it's quite a bit above our budget so we are going to home school."
And here the conversation usually moves on to four common questions. These questions seemed to be a good topic for a mommy blog post, so here they are...And if you have any that I didn't cover, but are curious about please ask!
Oh, wow! How does that work?
If we were living in the US or the UK, Isaiah would likely start a half day 3-4year old pre-school program this September. Since we'll be living in Papua for three years, we'll home school for pre-school, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.

Isaiah's pre-school home school year does not include any lessons. We are bringing a beautiful collection of children's literature and a couple games.
Goals for pre-school are:
1. Spend lots of fun quality time with Papi and Mommy: reading books, playing, travelling, meeting new friends, helping with chores, etc.
2. Learn Indonesian culture and language: playing, making new friends, shopping, etc.

That's it. Forget about teaching colors, shapes, counting and letters (actually he's picking up a lot without formal teaching anyway). Priority number one is keeping close as a family and adjusting to life in a foreign country. Lessons can wait a year.

For Pre-K and Kindergarten we purchased curriculum from Sonlight. This is a widely used literature based program that seems like it will be a good fit for our little story lover. We already have and love the children's books from Sonlight's pre-school collection. Even if Isaiah were in school, I'd want these books for a home library.  

Will there be other children to play with?
Our home will be in a regular neighbourhood (not on a compound) and we hope there will be plenty of children living close around us. We'll also attend church and be intentional about looking for other opportunities and places to make friends. If you've met Isaiah you know that he is extremely outgoing. My bet is he will be quicker to find friends than I will!

Are you going to have to be at home all the time?
This is one of the most beautiful aspects of home schooling. We are not confined to one place for the majority of the day. I am hopeful that the flexibility home schooling provides will give me the opportunity to be involved with different events and groups outside of our home.  

Do you have any experience with children's education?  
Only my own. I was home schooled until 15 years old and then attended a public high school. I have many fond memories of my home schooling years.

Having been home schooled myself, I always assumed I'd home school my own children. I am glad to have the next three years to do so with Isaiah. Still, sometimes there is an overwhelming sense of "Oh no, I could really screw this up!" But then again I think the whole of parenting sometimes leaves me shaking with a sense of the immense responsibility forming a little life brings.

Perhaps in the future Isaiah will attend a traditional school. For now, a little shaky but full of hope, we embark on the adventure of schooling at home.

And if you have any advice, fun memories, wish-you'd-knowns, or wish-you-hads, from your own schooling (at home or otherwise) experiences I'd love to hear them.