In today’s world, there are many options available for children’s education. However, not all options are available in all places where SIL families work. Parents need to carefully consider their children’s education needs as they consider an assignment with SIL. Below are some suggestions for parents to consider.
Parents first need to know what their core values are and how that will affect the schooling option they choose. Things to think about include —
- What is important to us? (e.g. wife a part of the work assignment, to be with your children, children able to attend college in the parents’ home country, children at grade level in their schooling, children able to socialize with other children their age, identification with the culture of the host country, children fluent as possible in the national language, etc.)
- Do both of you, husband and wife, share these values?
- What are the non-negotiables?
- Are their any conflicts? Are they resolvable?
- What are the trade-offs?
- Are there any special needs? How will they be met?
- Is the desired location a match? (Does it impose special limitations? Does it have advantages?)
- What are the long term implications of the choice? Will it still be a match in five years? ten years? fifteen years?
Parents need to take time to look thoroughly at the available options for the allocation they are considering for their work. They need to check into any available schools and the quality of those schools. These schools could be national or international. If a school is not close enough to attend and live at home, parents need to consider their options.
Teaching Your Own Children
In many situations teaching your own children might be the most logical option to choose. As parents consider this option for their children it would be helpful to discuss the following topics:
- Age and special needs of children
- Ability of parent(s) and child(ren) to work together
- Time available to parents to teach (who will teach – father, mother or both?)
- Qualification of parent(s) to teach – training, patience, creativity
- Social needs of children
- Positive aspects of parent as teacher (improved relationship with children, more parental control of curriculum)
- Negative aspects of parent as teacher (limitied socialization with other kids, distinction of parent as teacher vs. parent as parent)
- Which type of curriculum would be most beneficial in your situation:
- correspondence program
- online program
- homeschooling curriculum
- Impact on others
- Within the work context
- Within the host country
- Entity policies (wife work policy)
Boarding schools offer students an education similar to what they might get in their passport country. They also have the experience of international peers. This can be a good option for families with older students where the family has been living in a very isolated situation or the circumstances have greatly limited what is available for the student.
As you consider the option of boarding school, there are a number of things to consider for this to be the best option.
- Age and special needs of the child
- Emotional stability of the child
- Social needs of the child
- Personality of the child
- Experience of child being away from parents
- Quality of boarding option
- Discipline style of boarding home parents
- Amount of structure and how that fits with child’s personality
- Quality of other options
- Child’s perception of the option (Do they have friends there? Are they familiar with the school?)
- How often will parents be able to see the child?
- Difficulty of travel
Other Possible Options
Other options to consider might include the possibility of moving to a location where there is a day school your children can attend. However, you need to consider the impact that would have on your work and the quality of the school.
The last option, which no one wants to consider, is when the needs of the children are such that you must consider whether you should return to your home country. This can be a very difficult decision, especially when trying to understand what brought you into your chosen work. You also need to consider the quality of the home country’s education system, and would it really be better for your children?
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