Thursday, April 10, 2008

Schooling on the Field

Missionaries face difficult choices when deciding how to educate their school age children. Depending on the field, there are few options--either send your children to secular school or home school. Most countries do not have Christian schools, unless you start one yourself.

We know missionaries who chose to send their children to secular, public schools because it will help their children learn the language quickly, they will make friends and learn the culture, and will have an easier time later on getting into colleges, etc. should they decide to remain on the field during that time of their life. It is true, that in most countries you must follow their system of education if you plan on attending their universities and trade schools. On the negative side, your children will be fed a steady diet of humanism, evolution, and be taught from a world view that is anti-God. You will also have to be constantly looking out for the undesirable socialization and negative attitudes that your child may develop as a result from spending so much time around children who have not been taught the same moral values that you have tried to instill in them at home.

Missionaries often choose to home school their children while on the field. Many times it is the only option. We are homeschooling our two daughters, and use the Bob Jones University DVD home school curriculum. Their teachers present all the information to the student, and bring a wealth of additional material to the home school classroom. I basically oversee the work and am there to answer questions, grade papers, and keep records. The DVDs have been a tremendous help to me, keeping us on track in the midst of traveling across the country on deputation, moving disruptions, etc. We also supplement the DVDs with music lessons, art projects, homemaking skills, physical recreation, and most importantly, Bible reading and family devotions. Our girls are learning the Spanish language as well, not as quickly as they would in a public school, but that is one of the trade offs you have to make--and we are looking into summer language programs for children.

Europe is where the United States was back in the 1970's on its cultural acceptance of home schooling. It is not very common to home educate here, and not very well understood. I myself wasn't very open minded about home schooling until I taught at a Christian school myself, and observed what was going on in the classroom on a day to day basis. Of course some schools are better than others and there are some really well run Christian schools. Home schooling is not for everyone, and we thank the Lord for good Christian schools.
I often find myself in a defense mode--continually defending why we choose to school our children at home here on the field. Even among the few Christians here it is not very well received. Because it is something they have never seen before, they can't imagine anything different than sending their children to public schools. Hopefully we can help people broaden their minds to see the many benefits in raising and educating children in the home environment.

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