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Schooling Children Who Travel - Is It Okay To Not Plan Out Their Entire Education?

Michelle Dale - Monday, January 28, 2013

My kids were born in October 2007 and February 2009 both in different countries, and every year, every birthday, they've been living somewhere different. One of the biggest questions or issues that families face when travelling with kids is what are they going to do about their education. It's a fair question - I haven't been too concerned about it to be honest, under the age of 5, there's nothing much they need to learn that some active playtime won't teach them.

I can't tell you the number of times I've been asked what I'll "do" with my children and their education, I've had comments such as "Well you'll have to go back to England or America right?" (they are half English, half American) or "Don't you think they deserve some kind of stability" or "You must stop at some point so they're inside a proper education system." To mention just a few...

Where I stand on the matter.

Whilst I can understand from the perspective of the people making those comments why they made them, I can't say that I agree entirely. As you can see from the video, my 5 year old managed to successfully perform in his school play, it's in a small Greek school here in Crete. He is one of 8 children in his class, and he had been going to school for 4 months when this movie was made at Christmas. He has never been in that kind of environment before, he certainly had never performed in a play before, and he was as nervous as hell (he's a very shy boy by nature, but my daughter is the exact opposite), his head was so hot through sheer nerves we wondered whether he would actually make it through the play, but he did, and I am so very proud of him.

Theo has adapted well to the school, and he is now conversing entirely in Greek, with Greek people. His capability is nothing short of a miracle in my opinion, how he has adapted to his environment. I would never of known he was capable of that, unless I put him in the situation where he could demonstrate it to me.

Swings and Roundabouts.

What I can say is that he does well in school, he may certainly be lacking in some areas, but wow - does he make up for them in other areas, he can adapt and understand things that children in a formal, consistent education in their native language may not be able to comprehend, so the question is not that one way is good and another is bad, it's a question of what the child feels okay about. After all, in my son's case, he knows no different and is more than content with his school, eager to go every single morning and asking me on weekends if he can go too. He loves it, I'm happy with this because he is.

I Just Don't Know... But it's okay.

So here's the thing, he is 5 years old, I don't know how long he'll be here and in all honesty, if we were to change countries, I don't know where we'll be next, but I do know one thing - I'll make the right decision when the time comes, and I don't believe that his changing environment will make him suffer in any way, as parents, we just would never let that happen.

We were considering returning back to Egypt for a time, (this is how we roll, we just think of somewhere to go, and when we feel we'd like to go, then it happens - we make it happen) and I found a wonderful international school run by German people, the school teaches lessons in 3 different languages - can you imagine, a child being raised to speak 3 languages simultaneously, with kids in the class from multiple different countries - does that beat the English education system that some people think I should be moving my kids too? In my opinion - hell yeah it does.

Think Chameleon.

We are very versatile creatures - no matter where we are, what country we're in, and what language we need to adapt to - the most important thing for me at this age is that my kids learn social skills, and can laugh and play like any other child, and know that they have parents who love them and will support them and help them with their education wherever we are needed, wherever we can.

I understand older children are more difficult to place in foreign schools, apparently they don't soak up languages like a 4 and 5 year old, (I don't know, because the only experience I have is with my two kids) but that shouldn't be a reason that holds you back from going out there and experiencing the world and everything it has to offer. As a family, remain tight, stay strong, and do what you feel is right at the time. Watch your kids, you'll know if they are happy or not, nothing is set in stone, everything can change, but one thing you'll need to let go of is that children need to be raised in one type of educational system, in one country. Once you've freed your mind from that thought, there are a world of possibilities out there to design your own children's education.

My Takeaway So Far...

The one thing I have realised from my experience, is that none of us know what our children are capable of, unless they are given the opportunity and the environment to demonstrate it. Pushing our children is something we naturally do as parents, generally for two reasons, fear of them being behind, or wanting them to be the best they can be - but consider whether the pushing is in their best interests as little people developing character and values, or to satisfy yours...

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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