Swimming Against the Tide: Why I am homeschooling.

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Homeschool Blogging Carnival hosted by Lisa at The Squishable Baby and Keisha at Unschooling Momma. This month our participants are introducing their homeschools and styles.

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It seems like only yesterday I was pondering whether or not to homeschool my kids: what would it mean for us? Would I be patient enough? Could I, a non qualified teacher, teach them? Did we have a big enough support network? Would I ever get to pee alone again?

Wait, it was only yesterday and I am petrified.

My little family currently resides in Bangkok, Thailand. I am franco-american and lived in the UK for many years. My husband, aka el jeffe is Mexican and we have two daughters: Sweet Pea just five and little Plum, who will be three on September 1st.

I’ve just received the emails from the kindergarten and Pre-K schools confirming I’ve officially withdrawn my children. It felt so final that I broke into a cold sweat and nearly fainted. I wish I were exaggerating.

There are many reasons why I am choosing to homeschool but they aren’t the two main ones I typically read about. Most of the time you either hear about families for whom it is a faith-based decision or kids not thriving in school. I want a secular education for my kids – and that for me means they learn about all the major global religions. My two girls overall both love school and this is probably the hardest thing about pulling them out. It would be so much easier if, like me, they were hating the experience.

So why am I doing it? The main reason is totally selfish. I am suddenly incredibly aware of my mortality and I know my kids will only worship the ground I walk on for a few more years so I’d like to spend as much of that time as possible with them, harnessing that adoration, instead of only getting the rushing on either side of school. Traffic in Bangkok means I have to get them up at 6am and they are gone by 6.55.  By the time they get back in the afternoon, we have time for a tiny bit of tired play and the whole dinner, bath, book routine.  During these windows, I frequently feel like I am tap dancing in a minefield as their exhaustion makes them emotional explosive time bombs. Ultimately, I get the two slices of bread and none of the delicious filling.

bangkok traffic via scottygraham.blogspot.com

Another factor is the a question of value for money. Living in Bangkok, my only option is to send my kids to private school. These schools are extremely expensive catering generally to an élite expat crowd, bankrolled by their companies and the schools take full advantage of this including outrageous sign-up fees leaving us mere working mortals struggling to educate our children. Maybe if we were a monolingual family, I would have considered local Thai school but my kids are already growing up with English, French and Spanish and it just didn’t make sense to add Thai to that. Also the Thai educational approach is far from what I want for my kids.

Freeing up these financial resources allows me to organize a whole host of educational trips and activities including extended stays with Abuela in Mexico and their Papoo and Yaya in France and the US. It kills me that my mother in law hasn’t seen my eldest since she was 8 months old and has never met our second girl.

As far as approaches – well it is a little too early to say what we will end up doing but my plan at this point is loosely following a waldorf-based curriculum called Oak Meadow but without signing up for the teacher support at this stage. To this, I’d like to incorporate aspects of the Well Trained Mind approach. I am big on the classics and laying foundations. As far as maths go, I am hesitating between Singapore math and Montessori math. I am in Asia and hear so many good things about the former but from what I can tell so far SM and MM are actually very similar in their approaches so it may just be a case of which materials are easier for me to source. Of course all of these are ideas and only time will tell what ends up working for us.

Jumping into the deep end.

I mentioned earlier, I am petrified but ready to jump into the deep end. The courage I’ve found has come less from within but in the knowledge of the incredible support group I’ve been able to find here in Bangkok. Homeschooling is not common here but I’ve been fortunate to find a small group of families with kids of similar ages who are already homeschoolers or starting out like me.

And as I sat there, nauseous and nervous, having just read the withdrawal emails, my daughter, unbeknownst to her, shared an experience that sealed the deal. She was a little upset, wanting to draw a fish but insisting she didn’t know how. When I tried to encourage her, she explained to me that a teacher had told her that she hadn’t drawn her fish right.

Who tells a 4-year-old that their fish isn’t right? Apart from the millions of different types of fish and sea creatures I am pretty sure the teacher isn’t familiar with, WHO tells a FOUR-year-old  their fish ISN’T RIGHT?

Talk about killing creativity and sowing the seeds of insecurity and doubt. No way, you are not getting my money or more importantly, my child.

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Visit The Squishable Baby to see how you can participate in the next Homeschool Blogging Carnival. hmschool blogging button

 

Please take the time to read the submissions by other Carnival participants:

 

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24 thoughts on “Swimming Against the Tide: Why I am homeschooling.

  1. Thank you for sharign your experiences! And there’s nothing wrong with making selfish decisions! And also, this is clearly one that benefts your family. I have considered homeschoolingbut it’s extremely hard to do in the Netherlands. I will have to do it anyway with Polish… so we have chosen an international school for our children but I wish there was a bigger understanding for homeschooling families in Europe- in Germany it’s illegal adn the police can come after you if you homeschool or if your child misses school! And I like your argument of being able to schedule trips and outings, with the school schedule it’s not that easy and we liked to go on vacation in autumn since we need the sun and it’s cheaper and not as crowded. My girl starts school in September so now we won’t be able to go whenever we feel like going. Oh well, difficult choices! Good luck with the homeschooling project, and keep us posted!

    • Thanks Olga! Any positive words are music to my ears having been on the receiving end of a fair amount of thinly veiled shock and horror.

      It’s disappointing to hear that some countries make it illegal. I understand requiring kids to take national mandatory tests to ensure they aren’t being neglected but not even permitting parents that choice is shocking to me.

      Good luck with the Polish and who knows maybe with time, other countries will loosen up!

  2. Wow, good for you girl. This is huge, but I’m sure you can do it and it will be so great for all 3 of you to spend this time together. My good friend works with homeschooling parents and children in San Diego. Let me know if you want me to connect with her for resources.

  3. though i only know you as Javier’s wife – i am beyond confident that you will do an awesome job homeschooling your children….plus, your kids have turned out LOVELY :) (so far. heehee.) anyway. clearly that “teacher” has never seen or heard of a blob fish. now, no fish can ever be drawn wrong after you’ve seen THAT fish. take care!

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  6. Yay! I’m so glad you are part of the carnival and I’m so glad you are homeschooling and I’m always thrilled to find another secular homeschooler. I had a lot of similar fears when we started and a year later I’m feeling much more confident. One of the nice things about homeschooling is that if something isn’t working – you can change it. If you haven’t found it yet, you might want to check out http://www.secularhomeschool.com/content/ – there are some really supportive homeschoolers there and they have helped me a lot – especially with curriculum questions. I’m really looking forward to following along with you.

    • That means so much to me. It was hard really to take the leap with most families in SE Asia -well at least Singapore and Thailand- being faith based. I don’t mind diversity in my support group but I had a hard time imagining myself as the only secular homeschooler. I really admire you and the way you are raising your kids. And I am grateful that in our days, we have this incredible online support group. Looking forward to sharing our journeys! And who knows, maybe someday, I can bring the girls on an extended ‘field trip’ and come visit!

  7. That would be such a fun field trip! It’s the same here with most of the homeschoolers I meet being Christian and I agree diversity is great but it is so nice to have someone else with similar beliefs in your support circle. Curriculum is especially difficult for me because secular options are much more limited and, since I buy mostly from the States, I have to buy sight unseen but they are available and there is always someone you can find online who has used them and can give you some feedback. I’m thrilled that our kids are similar ages and we’ll be able support each other.

  8. WOW look at that street. That is incredible

    I hate the travel here in DC – so I can’t imagine doing something like that in Bangkok. Man!

    The money was one of the reasons we decided to homeschool. The good private schools are like a college education. We couldn’t even afford the cheapest of the good options. I definitely hear you on that!

    You are incredible. What difficult choices you had to make. I love how you explained them and your reasons.

    You are right, there are not a lot of secular options out there. The only secular option we have – is math, but for that, we are going the pretty classic route. We use the Saxon Math curriculum – which is very nice. There is a lot of repetition – maybe to an annoying degree. Just last week, my son was like, why do I see the same thing 4 times. It’s so that he learns it. It’s a good program.

    I am so glad you participated. I will be better with tutorials and such next time.

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  10. That is awesome that you have a good support group..especially just starting out. As a 7+ year homeschool veteran I tell you this. Breathe. Trust your motherly instincts. You will learn how they learn best. There will be rough days but the good days far outnumber the challenging ones. (and I’m saying that even being a mama to a child with special needs) Have fun. I know you will!!

  11. Oh bravo Coco – they are lucky girls! You will do a fantastic job with your smart creative mind and big heart. Yes yes yes!

  12. I’m happy to be one of those other families that you mention that are taking this scary ride with you in Bangkok. Yes, what a scary decision! But everyday something comes up and I say to myself, “yes, I’m glad I’m homeschooling.” I can even say that now without my heart starting to race. We’ve come a long way since our first random chat at our mutual friend’s. (By the way, I think we’re getting to her….)

    • I am sad you aren’t staying longer in Bangkok but excited to have our first year together. I too have the same thing where daily my decision to embark in this adventure is reinforced!

      (And yes I heard some noises from her about O…!)

  13. What a wonderful and insightful post on the fears of homeschooling. I commend you for taking on the education of your children in your hands. It’s looks like you’re right on track. Good luck on your homeschooling endeavors, and I’m looking forward to your future posts. :)

  14. Hi, I am contemplating homeschool, well more than contemplating, making moves to actually do it now this year…kids in final term.

    My question to those in the know, where is a good forum for homeschooling where I can ask really stoopid questions and get answered.

    If it matters, we will be looking for either English or Australian based system, but mixing things up a lot.

    So if anyone knows of such a site, please let me know, much appreciated.

    • Funnily enough I am currently building such a site. That said, there are a number of homeschooling facebook groups including one that focuses on the Australian system. I hope this is helpful! If you have trouble finding it, email me via contact me and I’ll dig it up for you. Good luck and congrats!

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