The Expat Homeschool Dilemma - Costa Rica LifeStyle
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When moving overseas there are a lot of things to consider, and for families with school age children, one of the biggest issues is that of education. How will you ensure that your child has at least the same quality of education that he or she would receive if you remained in your own country? When thinking about this, at some point the possibility of homeschooling will probably cross your mind. Would it work for you and your family? Consider some of the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling below before purchasing real estate or property in Costa Rica.
The first thing you would need to consider is the legal situation of homeschooling in the country you are moving to. Some countries will support the idea, others will not. Will your child legally fall under the country’s control, which means you will be bound by the laws surrounding education in that country? If you retain your current citizenship, your child was not born in that country and you are not a permanent resident of that country, then it’s possible that your child’s education falls outside their jurisdiction. Your own embassy in the new country will be able to give you guidance on this, along with the contact information for homeschooling organizations available within that country.
Once you have discovered that you can, if you choose to do so, legally homeschool your child in your new country, you need to think about whether or not this is best for your child. The answer to this lies often with the age of the child. A younger child may fare better than an older one as younger children will get more teacher time than older ones, and this will be crucial if they need to learn the language as well as the school curriculum. Younger children are also more adaptable and will soon fit into the class social structure. Older children, particularly those who tend to be introvert, may find it more difficult to break into the established social network of the class. A huge advantage of homeschooling in this situation is that once you have a curriculum to follow, your child can continue their education in the new country without having to worry about the other children in the class. A disadvantage of homeschooling is that they will miss out on much of the younger culture of their new county because of lack of contact with children of their own age. You could however overcome this by enrolling your child in a youth organization such as Scouts or an extra-curricular sport where they will meet other children on a more informal level.
You also need to think about how you will adapt to being your child’s teacher. How will you cope if your child decides they can’t be bothered to learn, and refuses to do the school work? Do you have the patience to coax your child back to their desk? One of the biggest disadvantages of homeschooling is that full responsibility for your child’s education will fall on your shoulders, and it will be completely up to you to ensure that your child is motivated to learn.
Although you have the advantage of being able to decide what hours in your week will be school hours, you will need to establish a firm routine in order to complete the required work each week so that your child’s education stays at an appropriate level. Another big advantage is that you can use different methods of teaching, such as field trips, that schools are often not resourced enough to fund.
Homeschooling could prevent both you and your child learning the new language as quickly as you would if your child went to school among local children, and you were able to get out more among the local population. However, the trade off here is that you and your child will have a unique opportunity of spending time exploring the world and its issues together as you work through the educational curriculum.
If you are legally permitted to do so, the decision to homeschool your child is one you need to make yourself. Just because it works, or not, for someone else does not mean you will have the same result. Talk to your child, to their current teachers, and honestly assess your own personality before making a decision. You could even consider a trial period of homeschooling before the school term begins to see how it goes for both of you. Whether you initially decide to homeschool or not, keep in mind too that you can always change your mind if you find things don’t work out how you thought.
Resources for homeschooling:
Homeschooling 101 – http://bit.ly/homeschooling101
Home Education Magazine – http://www.homeedmag.com
Top 50 homeschooling blogs - http://www.collegedegree.com/library/financial-aid/top-50-homeschooling
Homeschooling resources - http://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/
Homeschooling Community – http://www.homeschool.com
About the Author: Steve Linder is the marketing manager for Pacific Lots of Costa Rica www.PacificLots.com
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