I feel strangely bereft. Things have not turned out as I planned. I am embarking on what seems like a huge responsibility and commitment. I hope my decision is indeed the best one.
I always planned to send my daughters to school like any other child here in Ecuador, and intended to teach them English at home so that they learn to read and write the language fluently. I figured at the end of the day the Ecuadorian children learn to read, write and do arithmetic, and that should be sufficient.
But then Tamara started school, and it has made me question everything. I realized they were only teaching her to memorize “facts”, not how to investigate for herself, or assess the accuracy of information. She was marked down for thinking independently; instead of regurgitating the facts she had been fed. She was made to feel she was “the worst in the class at colouring,”and no longer wanted to try. Presentation was all important and the content did not really matter. The resources were so limited that there was little hands on experience while learning and no IT. If I left her in school she would be able to function in Ecuador, but be at a great disadvantage should she wish to pursue further studies or a job in Britain at some point in the future.
There are international schools in Quito – but they are way out of our budget, and would of course require a move and new jobs!
So that left home education.
The more I looked into it, the more enthused I became. I would love to be the one who teaches my daughters. I already love hearing Tamara read and knowing that it was me that taught her how to do that. I love sharing a frozen planet clip about penguins with Emily and hearing her telling her granny all about it later. To be the one who teaches and guides them, helps them to discover new facts and new skills, ensures that their learning is wholesome, important, and diverse – what could be more amazing than that? And what an exciting age we live in; I have received sufficient education myself to be able to teach them to a high level, and the resources to do so are at my fingertips on the internet.
So why do I feel so scared and unsettled? Maybe it is just such a radical change in our lives. Maybe it is the thought that rather than handing them over to teachers every day… I am now it, for the next ten years or more. Maybe it is the worry they will be missing out by not having the “normal” school experience. Maybe it is the worry maybe the girls will get fed up of me teaching them and not cooperate. Mostly I think it is the fear of the unknown, of yet untested waters, and wondering if it will indeed prove to be a success. There is a niggle in the back of my mind that says I have let them down in some way.
But then I come back to the reasons why I have made this decision. I want my girls to be world citizens. They have a wonderful life here in Ecuador, and we still have work to do here as a family. I want them to grow up aware of the many facets of life on this planet, with hearts to take care of it. I want them to learn to love and serve God and those around them. I do want them to have the opportunity academically to study the subjects that interest them at the level they wish to, where they wish to. I believe the best way of combining the precious life experiences that living here gives them, with an excellent academic and personal education is to take them out of school and to teach them myself at home.
So I will not feel sad when Tamara has her final day at school this week. I will not think that it is an ending. Rather I will look forward to the new beginning and exciting world of discoveries and possibilities that lie ahead of us.