Homeschooling on the Mission Field

homeschoolsurvival

original photo courtesy of office.microsoft.com

We moved to northern Mexico as missionaries two months before our second child was born. We moved across the country to a new place, a new ministry and much further from the convenience of a monthly trip to the border for stateside shopping and US mail pick up two months before our fourth child was born. Though not as primitive as other missionary’s situations, we were now a three day drive from the border, and I felt like we were really on the mission field.

I had trained as a teacher and had taught in the public school system when we were newly married. But, I now found myself with four children under 5, a new ministry, and a new baby, trying to do school at home.  I had been taught to do school at school, with very limited resources and no support group. In fact, in those early months there was a lot more criticism than encouragement.

I soon became very frustrated. I felt like I had to do everything in the teacher’s guides and all the extra activities as well as keep everyone clothed, fed, the house clean, the ministry partners happy, etc.  I also found myself comparing myself to other homeschooling families I knew (states or countries away), and invariably, I just ended up more discouraged.

It was a slow process, but I had to learn to start with prayer, not compare.  I had to un-learn a lot of my one grade level classroom teacher training.

Start with Prayer

I am not one of those early to rise mommas. I do my best work at night, when the house is quiet and I have unlimited undistracted time. I generally get up when my kids get up and we start the day together (read more about our schedule here). But whether it’s before I get out of bed, in the shower, or hanging out the first load of laundry for the day, I always try to commit my day to the Lord, asking Him to help me be a good momma to my children today. I seek his blessing and wisdom for our educational efforts and intercede for my children when there are issues that I know may be a challenge today. I also try to pray with my kids at breakfast or at our Bible time. Without fail, our day goes better when momma commits the day to God early. I definitely recommend it.

Don’t Compare

Comparison is a poison to obedience. <— Tweet This

Aren’t we all so guilty of this? Especially on the mission field, I think it is easy to be deceived into feelings of deprivation because we don’t have the resources, activities or support groups that our friends in the States have. Not having an English public library, or a library at all, the expense of shipping and importing resources, being the only homeschool family for hundreds of miles, not having anyone you can really trust to leave your kids with for the afternoon, or an overnight getaway… these are real struggles for homeschool families living abroad.

When I begin to compare myself with other homeschool moms, in accomplishments, scheduling, activities, resources, support groups, etc. I am dripping poison into the cup of joy that is obedience.

  • Q: What has God called me to do? A: Home educate my children.
  • Q: Where? A: Here.
  • Q: When? A: Right now.
  • Q: Why? A: For his glory.
  • Q: How? A: Through him.

He has promised to supply what I need to do what he has called me to do. (1Thessalonians 5:24). Comparison that breeds discontent in my heart is sin and I must avoid it at all costs.

Un-learn

If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn. -Ignacio Estrada

Homeschooling is not as much school at home as it is home education. I learned the hard way that things that work in a classroom of 20 same aged children do not work so well at the kitchen table with one child when there are 3 smaller ones clamoring for attention or playing loudly around you. You can use some of the same materials, textbooks, and activities of course, but your educational mindset must be different.

Re-learn

We don’t “do school” just to get it done and enjoy the rest of our day. That just creates an aversion to learning. We have certain school-ish things that must be done each day, and we make those a priority, but we don’t stop educating when those activities are complete.

We are learning how to make education happen all day long at our house. We count when we bake together. We sing when we work together. We play and create art together. We read books together. We adventure together. We serve others and do ministry together. And we evaluate regularly. If something isn’t working, we change it up and try something else. Every part of our day is a learning experience. We are educating our children at home through each activity, conversation, response and experience in the home.

Little did I know when we started, that God was setting us up to play a part in the Spanish homeschool movement. In addition to homeschooling our own children, we are active promoters of homeschooling in Mexico, through blogging, speaking, networking, and curriculum development, God is opening some incredible doors for home education in the Spanish speaking world! (Click here to find out how you can make a difference in the Spanish homeschool movement!)

These are busy times, and it’s not easy to homeschool in the midst of it. But for this time and this place, we are confident that this is what God has for our family, and we desire to obey him and glorify him in all that we do.

If you are struggling with homeschooling while living abroad, please leave a comment here or connect with me on Facebook or by email: paradisepraises {at} gmail {dot} com. I would love to hear from you and seek to encourage you.

And remember! Start with prayer. Don’t compare! And don’t be afraid to try new things when something isn’t working.

May God bless YOU today in your homeschool journey!

 

Katie www.ParadisePraises.comKatie Hornor blogs at Paradise Praises and Educando en el Hogar. She is an educator, writer, speaker, missionary wife, and homeschooling mama of 4. She is the author of the ebook Loving You Long Distance: Tips for Strengthening Long DIstance Family Relationships and the Lemonhass Homeschool Curriculum for Spanish speakers. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.