Did you know that the education of children is the second most frequent reason for kingdom workers to return home? Wondering how your children will be well educated is a worthy concern. Schools are very different overseas, but there are many options to explore.
What options do I have?
The answer to this question has certainly changed over the years. When my parents first took us to the Philippines in 1963 the options were few. They included local schools, boarding schools, very expensive international schools or leaving your children in your home country. Sometimes you were fortunate enough to live in a place with a missionary kid or “MK” school nearby. Some agencies even forced their missionaries to send their kids to a boarding school.
Fortunately, those days are gone. Today the options include a variety of well-developed home school methods, online schools, and co-op schools in addition to the choices already mentioned. Very few families have to send their children to a boarding school before they are in middle or high school. The reasons usually reflect the desire of the child to be involved in sports, social life or advanced curricular classes.
Ease of travel has also made a huge difference for those who must be apart from their children. A school year of separation now looks more like six to eight weeks, until the next longer school break.
Another thing that has improved is the focus on stemming abuse. Due to increased awareness of the possibility of abuse and instituting background checks and other similar actions along with agencies doing a better job of screening those focused on MK education, occurrences of abuse are minimal.
Obviously, the education of your children should still be a major concern. Not all of us are cut out to home school. My wife and I are both teachers but we have failed at homeschooling attempts! Expenses need to be considered for materials, or tuition or travel costs. Your children should never feel that you are sacrificing their welfare for the sake of the work and so, even if their school is in your city, you need to still plan time to be involved at school and be present in their lives, just as you would if you were in your home culture.
In our agency, and most others, our families are our first priority of ministry. Make sure, in picking an agency, that you have talked through with them how they view family and the education of your children.