Our life has had dramatic and unexpected changes this week. For many years we have homeschooled our children off and on...mostly on.... We're not the super-achiever homeschoolers you read about sometimes, but just the quite ordinary variety. We struggle with motivation, math, motivation, attitudes, motivation. We've been very blessed living here with families that have moved in over the past 3 years that have added to our number and we've had a small but effective, close-knit homeschool group.
Last week, the husband of one of our homeschool moms was hired as the academic director at a new-this-year private boarding school here on island. The school's target market is Korea, China, and Japan--"send your children here and they'll receive an American-style education as well as immersion in the English language and still be close to home." The problem was that they wanted a core of native-English speaking teachers and students and they didn't have any. They had a few island kids who speak English, but it's kind of a pidgin English.
At any rate, Dr. Brown (the new academic director), called last weekend and asked if I would be interested in sending my children there for school (it's K through 6 right now, but potentially through 8). He said that he could make an arrangement where I would work part-time in the office in exchange for their tuition. I would never have to be there when my children weren't there, and it would be great if we could start ASAP.
Casey and I discussed it and thought that it might be a wonderful experience for the kids, so here we are! We started Thursday--me (in the office from 11-3:15), and the three youngest in school. They're expecting 100+ Chinese and Korean students beginning in January, but right now there are only 20 students.
Eden's first-grade class began the day she did and includes her American friends from church! The only "new" person was the teacher! She's having a ball and probably feels like she gets to go to Primary every day.
Ezra's third-grade class consists of him, the director's son, and a Korean boy. Their teacher is a very sweet Japanese lady--on our first meeting she commented that his math was "weak". I agreed and said that was true of our family in general (I didn't mention that I don't worry about math too much until they get older:) She smiled and said to me, very intensely and quietly, "Oh, but I love math and I want Ezra to love math, too!" If she could give him that it would be a wonderful gift. I asked Ezra how his first day went and he said, "ok". Typical Ezra-answer. He did finally allow that, "I guess I would have to say it was good."
Kait's experience was somewhat different. Before we actually began, she had asked if we could just try it...if we didn't like it could we quit? I assured her that if it didn't work for our family we would quit, but we could not quit over a bad day or a difficult assignment. She is in 5th grade and there are (counting her) three girls and three boys in her class. She is the only American and the others are Korean boarding students. After her first day, she was practically gushing. "Oh, Mom! They're so nice! Every classmate was sooo good to me... and so helpful!" She says that her teacher (American) is "brilliant at explaining."
The first night, they had so much homework that I was wondering if this was going to work. I'm not a big homework fan and have been known to send in notes to teachers requesting they excuse my children for not completing a homework assignment because we were having a family activity. I felt better when I found that there is a general school policy for no Friday homework and there are study halls built into the day in which they can complete their assignments. I can live with that.
Okay. So. How do Mom and Dad feel? Well, the first day that Mom came home from Seminary and found her little kids gone she got a little teary-eyed. Dad, on the other hand, said, "It was great! I got so much done!" We'll see how it goes after the fun of new school supplies, etc., wears off. . . .