(Thoughts from Adrienne C-serving as a Regional Education Consultant & Liaison for TCKI member families in Africa.)
As a homeschooling parent I often get the “Wow, I could never homeschool my children” remark. Does it take an incredible amount of patience, perseverance, and organization? Absolutely. But it also comes with a myriad of blessings alongside the challenges and struggles. Am I a perfect parent/teacher? Absolutely not. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and have had my fair share of melt-downs, but God’s grace has seen us through and now my oldest is about to graduate high school. Let me back up to where and why the homeschool journey all began… When my husband and I first began serving we were sent to Angola, a very impoverished, war-torn nation. At the time we only had one child who was a toddler and grew into her preschool years in third world Africa. I quickly realized that if we were going to serve in a similar country later, that homeschooling our children was probably our only option. Quite frankly, the thought of homeschooling terrified me. I had never pictured myself as a homeschool mom, and at the time I really didn’t want to pursue it. But as we often learn as we serve overseas, it’s not about us, is it? I had to surrender my own will to the Lord and submit to what He was calling me to. Arriving back to the States for itineration, I decided to start homeschooling my daughter as a Kindergartener. We joined a homeschool co-op nearby and I learned alongside my daughter that we could do this! It was incredibly rewarding to be the one to teach her how to read and to watch her grow academically. By the time we left for our heart-nation (Mozambique), I felt like I was equipped to handle the challenge along with 2 more babies. I quickly learned that homeschooling in Africa is a bit different than homeschooling in the States. One huge obstacle is loneliness—for the child and the parent. There weren’t any well-organized homeschool co-ops to be a part of. In fact, we were the only homeschooling family that I knew of at the time. I had to be very purposeful about socialization for my children and myself as well. All these years later, I still have to be purposeful in this area. This is a common thread throughout our region. As I have talked with other members in our region of the world, finding education for our children is no easy task. Often times there are international schools as an option, but this is normally the case only if you live in a large city. The international schools can be difficult to get into as many have waiting lists. Then there’s the language issue. Some of the schools are in English, but many of them are in other languages and we must decide if pursuing an education for our child in a different language will help or hinder them. We ended up continuing the homeschool route because we wanted to be available to move to wherever the Lord would want us without having to worry about the educational system. Often, here in Africa, if you are not located in a capital city then there are few choices for decent education for your children. My husband and I knew that we would be rooted in a more rural setting in Africa and I wanted the flexibility that homeschooling allowed in order to do that. I’ve been homeschooling our three children for years, and it’s been an incredible experience. We have become a very close-knit family, and I have treasured the godly principles that I’ve been able to invest into my children’s lives and education. Given all of the benefits of homeschooling my children, there have been struggles as well. There are days when I wish I could send them to school. There are days that I doubt myself; question if what I’m doing is best for my children. And then the Lord gives me that extra dose of grace that I need. He reassures me and reignites the passion for homeschooling my children within me.