OK, so the change of venue for the kiddos education…
A couple things you should know about us.
- Education is very important. And it’s not just for kids so we have worked hard to instill in our kiddos a love for learning that will last a lifetime.
- We do not baby our kids. If something is difficult we support and encourage them to follow through.
- We do not just do things (big things like this) without being informed. A lot of time and effort was put into checking out each of the available schools here.
- We appreciate the hard work of our children’s teachers and do whatever we can to assist them. We brought down a dozen cases of books for library and various school supplies to donate to the school.
Now on with the tale.
We were excited to enroll the kiddos into the school we carefully selected. We felt it was a progressive learning establishment and that the immersion would be a great way to learn Spanish and adjust to the culture here.
There was a lot of trepidation on the first day of school -which is understandable. We had done the mounds of paperwork, paid the inscriptions, traveled to Guadalajara to purchase the books, packed the backpacks with the necessary school supplies, purchased the uniforms. All this for 3 kiddos, by the way.
It just didn’t work out. For many many many reasons.
We were prepared for things to be different.
We were prepared for the adjustment to be difficult.
We were prepared for some tears and frustration.
We were prepared for needing tutors to assist with the language and some classroom help.
We were NOT prepared for below level education, lack of classroom control and a breakdown of our kids.
And that was not acceptable.
I want my children to have a good education in an environment they feel safe in.
There were reasons specific to each child that we needed to make a change.
The school had changed management and teachers and it was not the same place we were so excited about just months before.
So, what do you do?
Stay and hope it changes back soon? Switch to another school each time there is such a drastic change in the skill level of the staff and management? That doesn’t seem to be an equation for successful learning.
Switch gears to home school? A completely new education forum? For 3 kids ranging from preschool on up to junior high? Do we make our own curriculum? Do we find an academically sound program? In such a short time? And do they deliver to Mexico or is it all online?
When we moved our family into another country all the regular guidelines by which we go by went out the window and just like so many other aspects of our life here we needed to make the necessary adjustments to benefit the kiddos.
A quick sidebar:
Are you considering moving down here with children? We had mentioned in a previous post that if you are interested in enrolling your children in school, YOU MUST VISIT THE SCHOOL IN PERSON. (believe it or not, I know parents that just pick a school and drop off their kids without even checking it out)
While checking out the school there are some questions NOT to ask…
ARE THERE CLASSES IN ENGLISH? –every place will say answer yes but it’s not what you are thinking. Even the public schools have 30 minutes of English each day. We were told by the director that half the day was taught in Spanish and half the day in English, and that the teachers were all bilingual. This is NOT the case for the school we enrolled in, and not the case for any other “bilingual” schools in our area.
Example: We met with Austin’s “Spanish part of the day” teacher for a conference. She spoke ZERO English. She really wasn’t qualified to be a teacher. When we asked her in Spanish AT LEAST THREE times to speak slower, she just continued to speak VERY rapidly. She couldn’t even ask Austin “What is your name?” in English. He was in her class for 6 weeks and although she knew he didn’t have the book they were using, never did anything to let us know, or get him a book.
ARE THE TEACHERS BILINGUAL? -if there is just a single teacher that is bilingual the answer will be yes. In my kids’ school only the teachers that teach English are bilingual. What you want (and really need) is for the teacher your child has in Spanish to be bilingual so as to assist them with the learning process.
Side note: India’s English teacher did not use correct grammar while teaching in English. India was anxiously wondering if she should correct the teacher or just go along with it. India asked “If I have a test do I put the right answer or what she said? Will I get in trouble?”
Some things we noticed:
- Teacher turnover is frequent. (They get offered government pensioned jobs in NOVEMBER! So the private schools have to scramble to replace them with an unemployed & unqualified teacher)
- Classes are not small.
- Students are taught cursive early on -this is not bad in itself but they are not learning other skills as quickly.
- All schools have uniforms -this actually makes the morning routine much easier and it is designed to ease the economic burden and reduce teasing.
- Students enter school at 3 years of age and actually have 3 years of Kindergarten.
- Most schools are not equipped to recognize or deal with any learning disabilities children may have.
- Nationalism and Catholicism are a major part of the curriculum.
- Some schools require a large amount of parent involvement while others keep you completely “in the dark.”
- A couple of the schools have high academic scores -but we have learned that those scores are not always accurate. (was that tactful enough?)
We visited and spent a lot of time with each of the schools in the area and if you have specific questions or would like a list of the names and websites, please message me and I will be happy to share that with you.
People say, “How will they learn the language if they are not in school?” And that is a personal disappointment to me. But we will figure that out. There are actually some things more important.
Thank you to our friends and teachers who have been so encouraging to us as we pursue this new direction.
We are not the first family to discover the need to reconsider our children’s education down here. I have found more and more people are taking their children out and home schooling them. It’s not just gringos who are dissatisfied. We met with a Mexican real estate agent (born in this area) who took her 3 year old out of school along with several other Mexican and non-Mexican parents.
What did we end up doing?
I get to be my children’s teacher. (a role I have had for the past 12 years but now even more so) We have chosen the K12 program. (www.k12.com) It is a solid academic program that is very accomplishment oriented. The kids’ entire programs were delivered right to our door. The curriculum is there for us to follow. The philosophy of K12 is independent learning with an adult learning coach (me) as they are challenged to reach their individual potential. This benefits all kinds of students -the speedy learners, the easily bored, the challenged. A lot of the classes are interactive and engaging. (Do I sound like a commercial? 🙂 Seriously, I really really really like the program.)
More importantly, the kids are liking it and we are so proud of their accomplishments. They are working hard and doing a great job. They are enjoying learning and get to speed up on the things that come easily and spend more time to understand anything that doesn’t.
Is it “walk in the park” and easy as pie? (not pii) No, it’s hard work. But isn’t anything that is worthwhile? We have a schedule that we try to follow each day. The nice thing is there is a lot of flexibility in time management. It’s tricky to go from India’s literature class to Austin’s algebra and then to Ginger Kitty’s letters -but I’m getting the hang of that.
Have to confess. I am sad… I think there is a lot you learn from school -and not just what’s in the books. I am also sad that my baby is not entering the same Kindergarten back in the States that her brother and sister went to and will not have Miss Eddy. And that we won’t have a cutie head picture of her to put in the scrapbook of her and her class and teacher. (a scrapbook that, by the way, has been carefully put together to accommodate the early school year photos)
Does this mean that we recommend you do not send your kids to school here? No way. We can only share our personal experience with you and that may not be your experience. It is so important to do your homework and see what works for your family.
I do have this to say… our children are getting an excellent education right now and they are happy. What more can a momma want.
Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
– Theodore Roosevelt