Home schooling for multilingual families
I Am A Mom, Raising Global Citizens And TCK's

So Are We Home Schooling Now?

We would never have considered homeschooling for our children. But for multilingual children, it can be the only option.


Homeschooling for multilingual families

I’ve never would have considered home schooling. It’s just not my thing. But my eldest has just turned 7 years old, and with some shock I realized that while I was very good at downloading Polish schoolbooks, and working with them together with my child, I totally neglected something very important.

I tried thinking back to the time when I went to school, and it occurred to me that while my daughter understands and speaks Polish, and even can read and write a little bit, she is missing out on very crucial cultural experiences Polish kids have in school. She doesn’t know what books Polish kids read or what they watch. Even if her accent made her seem Polish, she’d still stand out in a group of other Polish kids.

So I started googling reading assignments in Polish schools, and that’s when I realized, “We are home schooling.” It was shocking. Even when I was teaching them Polish, at home, I was very reluctant to use the term “home-schooling” and apply it to our situation.

Home schooling for multilingual families

We would never have considered homeschooling for our children. But for multilingual children, it can be the only option.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with home schooling, in itself. In fact, right now the pendulum is now swinging in the other direction, claiming that schools kill creativity, or that modern societies forgot something very important about the way kids learn these days.

My friend Leanna over at All Done Monkey even noticed a new trend, in which parents (especially mothers) who send their children to a traditional school get shamed for this decision:

“Somehow parents who don’t home school are made to feel that they aren’t doing enough for their kids – as if caring for their child, working to finance their household, and keeping everyone fed and happy wasn’t doing enough.”

I know it can be a great choice for many families, but I would never have considered it for us.

I simply believe that a good school can be an equally great choice for millions of kids. I love it when the school takes over tasks that were usually the parents’ responsibility: for example, our school takes care of swimming classes which means I don’t have to worry about it. Not to mention that school can be crucial in cultural identity-building by books, choosing topics to talk about, as well as having a canon of books every child in a certain culture should know. It also helps giving children a leg up by offering them education which would be, in many cases, unavailable to them.

Personally, I could have ended up being a home-schooling advocate though. I hated primary school. It was too much. Each teacher claimed there was nothing more important in the world that their subject, and besides, Polish schools weren’t known for being very child-focused. There was a lot of rota memorization (the same type of learning which this writer on the Washington Post made responsible for Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s speech), and rules with little explanation. Once, I got a bad grade once because it took me too long to unpack my books. We had religion at school. No it didn’t teach kids about the various religions around the world. It was about The Religion (Catholicism), and we had to learn prayers by heart. And we were graded, right from the start, on everything. Yes, including religion, arts, crafts and physical education- things that can’t really be graded because they depend so much on individual abilities.

This changed when I started secondary school. The material was much more difficult, but I suddenly managed to start enjoying school. It’s not that school is bad. It’s just that some schools work better for some kids than others- something that Eowyn Crisfield calls “school personality.”

I was of course worried when I heard that in the Netherlands children start school when they turn four years old. In the end, I needn’t have worried because the first two years of school are very playful and child-focused.

Children only learn to read and write in “group 3”, when they’re 6 years old. My eldest is assigned homework, but it’s around 10-15 minutes a week, and quickly taken care of.

There are many reasons a traditional school is a good choice: it allows parents to work, helps children make friends, teaches them that not everything in life will be fun, and also makes them deal with unexpected situation. Also, for many, school is not what kills creativity, but where kids discover their talents and gifts. Some kids thrive in the highly structured environment of the traditional school. Teaching their own child doesn’t work for all parents, not to mention that it’s very time-consuming and besides, I think I am too lazy for that. Oh and I am a lousy teacher. I used to teach German to adults but couldn’t do it for kids.

Not to mention the fact that home schooling here in the Netherlands is legal, but very difficult.

But I can no longer pretend that what we’re doing isn’t home schooling. It’s actually called part-time homeschooling (for me I suppose, it’d be considered minimal home schooling), but that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Not because we hate schools, it’s actually the opposite. Our school offers great opportunities for our kids’ education and we love it. But it doesn’t offer Polish classes, so this is something I have to take care of.

Which is why for my eldest, I downloaded Polish schoolbooks from the government website. I am always asking my parents to bring me books. I’m teaching my middle daughter to read and write from the same book I used at school – I already mentioned it in my post about handwriting.

And I still think that my job is made easier by the fact that the kids already attend school, which means that I don’t have to teach concepts from scratch but instead I can teach them the Polish words for these concepts.

I also hired a teacher-it’s actually my eldest daughter’s speech therapist, which means that I am not left alone in this. Some parents say that if something (like your child’s education) is important, you do it yourself. I say, if something is i mportant, and difficult, that’s when you get help. That’s what I’ve always been doing: getting help with raising my children.

Despite people who say “We don’t want the village raise my kids”, I simply believe, as sociologist Stephanie Koontz does, that “Children do best in societies where childrearing is considered too important to be left entirely to parents.” 





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1 Comment

  • Reply Marko March 11, 2017 at 12:04 am

    Hi Olga, I live in Canada with my wife and 6 kids. We home school our kids since grade 1. I wish you could came and see how well home schooling system is developed here. The books options, online courses, social gatherings. Generally the homeschooling students do well in Universities and they are accepted without any additional testings now.
    The reason for homeschooling can be different for different people. Some parents would like to spend more time with their children. In home schooling environment kids gifts and talents are discovered more easily. There are usually 30 students per teacher in classrooms so they really have to average everything they do as they do not have enough time for individuals. We have 6 kids and they are all quite different. Some kids are quick learners and some needs more time. Some have a talent for science and some for arts…
    Also Canada in my opinion is too liberal (the same as Netherlands) when it comes to sexual education in schools. What to teach , what age ,what time sort of equation. I believe that this topics were quite neglected by some families in the passed and I guess governments had to do something about it. The problem is that kids are fed with materials and topics they are not ready for. This is quite damaging for their normal development.
    I have a job offer in Nederlands and I will probably turn it down because the home schooling issue. We have experienced the advantages of homeschooling and I would have a hard time to let it go especially in the country where christian private schools almost do not exist and parents are forced to use the public system.
    I would like to thank you for putting your time into this and I see from your comments that you understand the matter of homeschooling very well. I hope that government will be vise enough to support the parents willing to do it rather then forcing a one system option. That will in the long run bless the country in many ways.
    God Bless you.

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