Making Educational Choices

During our first overseas missions assignment, our children attended an international school that catered to children of the international diplomatic and business communities as well as the wealthier citizens of the local community. The school was bilingual. Our kids learned all subjects in English and in the local national language. Due to the heavy demands of the school and the travel required to and from school, our kids woke up early and came home late. By the time our children completed their nightly homework, ate dinner and took a bath, it was bedtime. That doesn't take into account the extracurricular activities they were involved with. Our family life quickly revolved around school. Our family began to pray about alternatives, including homeschooling.

When we returned to the United States for our first furlough (now called stateside assignment), the teachers in our school district went on strike. We had to make a choice about how to finish the children’s school year. We chose to homeschool.

When we returned to the field, we considered continuing homeschooling, but we felt we would need to join a local sports club to provide socialization within the community and for them to have physical activities. That choice was simply too expensive. We could only afford to pay half the amount of the membership fee. After we had prayed one day, we went to the post office. As I got out of the car to go into the post office, I commented to Tina, my wife, that we would need for God to provide the means. As I returned to the car from the post office, someone on the street handed me a brochure from the sports club with a half-off sale offer. We joined and returned to homeschooling.

Homeschooling was a breath of fresh air for our family. School now fit our schedule and we controlled the curriculum. When I traveled, we all traveled. Our kids brought school with them and made the world their classroom.

Later in our missionary career, due to an illness Tina suffered, we re-enrolled the children in public school. During the succeeding years, to meet the children’s own personal and educational needs and future plans, each of our kids lived away from us with family, friends and other missionary families. It was difficult to be apart during those times, but it brought us all closer together and provided them with valuable experience that strengthened them emotionally, intellectually, professionally and spiritually. Our children had to learn to be more independent and self-reliant, and they needed to learn life skills such as managing their own finances and spiritual lives. Another interesting aspect of this was that our daughter moved back home to live with us when she started college.

Whether it was private school, homeschooling or public school, we found that God provided what our children needed. And we discovered that one of the keys to their experience was our involvement as parents in whatever program they were enrolled.

 

Brian and Tina Allen served for 19 years with the International Mission Board. Today, Brian is the controller for national WMU in Birmingham, Alabama.

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