Frequently Asked Questions
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Most families living in a culture that is not their passport culture live a very transitional lifestyle. They tend to travel more, make more frequent moves to new locations, and experience more influences on their lifestyle than the average family living mono-culturally. This transitional lifestyle can have a significant effect on the education of children. Having a well-considered plan A with a plan B ready to go can prevent or alleviate stressful decision-making during times of transition. Your plan should include your philosophy of education, your long-term goals for each child, an understanding of the learning style of each child, an awareness of each child’s potential and bent toward specific areas of ability and interest, an awareness of weaknesses in a child’s ability to learn that might need to be addressed and a tentative academic path each child could take to get to the goals you have set. SHARE would be happy to provide you with information and resources to help you formulate your family’s plan.
Most often the challenges of home educating children while living cross-culturally have to do with isolation from the new culture and language, isolation from other home educators, lack of available printed resources and issues of time management due to a busy and transitional lifestyle. All of these challenges can be lessened by having a thoughtful annual plan that deals with each challenge intentionally. An annual review of the plan is important so that adjustments can be made as needed.
Learning in a second language has both benefits and challenges. Research shows that exposure to other cultures and languages is most often a great benefit. Children and adults who become “balanced bilinguals” (able to function almost equally well in either language) experience multiplied benefits in both languages. However, one challenge is that it may take longer than expected to become a true bilingual. Some researchers believe that it may take as many as 5-7 years to become academically fluent. Though children often sound conversationally fluent after 1-2 years, they continue to experience the deficits of not having the years of cultural knowledge and language that native speakers have. Therefore, it is not recommended that children in the later elementary years and older begin to study full-time in another language unless it is for a limited time and purpose. Students who have been diagnosed with learning struggles are also not recommended for entry into a high stress, second-language academic environment. However, research does show that students with learning issues may benefit from learning a second language in a low-stress environment. For more information on learning in a second language, see related articles on this site.