Meet Geraldine, a sweet older friend of mine from Europe. She and her husband moved to West Africa with older children, and have been there for nine years. I asked her what homeschooling advice she has for mothers on the mission field. Here is what she shared with me.





Eleven years ago I found myself in Ohio after my husband accepted a job there. We had come from a country in Europe where school is fully organized, overemphasized, and where a diploma is absolutely necessary to get even a simple job. Homeschooling was forbidden there, and we wanted to start homeschooling five of our seven children, ranging from grades one to eleven.


I felt like I had lost all my security and balance for our children and their educational future. I could not believe that stepping away from the school system and making Mama their teacher could ever work out well. What I did see was the benefits of not being in a system where God is not recognized and honored, and of keeping the children away from a lot of wickedness; but how to make it work without a school environment was one big question mark for me.


At that time I did not know that God was preparing me to be a homeschool mother in a remote village in Africa, where we could not depend on others and with no homeschool groups or homeschool families close by. Without these two years in America I don't think I would have made it!


Our main desire for our children was that they would get a good education in a godly environment with the opportunity to learn more skills than only educational. Everybody likes their children to be able to fit in society, but living overseas makes our children very different. They are not aware of new gadgets, fashions and ways of living in the western world. We saw how difficult it was for most of them to go on furlough and to fit in with the group they suddenly were dropped into. The most normal life activities were not normal for them.


In most cases we can't solve that problem for them on the field. We only can assure them that it is OK if they don't know everything, and mention that they know a lot that their Western friends and relatives don't. We admit that we as adults feel dumb when we have to ask how to do something normal. They need to realize that they are not less than others who know exactly how to behave, just different.


In other cases we need to protect them from difficulties. Our children are as important as the people we are reaching out to on the field. Maybe even more important. God entrusted them to our care to raise them for His glory. We have to make sure that we do everything to make it easier for them to become a stable, hardworking, and responsible person that by the time they make the decision to follow the Lord they don't stumble due to a bad work attitude or behaviour.


It is very easy to become too relaxed concerning school when you are overseas, to think that it is only for a certain amount of time and later you will pick it all up again. But even one or two years will influence your children. School is more than education. It is learning to be responsible, to work even when you don't feel too good about it, to go through discouragement and learn to be persistent.


Something we learned by experience is that our children benefit a lot by having a strict schedule. Even with many interruptions we always went back to our schedule. We have an appointed time to eat breakfast, do chores and start school. I always made sure that every child had a work schedule with what needs to be done that day and also that all their work is corrected before the next day, so that they could see that I am interested in their work and their progress even in the midst of the many other challenges we face on the field.


Living overseas can make us mothers very busy. I as a nurse could easily have filled my days. With a purpose, I stayed away from being distracted from the family. We have to treasure those years with our children and use the time to interact with them as much as possible.


I had to learn to be more flexible but I think that is similar to living in a Western country. We planned vacation breaks but often they shifted around and changed several times a year. A sudden visit from one of the other missionaries is special and school had to postponed.


In some areas I know that my children are lacking information or tools, but in other areas I see how much they learned to be inventive by not having tools and information. They had to find solutions for their problems. This is a skill that is very valuable also in the rest of their lives.


We really benefited from being enrolled in a homeshool organisation that keeps records of all the children. It helped us to stay on track and we saw a big change in motivation in the children after we enrolled them. They get their scores with the progress they make and they see more what is going on. For me as the teacher I felt that somebody else was carrying the burden with me! Nine years ago we had no internet access or phone connection. Now we can send the results by email, ask questions and get information any moment we need it. All the children worked toward an academic school diploma and finished grade 12.


In the nine years that we were on the mission field we saw six of our children leave home. Two had already finished high school in Europe, and four were able to finish homeschooling in West Africa. They were able to write their ACT in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, and obtained an accredited high school diploma. Our last child hopes to finish high school next year.


We are very thankful for a mission board that allowed us to take our children with us to Africa, and see it as a great blessing to have been able to teach them and have them serve with us.


To God be the glory!

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