We have celebrated many milestones similarly to the rest of our peer groups. Graduated high school, graduated uni. Travelled. Married. Worked. Had kids. Travelled some more. But when we started travelling full-time we “broke the curve”.
We gave up on one pretty momentous life milestone. The kids first day of school.
Before the kiddos, I never saw myself homeschooling our future babes. I liked the idea of school. The thought of the kids learning from someone outside of the family unit. Making friends with their classmates. Learning social norms from their peers. And giving us adults a kid-break. It all sounded good, and normal to me.
But our story didn’t follow the traditional path. We had a baby and took off sailing. It was going to be a one-year sailing bonanza. But that party never ended! We just kept going down the island chain. One kid turned into two kids. And before we knew it they were approaching school age.
Our options were pretty straight forward, keep sailing and homeschool, or stop and enrol them. We weren’t ready to stop. So homeschooling it was.
I wasn’t freaked out about being the girls’ teacher. Both our girls enjoy learning. And realistically, we had been “schooling” them since they were toddlers, making every game, song, and conversation, educational.
Homeschooling to Brick and Mortar School
Since we’re moving to Todos Santos, Mexico in the fall, and sticking around there for a while, we decided it could be fun to enrol the girls in school. With their years of homeschooling, both girls are above their grade levels by a year. We are not worried if they do not learn anything academic this upcoming year. If all they get from being in school in Mexico are some new friends and a new language, then we are coming out winners.
An added bonus about school down there, is that the kids only do half-days. Which I totally agree with. After seeing, through homeschooling, that a kid can push beyond an academic level with only an hour or two of work a day, there is no need to have them sitting at a desk for 7 hours! With their half days, they will do mornings at school, and in the afternoons I can continue to homeschool them in any subjects that we feel need more attention.
Seeking Out The Right School
During our last visit to Todos Santos I did the round of the schools in town. I spoke to the directors of each school and peeked around a bit. Based on what I saw and heard, we decided our girls will be attended PUBLIC school. TAUGHT FULLY IN SPANISH!
I sat with each director and explained that our girls speak very little Spanish. Of the four schools, the one public school director seemed a little stand-offish but that may have been due to my broken Spanish and being slightly lost in translation!!
The director of the International school suggested holding Arias back from grade 3 and enrolling her in first grade so she could catch up. I immediately hated that idea, having her sit in class with kids 2 years younger than her. That would not be socially beneficial for her whatsoever, unless she is training to have minions!
The director of the Jardin de Ninos (kindergarten) didn’t seemed worried about it at all. She said Ellia would fit in just fine.
And the final elementary school director said, “that’s ok, she’ll be bilingual in two month”. SOLD!!! That was exactly the mentality we were looking for in a school. Challenge her and she will succeed.
We’ve Come Back To The Milestone, Years Later
I am not a very anxious person. But my “Mama Bear protectiveness” has kicked in. I have been struggling to fall asleep the last few nights as I envision the girls’ first day of school. I hope that I am overreacting but I like to be mentally prepped, even for the potential worse.
We are throwing our girls into school. For the first real time ever. This will be the first time they have to sit at a desk, ask to go pee, be surrounded by peers.
On top of that we are throwing them the extra twist of doing it in a totally different language. And they’re doing it years after their classmates have gotten accustomed to this learning environment.
I feel like we may be throwing them in the deep end. I hope our years of travel, our lifestyle, and their skill set has prepared them enough to glide into the situation with ease. And not have them crying at the front gate that first morning…because I don’t know what I would do. Probably cry too!
Is This My Milestone?
The girls don’t seem too stressed about the idea of school. That leaves me to question, is this my milestone?
Most of our friends have kids similar ages. They all went through their “kids first day” years ago. I remember the pictures, the posts. How did you all cope!?
Now I am the one full of questions. Should we aim to be in town for the first day of school? Or will the girls be ok starting class a month into the school year? The girls will be attended separate schools (due to grade levels), will this help or hinder them? How will I get both kids to two different schools on time? If they both need “first day of school” attention how do I make sure they have it without making the other one late for class? Will I be looming at the gate, peering in the windows to see how they are doing? Or will I drop them and run? What if they hate their first day? YIKES!
I also feel a huge amount of excitement for the girls. THEIR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! This is big for them. They will learn a new language. They will learn local culture. But most importantly, they will make friends. I remember the bonds I made in grade school. I’m still in touch with many of those people. It warms my heart to think I girls will have that. Having BFFs, playdates, birthday parties, and recess games. And these are all in the near future.
Just got to get through that first day…or week.
Can I Hack It Alone?
I may also be doing this all on my own for the first little bit.
In a few weeks Eben will be flying back down to the VIs to do canvas work for some boats. I will have the girls, solo, for a month. My options are, head to Todos Santos when Eben leaves, start looking for a place to live, and have the girls there for the start of the school year.
Or wait in Canada while Eben is away sewing, and all of us fly into Mexico at the same time. This means the girls would start school a month in (the schools didn’t seem concerned about this, it is up to us).
Or do half and half. Wait here a couple of weeks. Get all of our Canadian stuff packed and stored. Then fly in to Mexico and be there a couple of weeks before Eben joins us.
We’ve got one month before the start of school. So that gives us 4 weeks to make up our minds!
If anyone has any tips on helping us conquer this milestone with grace, I’m all ears! Or, if you don’t have any advice but do have a funny story about going through this same stage, I’d also love to hear that. Make me feel a little less crazy!