Page 63 - Foreign Service Journal - December 2012

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
DECEMBER 2012
63
W
hen they are
out and about
in the middle
of a weekday,
my three kids
are routinely
asked by confused and curious strang-
ers, “What are you doing out of school?”
Teir confusion only grows when my kids
answer proudly, “We don’t go to school—
we homeschool.”
We are one of many Foreign Service
families that have made the choice to
educate their children at home over the
years, following a general trend in the U.S.
population. Te number of homeschool-
ers in the U.S. is difcult to track, but
estimates indicate that homeschooled
students increased from about 850,000
in 1999 to approximately two million in
2010.
While there are no hard and fast
numbers for the Foreign Service popula-
tion either, anecdotal evidence indicates
that there has been similar increased
interest among the FS community in
homeschooling over the last fve years.
Te Family Liaison Ofce estimates that
approximately 1,000 Foreign Service
children are currently homeschooled
overseas, with more families choosing to
educate their children at home each year.
Homeschooling can include a wide
variety of educational styles and prac-
tices. Tey range from establishing a very
structured, traditional school-at-home
approach, where a parent serves as the
formal teacher, to technology-reliant
participation in an online school or
distance learning program, to a more
eclectic or unstructured approach such as
“unschooling.”
Foreign Service families participate in
all of these types of homeschooling, with
the support of the State Department’s
education allowance to help cover the
costs of their chosen education program.
Why Homeschool?
Although some families choose home-
schooling due to a specifc situation at
post, such as dissatisfaction with the local
school options, many families choose it as
a way of life, regardless of where they are
posted, because of its well-documented
benefts.
Numerous studies have shown that
homeschooled students match or exceed
the academic performance of their
traditionally-schooled peers. In addition,
homeschooling ofers the ability to adjust
instruction to meet a child’s particular
need or follow a specifc interest—which
can be much harder to do in a traditional
school setting. Homeschooling families
often spend more time together as a fam-
ily, and less time stressing over homework
and other school requirements.
Tere are also a number of benefts
specifc to Foreign Service life. Bidding
on posts becomes much easier when you
don’t have to factor in the local school
options; all of a sudden, places that you
would not have considered become more
attractive.
At a post where most of the Foreign
Service population is trying to transfer
within the same eight-week break in the
school calendar, homeschooling families
have the fexibility to arrive at or depart
on a diferent timeline. Similarly, those
families can schedule their vacations
NO, REALLY, THEWORLD
ISMY CLASSROOM!
HOMESCHOOLING IN
THE FOREIGN SERVICE
Homeschooling is a
growing trend within
the Foreign Service, as
it is in the general U.S.
population.
BY E L I ZABETH POWER
Elizabeth Power and her husband, Conor,
homeschool their three children in Lima,
where she is consul general. Tey have also
been posted to Lagos, Montevideo, Ciudad
Juarez, Maseru and Washington, D.C.
EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT