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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What is Right for Your Kid

Being a military family over here in the UK we have some decisions to make when it comes to schooling. These decisions will not just affect our years here in the UK, but will affect our children's lives once we move back to the States. One route to go is to put your child in DoD (Department of Defense) schools. The other route is to use the UK school system. We chose to use the UK school system. There were many reasons for our decision. The first is that the UK schools are extremely structured. With LaLa being the type of hypersensitive child she is, the stability of the school's schedule and the year round schooling was important to me. The school she attends is also within walking distance of my house. This was important to me in case of car failure. My husband has got to go to work one way or another and I have to get LaLa to school one way or another, this way if one of the cars dies I don't have to 1) wake up ridiculously early to take him to work 2) get the kids up in the middle of the night to pick their dad up from work. We can just walk if all else fails. We know that their will be some adjustments to be made once we get back to the States such as making her drop the u's out of the word colour and that tire is not spelled tyre. Overall they are minor adjustments that we think she will make with ease when she is a bit older. Another reason?

UNICEF rankings of educational systems in the world's richest countries, indicating the percentage of 14 and 15 year olds scoring below a minimum level in literacy, math and science.
1. South Korea 1.4 percent
2. Japan 2.2
3. Finland 4.4
4. Canada 5
5. Australia 6.2
6. Austria 8.2
7. Britain 9.4
8. Ireland 10.2
9. Sweden 10.8
10. Czech Republic 12.2
- (tie) New Zealand 12.2
12. France 12.6
13. Switzerland 13
14. Belgium 14
- (tie) Iceland 14
16. Hungary 14.2
- (tie) Norway 14.2
18. United States 16.2
19. Germany 17
- (tie) Denmark 17
21. Spain 18.6
22. Italy 20.2
23. Greece 23.2
24. Portugal 23.6

I have however ran into some American parents at LaLa's school who are pulling their children out of this school once they are old enough to attend the American DoD elementary school next year. Although that is completely their decision, I don't understand putting the child into British schools to start with, and then moving them to an American school. The teaching methods in British schools are extremely different than in American schools and it just seems like it is going to be confusing to the kids. For instance in British schools when children are learning their alphabet, they learn the sounds the letters make as opposed to the names of the letters. The names of the letters are mentioned of course, but not emphasised like in American schools. This actually lead to my friend Domino's little boy to be extremely confused when he first entered British schools, but now he is straightened out and is caught up to his class and excelling.

I asked one of the American parents why he was moving his kid out of the British school and I got the most ridiculous answer. "Well he has to learn the Pledge of Allegiance somewhere." Now while I agree that learning the Pledge is important to Americans, I don't know if it is a reason I would move my kid out of a school. This is something you could teach your kid at home. Also if you are worried that they won't have the "typical American experience" of saying the Pledge at the beginning of the school day, remember, they are young enough that by the time you return to the States they will still get this experience when you return.

Now, if the DoD schools were better than British schools I would move LaLa. However, I have heard some iffy reviews of the school. Whereas I have seen the progress that LaLa is making here in her English school. She is sounding out words, adding, and becoming quite the little artest. I can't argue with results. She is happy. She loves going to school. She is learning. I see no reason to pull her out of this school, even if she isn't learning the Pledge of Allegiance. That is what Mommy and Daddy are for at home.


Lawyer Mom said...

Learning the sounds the letters make sounds smart to me.

You are right to go with your gut.

Ian Newbold said...

I think what you are doing is brilliant. I am a huge exponent of walking to school, and I think wherever it is possible that's the way it should be.

Considering your child's eventual re-introduction to the American system is necessary, but also the benefit they will get from really integrating within a foreign environment has to have huge benefits too.

Plus they get to learn how words should be spelt. ;-)

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

Sounds like you are making the right decision. bravo to you for doing your research and making an educated decision!

Joanie said...

I think you're making wise decisions!

You know, your kids can say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before going to school.

And teach them the National Anthem! Too many American kids don't know the words any more.

Bobby G said...

HMMMMMMM That is a dilemma, but by putting them in a British school, dont you run the risk of going back to the states and essentially do the same thing that lady did?

ChurchPunkMom said...

If my kids had a chance to go to an English school, they wouldn't be home schooled.

(our home school curriculum teaches letter sounds instead of names too, btw. makes SO much more sense!)

Mom in High Heels said...

Good for you. My ds is homeschooled because I don't want him in the DoD schools. I'm not a fan of them. If he spoke German, I'd put him in a German school. We do have an international school where English is the primary language, BUT it's over 10,000 Euro (about $13-14K) a year. That's a bit more than dh is willing to spend.

Mama Dawg said...

Good for you. Sounds like you know what's best.

satakieli said...

You're doing the right thing to go with your gut. I have nothing but good things to say about my British schooling experience and would send my kid to a British school if I had the chance.

I worry about this endlessly for when my son is old enough to go to school. Neither my husband nor I have any experience with American schooling, I was schooled entirely in England (being British obviously) and my husband was homeschooled in the States.

Now to work out some way for my husband to work in England so our son can go to British school and learn how to speak and spell like mummy ;-) (ie. properly! haha)

Sprite's Keeper said...

If she's happy, that would be good enough for me.

Captain Dumbass said...

Number Five! Woo hooo! Obviously this study was not conducted when I was 15.

The Pledge of Allegiance? Seriously? I'm Canadian and I can recite the POA, sing the Star Spangled Banner and know my Miranda rights all from watching TV. There's more to your kids education than being able to recite something.

Anonymous said...

These decisions are tough ones for a parent to make.

If they're happy and learning then why change schools? The variety and experience will give them kudos when you return to the U.S. - it'll broaden their outlooks, stretching them - which can only be good.

Jenni said...

to learn the pledge of allegiance? are you kidding me?

mo.stoneskin said...

The picture in my mind is of a little American flag and Pledge lessons at home ;)

Sounds to me like you're making the right decisions...

...apart from leaving my *cough cough* lovely country.

Anonymous said...

It's gotta be a difficult choice; one of my American friends here has said that if she has kids she'd rather move back to the states than put them in British schools--probably too extreme of a position but I guess for these sorts of conflicts there are no easy answers. It sounds like you've made a sensible choice, and when they're small it's probably easier to deal with the British schools--I would have a harder time with teenagers and the obsession with exams (GCSEs, AS and A levels, etc.)

for a different kind of girl said...

If you see your child progressing and learning, really thriving and enjoying her experience, then you definitely know you've made the right choice for her and for your family. That's not to say she might not have done those things in the DoD school, but truly, there's a comfort level you have to have when you're entrusting a huge portion of your child's learning onto another set of people.

Now I'll be over hear, shaking my head in amazement at the Pledge remark...

Jess said...

I say keep them in just for the experience of learning in a different place! (even though this is all they have known)

I say keep on keepin on. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, yo.

Momo Fali said...

From what I hear, there are some schools here in America where they don't say the Pledge anymore...though I'm sure that would never be the case with a DoD school! I say, do what works and stick to your gut.

Lola said...

As someone who is completely unimpressed with our American public school system, I think it sounds great. It's an incredible experience, and you seem to have really checked things out.

Dawn Parsons Smith said...

Kudos to you! I have heard nothing but wonderful things about British schools and if we lived in Britain, my children would attend school. I am a homeschooler here in the states. Our public schools in my community are a joke.

Good for you, Kat! Your children are lucky to be offered such a wonderful opportunity!

SweetPeaSurry said...

You're situation sounds very logical to me. It sounds as if your LaLa will get a better education at the UK school. Plus ... it'll be an interesting factoid about her life when she gets older.

bright blessings!

Chairman Bill said...

If the school is within walking dostance of the house, why use a car in the first place?

Cape Cod Gal said...

I think what you're doing is very smart. She's getting a great experience and will be way ahead of all the US kids when she returns!

Elle Charlie said...

Sounds like you're making a good choice all around. Plus she'll have the fun memories of having gone to the public schools in another country - how cool.

Anonymous said...

Of course we have bad schools and fantastic schools here. If you are pleased with progress and the child is happy them why would a parent want to put them through the stress of getting used to a whole new school, teaching methods and friends?
Sounds like a very selfish parent to me.