It's Tea Time Somewhere: All About "Back to School"


It's that time of year again: school uniforms are being purchased, homeschool rooms are being organized, and kids are holding signs and cheesing for mom to mark the first day of school. In this tea-time episode, we're discussing the experiences we've had in our host countries with local school and homeschooling, along with some things we've learned. We also talk about what kind of students we were growing up, how you better not miss too many days of public school in the States "OR ELSE," and how one PTA president let power get to her head.

Show Notes

Connect with Alicia

Connect with Denise

Connect with Melissa

Questions discussed during this episode:

What type of students were we growing up?

How do we kick-off a new school year?

How did Melissa's kids do when they transitioned from homeschooling in Southeast Asia to doing local school in Latvia?

What advice do we have to share for parents schooling their kids in a host country?

Mentioned in this episode:

Our TCK Instagram account: The Traveling Academy. Follow us there and hear from 10 different expat moms across the globe. All types of schooling is represented, as well a wide-range of TCK ages (baby to college grads).

Related previous episodes:

It's Tea Time Somewhere: All About Expectations (Melissa discusses her expectations about enjoying homeschool.)

Episode 23: Growing Up in a Mix of Cultures with Jessi Vance

Episode 07: Homeschooling Through High School with Robin Talley (She also discussed how she and her daughter made the decision together about whether or not to do boarding school).

Related articles:

The College Essay I Should Have Written by Christie Chu

"Throughout the rest of high school, I rarely talked about my overseas experience. Other students knew where I had moved from, of course. Some students called me “Paris” for my three years there. But people didn’t ask about life in France, so I never shared

Not talking about my experience in France became so ingrained in me that when it came time to write my college essays, I completely ignored that part of my life. The thing that truly set me apart from other students, the thing colleges like to see—a personality, a unique story—I swept under the rug. So I didn’t mention living in France or how it shaped me in college essays."

10 Things I've Learned from Raising TCKS by Emily Jackson

"Even if you have a plan to stay in the same place for a long time, using the same schooling system (homeschool, national school, international school, etc.), be prepared for that plan to change. You might need to move because of work, company policy changes, or political turmoil. Unforeseen issues may arise with your child that make you reconsider your educational choice. I never imagined that we would basically end up having to re-hash the schooling question every single academic year. There were a few school years that we even had to reconsider educational choices in the middle of the year. Many families are in the same boat, making plans along the lines of: “We can try this for now, then reevaluate at the end of the semester.”

'Apps'olutely Worth it: Educational Apps that Made the Cut

"We’ve done our research and asked around for some educational app recommendations. Below you’ll find all the educational apps that made the cut and have been deemed “APPSolutely Worth It!” We’ve divided them up so you can skim the list and find the ones that meet you and your child where you currently are in your “TCK schooling journey”. 

The apps are divided into the following categories:

  • Early Childhood – Elementary

  • Middle – High School

  • Special Learning Needs

  • For the Parents

  • For the Language Learners

  • Additional Websites

For each app, we’ve included a snippet of the app’s description from its creator. If we have any additional comments, we’ve included those remarks in italics. Whether the apps cost you a pretty penny or nothing at all, they’ve all received great reviews from professionals we know personally.

Public School Pros and Cons While on Home Assignment by Denise James

"We’ve homeschooled from day one…actually, more by default than anything else.  It’s the only option for our family while in Southeast Asia.  And we, like Christie shared in her post, assumed that when we went on home assignment that we would continue our children’s education at home. But out of the blue we got a wild hair to explore the public school option for the one semester we would be home.  

One of the first things I did was post on an International Christian Homeschool Facebook Board asking for people’s experiences transitioning their kids to a public school setting.  I was really surprised at the first few responses.  They were very negative.  “I have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to put their kids in public school.” “Public schools are so perverted.  I would NOT DO IT.”  I don’t know if this was supposed to discourage me from public school, but it did the exact opposite.  I realized I am not that type of homeschooler.  There are many different options for the global family and there is no cookie cutter way to educate your children.  For me it depends on the season of life an expat family is in."

Moving Abroad: Choosing Schools Overseas by Christie Chu

"When we planned our move overseas, the school question wasn’t even a question. I was going to homeschool our two preschoolers. I’d home-preschooled the older one for over a year already, so I figured we’d simply continue.

Then we arrived in our new European home.

We arrived in winter to a 2-bedroom apartment, no yard. It was too cold to go to the playground and difficult to communicate with the other children we saw out with their mothers on grocery-store treks. I tried to ignore my feelings, which grew steadily more concerned with our lack of social interaction.

As we met other expats in our English-speaking community,  we found that, almost universally, kids over two or three went to school.  

If you’re moving overseas and thinking about school for your children, go ahead and make a plan for your kids’ education. Run through these steps and figure out which makes the most sense for your family. But do it again once you arrive and can actually see the options for yourself."

5 Steps to Raising Readers in a Non-English Setting by Angela

"Raising children who read well, read often, and read enthusiastically has been a huge goal of mine! Partly because of my own love of reading, but also because of the way a good book opens doors in the heart and mind that our limited daily experiences are just incapable of.  By the time my daughter was a preschooler, I realized that living in Asia was perhaps not the easiest place to teach her how to read in English. We went through our Letter of the Week preschool that I had carefully put together after hours of thoughtful research and preparation. But when we left our home, there was not a single “A” or “B” or “C” around for me to point out to her. I began to feel discouraged. There were no signs written in English, no labels on food boxes. I can still remember practicing on all those things as a child when I was learning to sound out words.

How would my own kids learn to read without the plethora of language around to give them opportunities for practice? Thankfully, I discovered that there are ways to create a language rich environment wherever you are."

A Case for Year-Round Schooling by Denise James

"Today starts our new “year” of school. You may be thinking, “starting a new year at the beginning of July? Are you a crazy women?”  Well, yes, yes I am, but that is beside the point. I school-year round, not because I am crazy, but because I found it works best for our family. I often wonder, if I lived in the States, would I homeschool? There was a time when I would have said, "no way, public school all the way. Gotta let that little light shine." But now, I can’t imagine living my life tied to the schedule of public school. Maybe I am selfish and lazy, but I really enjoy the flexibility of homeschool. And one thing we can all agree on: living life overseas involves 100,000 times more flexibility than life in the U.S.

That is the main reason I homeschool year-round. Something always comes up. A visa trip, an unexpected guest, an impromptu trip to the beach. The husband sometimes travels for a week at a time and we want to spend time with him when he is home. Homeschooling year-round helps me to make school fit our life, not our life fit school."

Show credits: 

Hosted by Denise James and Alicia Boyce // produced and edited by Melissa Faraday // content managed by Alicia Boyce.


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