Decisions about schooling for children are never easy and in my experience they are intensely personal. But I love to debate, to wrestle, to discuss, and to learn. I never assume I have all the answers or even a few of them for that matter which is good since it drives me to prayer. Being an educator and a mother makes me think about these things a lot. Maybe too much. We never wanted to make decisions for our kids about their education just because that is what everyone else was doing. Not that everyone is neccesarily wrong but that for us we wanted to know that we really thought through the options taking into account that each child is created uniquely and each family has different seasons, needs, values. As a teacher I am a firm believer in the benefits of public school. That a family committed to making a difference in a community can really impact families by sending their children and supporting them in a public school setting. They can also learn a lot too and be challenged and grow! Now, this position was a lot easier to take a firm stand while I was teaching on the South side of Chicago and before I had children of my own. But still, there it is. I am still a die-hard public education supporter but with age and experience I am also realizing that different choices for different families can really be the best option. God has a sense of humor for sure as is evident by the fact that I was heard to have said on more than one occasion “I will never home school” and then God took our family to a place that in time I may need to make that decision for our family. I have also seen some amazing families use homeschooling as a means to make room for life and learning and that gives me new perspective. So, we are not ruling out anything. For now, Anni attends a local private school that costs about 10 dollars a month. That is a lot here since many people cannot even send their kids to the local government schools since you need a uniform, books, pencils. The government schools also teach religion and many require girls to wear head coverings so for us it would not be a good fit. I have seen the classrooms of over 50 students in one room and I see why learning is so difficult here. It puts a lot of perspective on how we look at education in the West.
While I am grateful we have more options and in general better standards than many schools here I still firmly believe that we Americans can sometimes hold our children’s education as so important that it can become an idol. As if the only important thing in life is to have the best grades at the top school in order to get into the highest ranked university to get the best job. We stress so much and there are waiting lists for the top preschools. There is so much more to life than that and I pray that while our children miss out on some of the American school culture by living here they are learning so much they could never understand or grasp living back home. Of course we want Annikah and Evy to have a great education and enjoy the benefits of learning and thriving in a school setting but we also know there are things far more important you can never learn in any school.
Miss Annikah started school last week again. Her school now has the official title “Eden International School” and although she is still the only “international” pupil we have high hopes 🙂 We are not sure what the future holds but for now this little school has been a great place for us. Anni graduated from the “baby class” and is now in the “Green Group.” A few days I have stopped in early just to observe from a far to see how she is handling everything and by the smiles, giggles, and friends she has we think she is doing pretty good. There are days that she has a rough time and to be honest those days are really hard for us since while we know she would have hard days at “home” too it seems harder to be the only Mzungu kid here. So we struggle and we pray together. We are trying to support the teachers, students, and parents and be a part of the community there since there is so much we can learn. This morning was a big day: Anni took the school bus for the first time. I went with her to make sure she would not be scared and we talked it up a lot. She has been asking to take the bus for some time but it clenched it for us when they rented a a better, safer bus, and we found out our friend and neighbor Hadija rides the bus everyday with the children to keep the chaos at a minimum and help the smaller kids. This is a huge blessing since she can watch out for Miss Annikah. Anni was timid and a bit shy when we first got on but after Jabril climbed on board she was giggles the rest of the way. Which brings me to my next point: I think we can officially say Miss Anni has her first crush. Everyday when she comes home she has some sort of story about Jabril did this, they played this, he laughed when she said this. Yep, it is serious. Last week when I was visiting a friend Jabril was playing outside and asked me “Annikah yupo wapi?” (where is Annikah?). When I came home and told Anni she said “really, he asked that.” I was stunned since tons of people everyday greet her or ask about her but she folded her hands over her mouth and giggled upon hearing he wanted to see her. Then at our grand opening a women came up and introduced herself to me as Jabril’s mother and she said she just had to meet me since all Jabril talks about is Annikah so I think it is safe to say the feeling is mutual. So, back to the bus…once Jabril boarded the bus and sat next to Anni she was giggling and having a blast the whole way. When we arrived and everyone got off the bus she headed to her classroom without even saying goodbye to me since she was already hanging with her rafiki. Evy and I will walk down to the bus stop in a few hours and hear the tales of the bus ride home. Prayers that it goes well and Anni continues to thrive.
She is a big school- going, crush-getting girl! Ah!!
Anni and said crush