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How to Homeschool While Living Overseas

Just like no two kids are alike, not every international school is created equal either. Some international schools may lack the religious convictions an expatriate  family (American family living overseas) is searching for. Or the school may have a twenty-three-kids-to-a-class ratio that you are uncomfortable with. Others may not provide the services we find in most U.S. public schools; like quality programs for children with learning disabilities, a good environment for a physical disability, or perhaps the school is not challenging enough. In some of the more remote places of the world there is no international school at all.  Whatever the reason may be for finding an alternative to the local school, homeschooling can be a very good solution for families living overseas and it can be accomplished with just a little bit of creativity and the right kind of information.

What is Overseas Homeschooling?

Homeschooling overseas is much like homeschooling is in the U.S.  Instead of being taught in a traditional school setting, the child is taught from home.

Who Will Teach My Child?

There's more than one right answer to this question. It just depends on what works best for both you and your child.  Many parents in the United States reserve the position as "teacher" for themselves. But living overseas with corporate benefits that cover tuition costs, many "expats" are open to another interesting concept -- hiring a teacher or tutor to do the teaching for them.

Hiring someone outside of the family to do the teaching offers some great advantages.

1. Having a teacher who is familiar with learning disabilities or the challenges of teaching a gifted child can relieve a lot of the pressure, especially if the diagnosis is new.

2. When living internationally and away from family and friends, your personal social life will never be more important.  Remaining active and social is a critical element to overcoming culture shock.  Having an outside teacher and a good homeschool schedule can create a healthy balance for the entire family.

How Can You Afford to Pay for a Private Teacher?

Many employers are open to using the tuition that would normally be applied towards a very expensive international school (where tuition can run into many thousands of dollars a year per child), and putting it towards homeschooling instead.  Explain your situation to your employer and ask for what may be considered a special consideration. It's important to remember that most companies have placed a large investment in their international service employees who themselves have committed to three to five year assignments.  Employers choose to be more flexible under those circumstances.

Which Accredited Homeschool Curriculum Should I Choose?

Calvert School

Calvert offers nine "enrollment privileges": Access to Education Counselors; Free standard shipping on curriculum materials, including all core courses and enrichment products; My Calvert, your personalized on line resource center, which is populated with tools to enhance and reinforce your child's education; i-Library, which provides access to Calvert Reference Tools and supplemental on line activities that are grade-specific and interactive; Technical Support for all of your Calvert software applications, included as part of enrollment; Calvert Connection, our quarterly newsletter that celebrates Calvert School students' accomplishments and includes student artwork, photos, stories, poems, ATS honor roll, and more; Online parent Bulletin Boards for families to connect with one another and with Calvert's staff, to ask questions, to obtain information and opinions, and to share their insights and experiences; A personalized Student Identification Card affording discounts to software, bookstores, and other national retailers; access to the Advisory Teaching Service, which is an optional service available exclusively to enrolled students. For information on Calvert's international program visit: http://www.calvertschool.org/engine/content.do

Laurel Springs School

Laurel Springs is a distance learning school that offers several different types of curricula, as well as accreditation, all records, transcripts, diplomas and support. It's a good choice for kids with specific learning needs for three main reasons:

1) The Learning Styles Profile Test.  According to the L.S.S. website, "the profile measures five key learning style categories: Disposition (learning personality), Talents, Interests, Environment, and Modality (information processing)."  The exam is completed by the student over the Internet with the guidance of a parent or teacher, the test is then sent via email to be interpreted by a L.S. S. Learning Specialist. The results are later conveyed personally to the parents over the phone and a curriculum, as well as teaching suggestions based on the results of the Learning Styles Profile.  These specialists are also open to answering any future questions -- an especially helpful service when the homeschool teacher has run into problems explaining a new concept to the student and needs suggestions.

2) Teacher servicesLaurel Springs offers support to teaching parents and tutors, depending on the level of support you choose (level A, B, or C), and includes frequent one-on-one teacher interaction via email or over the phone. This is an invaluable tool for those who choose to teach their own child, as it provides teaching and instruction support throughout the semester (or year) to the parent by a certified teacher who follows the child from year to year, providing the teaching parent with consistency.

3) Laurel Springs offers flexibility.  It is up to you and your L.S. teacher as to how to send in samples of your child's work, when and how often.  They are sympathetic to the challenges of doing such business from a foreign country and are very understanding when mail doesn't arrive exactly when planned.

Ablaze Academy

Ablaze Academy offers an accredited academic program that allows students to complete all classes from anywhere there is a computer and at their own pace.

Everything is delivered straight to your computer, from lessons to tests to progress reports. There are no books or CDs to purchase.

Accredited classes are available in every subject from grade K1 through 12. Courses can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from anywhere there is a computer and a connection to the Internet. You can speak to the tutor over a mike or "chat" by keyboard. The tutor sees what you mark or write on your screen and vice versa.  You receive the help you need, then simply click out and continue with your work. Use the tutors as often as needed. They are available until 1 A.M. These tutors are experts and available in each subject.  Ablaze Academy also helps at-risk students with remedial help in reading, writing, spelling, science, English, math, and social studies.

Keystone National High School

Today, more than 20,000 students are enrolled at Keystone National High School.

The benefits of using Keystone: It's accredited and they have 30 Years of Distance Learning Experience.  They are flexible with an open enrollment and students can study at their own time and pace.  Graduates receive a valid high school diploma. Past students have been accepted at over 140 colleges and universities through an award-winning Program and Curriculum.  Keystone can also help with credit completion.

Time4Learning

Time4Learning is a convenient, online home school curriculum that combines education with interactive fun. Time4Learning's online learning system (an implementation of CompassLearning Odyssey®) teaches language arts, math, science, and social studies, preschool to eighth grade.  Kids like using the computer to learn

The Time4Learning homeschooling curriculum gives students independence as they progress at their own pace. Parents like that it tracks progress through the curriculum and helps kids advance by teaching with individualized curriculum that assures mastery of the skills and concepts that makes kids succeed. Time4Learning is proven effective, has a low monthly price, and provides a money-back guarantee so you can make sure that it works for your kids, risk free.

"Time4Learning is a great homeschool education partner because it offers each child their own learning path, with animated lessons, interactive activities, unit assessments, and integrated printable worksheets for reinforcement."

The Christian Liberty Academy School System

The Christian Liberty Academy School System (CLASS) is an independent and non-denominational K–12 home school program. CLASS was established in 1967 by Dr. Paul Lindstrom (1939–2002), a pioneer of the modern home school movement. CLASS has helped thousands of families to get started—and succeed—in home schooling. Today, CLASS consists of thousands of home schools throughout the United States and around the world, with students ranging in age from four to adult. CLASS graduates are being accepted by leading colleges, universities, and military academies.

How It Works

When you enroll, CLASS assembles the curriculum best fitted for your child based on achievement test scores and other academic information. Books and materials are chosen from a variety of carefully selected publishers. After you begin working with our curriculum, you may request a curriculum adjustment if necessary—at no extra cost. We include management tools such as our CLASS Handbook and Lesson Planner (book or CD) to help you organize and document your school year. Our Customer Service Department answers questions about the administration of your school.

Accreditation

Christian Liberty does not seek accreditation. Given the state of public education in America, our academy sincerely believes that it is responsible to promote education reform by setting a higher standard—to lead, rather than to follow the crowd. Most schools accept our credits. Those who do not immediately accept our credits will do so after administering an achievement test, receiving information about our course requirements, and seeing the quality of the child's education.

Citizens' High School

Since 1981, Citizens' High School provides quality coursework for people to earn an actual high school diploma, not a GED, from an Accredited High School Program.  Citizens' High School serves a wide variety of special groups: teenagers from home school families in all 50 states; children of American families living overseas; students unable to pursue their education in a resident setting due to unique personal situations, family or work commitments, illness, or handicaps; and professional athletes and entertainers. The program is designed for self-paced learning, with no school-imposed time constraints for completing a course. Citizens' High School provides a 9th - 12th grade high school diploma program accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council.

Global Student Network

Global Student Network is the Value and Quality leader of Virtual Curriculum for grades 2-12. Each of the 85+ courses was developed by a nationally certified teacher. Delivered via the internet, courses are accessible 24/7. Fully customizable for every student's unique learning needs.

Find out why over 10,000 families and students worldwide have chosen Global Student Network as their On-line Homeschool Curriculum.

  • Approved by the U.S. Department of State for overseas families, International IDEA, World-Wide IDEA, and over 185 public school districts.
  • High quality, standards based curriculum gives families all the tools they need to provide for their children's educational needs.
  • Homeschool parents are enrolled in the "teachers" module, which includes the answer keys.
  • Global Student Network provides course selection assistance, transcripts, certificates of completion, and diplomas for the parents to issue to their children.
  • How it Works

  • License fee includes unlimited courses for the duration of the 365 day license. Students can select new courses as they complete.
  • Check out Global Student Network free on-line demo. Use the student, parent and teacher modules to see how students complete and submit assignments, and the lessons appear to be graded, including the answer keys.
  • Submit the on-line enrollment form, and your student will be enrolled within 24 hours of processing. Parents will receive "teacher" and student passwords via e-mail.
  • Remember...

    When using a distance learning school, keep in mind that unlike a traditional school, the only person responsible for making sure grades and transcripts are complete is you.  Homeschooling requires more than just teaching on your part; it requires following up with the distance school to make sure your child's work has been received, evaluated and given a documented grade.  And continue to follow up until you know that the school on the other end has done their job.

    What Does "Accreditation" Mean?

    It means that the homeschool has been inspected by an outside, independent agency who has determined it to meet accepted standards for schools. These standards include the seriousness of the course of studies, the managing of academic records, accounting practices, and business practices.

    What do I Need to Begin Homeschooling overseas?

    1. A teacher

    If you choose to be the teacher, move on to step number two, but if you've decided to hire, then you need to begin looking for a teacher soon.

    Where to find a teacher:

    To find someone outside of your home to guide both you and your child through the homeschool process, you'll need to first determine what kind of a teacher you'll need. Maybe it's someone familiar with learning disabilities or a particular style of teaching. If so, then get as close to the source as you can. For example, an after school tutor, the unemployed spouse of a school teacher or friend, a stay at home mom/ex teacher looking for part time work, or try recruiting a budding teacher from a local teacher training school.

    But by far the most effective way to find anything out while overseas, is through the word of mouth that the expatriate community is so famous for -- especially among U.S. embassy employees where people are coming and going all the time.  Try advertising in the local American/Canadian/Australian/British Association monthly newsletters. Advertising for members is often free.

    When making the final decision of which person to hire, always remember that trust in this situation is vital.  The homeschool teacher will be alone with your child much of the time and the quality of work your child puts out will be a direct reflection of the quality of teacher you have hired. He or she must be someone who comes highly recommended (ask for references) with a clean track record and qualified to teach in the manner you see fit. Good chemistry between the outside teacher and your child is also very important, but the chemistry you have with the teacher is just as important. You will be spending a lot of time together.

    2. Space.

    You will need one room in the house for home schooling purposes only; preferably a space that will remain toy and interference free.

    3. Supplies.

    A communication note book (if someone other than yourself is teaching), a white board (You can go to a local hardware store's cut wood section and find wall size white boards that you can hang on our classroom wall), craft/art supplies, a homework reward chart, a large desk with plenty of light, and a computer. Sometimes families living outside the U.S. may have trouble finding atlases, maps and posters, even the right kind of handwriting notebooks so you may want to pick these up in an American school supply store before you leave. It will hardly cost a thing and will add very little weight to your probably already over-weight luggage.

    3. Text Books from an Accredited Distance Learning School.

    They will be sent to you as soon as tuition is received and although shipping overseas costs an arm and a leg, it's well worth it considering there are few alternatives.  Depending on where you live, having text books sent to a work address instead of a home can be a good idea, as delivery to the work place often is more reliable and the books are less likely to be stolen.

    5. A schedule.

    The beauty of homeschooling is that you can be flexible enough to be flexible.  A homeschooler's day is typically shorter than the traditional school day because of its condensed style of learning.  Many parents only need to devote three to four hours a day to structured learning, and their schedules vary depending on how many of their children are being home schooled or by when their child is most alert and at his best.

    6. Time.

    You will need to arrange your personal time accordingly.  If you will be teaching, all your out-of-house social activities and errands (coffees, lunches, lessons, the grocery store) will need to be scheduled before or after homeschool.  If you've hired a teacher, you may choose to be home at lunch time or to shuttle your child to after school activities.  Obviously, having an outside teacher offers more flexibility to the parent.

    7. When working with a hired teacher, you will need to establish some "house rules."

    A few situations to consider:

  • Personal phone and computer use. Make it clear when and where phone calls can be made, whose phone they should be made from and how and in what manner the computer should be used.
     
  • Lunch hour. Thirty to forty five minutes is a good lunch hour for the teacher and a good lunch and break/recess for your child. It's a good idea for teacher and student to eat and spend that time separately for a true break in the day.
     
  • Paid vacation and sick days. How many?  What are the guidelines for calling in sick?  How much time in advance should the teacher give for vacation days?
     
  • Tardies. What happens when the teacher arrives late several mornings in a row?
  • Get all house rules in writing to prevent future misunderstandings. 

    8. After establishing ground rules, you and your teacher will need to decide on responsibilities.

    Here is an example of an agreement between a family and their outside homeschool teacher:

    The Teacher's Responsibilities:

    1) To teach the curriculum while providing close guidance, to document his daily schedule and work completed.

    2) To assign and correct his homework

    3) To review and correct his work

    4) To write progress reports for the distance learning school teacher to view, as well as verbal progress reports for the parents.

    5) To communicate with the international school twice a semester to compare his progress with others in his grade level.

    6) To gather samples of his work to be sent in two to three times a semester for his Distance Learning teacher to view.

    7) To gather all completed work to be sent in for final evaluation and grading by the distance learning school.

    The Parent's Responsibilities:

    1) To support the teacher by providing all necessary supplies and an environment conducive to learning.

    2) To be a liaison between schools and teachers for questions and concerns.

    3) To collect work from the teacher and have them sent to the U.S.

    4) To make sure that every Sunday his classroom is completely organized and pencils are sharpened

    5) To read the communication notebook for homework assignments and assist him with his homework and reading.

    6) To make sure the teacher receives her paycheck every month, on time and we give her ample notice if he is sick.

    7) To have all extracurricular activities organized and documented as part of his packet to be sent back to the U.S. distance learning school.

    8) To provide daily lunches for him, as well as a supervised recess.

    9) Collect all school related receipts for employer reimbursement (including the teacher's paychecks).

     

    Once again, these responsibilities need to be in writing, and both teacher and parent should have a copy of the agreement on file.

    How do we keep a social balance for our homeschooled child?

    Socialization comes in many different forms for children -- birthday parties, sports, children of parents' work mates, play dates, organizations like Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts and of course, in the traditional school setting. Many parents are fearful of homeschooling because such a large part of children's socialization comes from their time spent with classmates.  And when living overseas, there is the additional fear that their child might miss out on making connections with the local culture. But with just a little creativity and asking around, a good balance can be found between homeschooling and friends.

    1. Just ask.

    If you were in the U.S., you might go to the local public school and ask to have your child participate in their physical education program or in the after school activities -- so why can't you do that right where you are now?  By approaching the principal or headmaster and explaining your homeschool situation, chances are they will be happy to include your child in the school's after school activities (this is especially so if the child has siblings already attending the school).  Being a part of the international schools (or other local English taught schools) after school programs not only gives your son or daughter a chance to make friends, but also helps them pick up what they might be missing at home -- art, sports and a language. (* The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America are truly global organizations, tending to be non-school affiliated, meaning that generally speaking, no special arrangements need to be made with the host school -- only with the leaders.)

    2. Encourage "play dates."

    Once a week, have your child pick a friend to come over and play.

    3. Consider adding other children to your homeschool.

    Chances are you're not the only one experiencing a school crisis, so why not add another child to the home school environment you've already created?  You'd not only be helping someone else but giving your child a classmate or two, and if you plan to return to a traditional school in the future it encourages a more realistic school environment with noises and raised hands.

    4. Some employers will pay for activities that would normally take place in a traditional school setting.

    Once again, ask around.  Find out what some of your child's closest friends are doing and enroll him in the same sport or organization, either in a school or through a club or gym.  And to step outside the "expatriate bubble" for a few hours a week, try finding an instructor that teaches in the country's native language and where team mates are most likely made up of different nationalities.

    Places Where Parents can Find Support and Guidance

    Support can come from the teacher you correspond with at the distance learning school (to make international phone calls cheaper, check out Vonage  and Skype ), international and national online support, websites meant to lend a helping hand to parents of children with learning disabilities, homeschool newsletters, books  (Amazon.com delivers internationally with no hassles and usually within the week) and other parents of local homeschooled children. Seek out and use these resources, especially as problems arise to find or offer new solutions. Good luck and enjoy!

     


       
     

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