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Globetrotting and Homeschooling and More, Oh My!

Globetrotting and Homeschooling and More, Oh My!

By Mir Kamin

Got tweens/teens? We’re trying a new advice column here at Alpha Mom to address your questions for the older-kid crowd. We hope you enjoy! And if you have a question to submit, hit me up at alphamomteens[at]gmail[dot]com.

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A writes:

So I don’t have teenagers, but I think this is an issue you may be able to give me some advice on. My husband is currently in Singapore for work. He will get home in December because we are surprising the kids with a trip to Hawaii for Christmas. He will then go back to Singapore again in January for at least three more months.

We have four kids (ages 9, 7, 5 & 3). I work full time, but it’s almost all remotely. I am debating taking the kids out of school and joining my husband in January. I would still be able to work over there, and would have to homeschool the kids. I have a Masters in education, so I am not terribly worried about that aspect. My husband will be working extremely long hours and we would be renting a tiny apartment. I think it would be a great opportunity for all of us, but it would be a long time to be away from home (it could end up stretching much longer). In theory I could come home with the kids earlier, but it would be very difficult to make that trip alone (we live on the East Coast so it’s a 24+ trip).

My biggest hesitation is what to do when we come back if it actually is as early as April. I don’t think it would be good to re-enroll the kids in school that late in the year. I think they would all have a really hard time coming back and not having their activities and school to go to. I wouldn’t mind homeschooling them abroad, but I am not cut out to do that on a full time basis. Do you have any thoughts on this or ideas I haven’t thought of? What would you recommend?

Huh. This is a really interesting proposition. I am so much a creature of habit and routine that I cannot even imagine packing up my family and heading to Singapore for an indefinite period of time, but I think it’s awesome that you’re trying to figure out how it could work (seriously). You’re right—this sounds like one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

My first suggestion would be to sit down as a couple (if your kids were older, I would say “as a family,” but they’re all young enough, I think this is you and your husband) and discuss logistics. That includes everything from the physical travel back and forth to how you’ll handle your living space back here in the States while you’re gone to how tiny of an apartment are we talking about, anyway? There’s opportunity and there’s reality. Be brutally honest with yourself and each other in this conversation: Are we talking a one-bedroom apartment for six people? Is that really going to work for more than about a week? How do you manage healthcare while you’re there? Do your husband’s work hours mean you’re completely on your own with the kids, and does homeschooling them mean you’ll have trouble connecting with others? What are your available avenues for support in that scenario? Can you really homeschool four children and continue working full-time? (No judgment from me; I homeschooled one kid and worked full-time and found it exhausting, though.) This is the first conversation (and really, it’s probably a series of conversations) I’d recommend.

Second, I would make sure your statement about how you would “have to homeschool the kids” is, indeed, correct. Is that because you cannot afford school tuition? Have you looked into that? I’m a fan of whatever sort of schooling works best for any given family, but to take your kids halfway around the world and change their mode of schooling is a giant, two-pronged shift. So I’d want to be 100% certain that was the only logical path, if it was me.

Third, assuming you get through all of that and still think this is the way to proceed, I would discuss the schooling aspect, specifically. If you pack and up go and homeschool while there, what are your options? You say you’re comfortable doing it abroad but don’t want to do it “on a full time basis.” I am confused about why it would be any different to continue back home for another month (or two or three), if need be, just to finish out the academic year. I agree that if you return in April, tossing them back in public school for a few months seems like it would be hard. On the other hand, that’s going to depend on your kids; while I think that would be a terrible scenario for a middle or high schooler, for elementary kids…? Meh. You probably could put them right back in their old schools without much of an issue (unless your individual kids would struggle with that, in which case the move-across-the-globe-and-homeschool approach will likely also be difficult). If you came back before the semester was over here in the U.S., your options are: 1) put the kids back in their old schools, 2) continue homeschooling until the school year concludes, or 3) put them into new schools. I think we can all agree that option 3 is probably a bad idea, but I’m not sure I see a clear winner between options 1 and 2. It’s just going to depend on you and your kids. Some people would need to have this decision made before they leave; others would be okay deciding when they return. You’re the only one who knows which camp you belong to. Bear in mind that either way, there are plenty of “spring activities” that will be just starting up in that timeframe, so even if you were reluctant to put them back in school, one assumes there are sports and other extracurriculars they could join at that point.

Bottom line: I think you’re very brave to consider this adventure, and I’d simply caution against assuming there’s only one “right” way to do it. Be realistic about what will work for your family and know that most decisions can be changed if they turn out not to be ideal; you can come back intending to continue homeschooling and switch back to public school, or vice versa. Assess your family’s basic level of adaptability and proceed from there. You’ll figure it out. Best of luck and please let me know how it goes if you decide to take the plunge!

Photo source: Depositphotos.com/rastudio

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Mir Kamin
About the Author

Mir Kamin

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now ...

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now her life looks very different than it did back then: Those little kids turned into anything-but-regular teenagers, she is remarried, and somehow she’s become one of those people who talks to her dogs in a high-pitched baby voice. Along the way she’s continued chronicling the everyday at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, plus she’s bringing you daily bargain therapy at Want Not. The good news is that Mir grew up and became a writer and she still really likes hanging out with her kids; the bad news is that her hair is a lot grayer than it used to be.

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Comments

  • Nicole Mattox

    I attended Singapore American School for one year of high school and absolutely loved it. Check into whether or not a semester there is a possibility!

  • Bethany

    Homeschool grad here – my dad was military, so we moved every 2-3 years. One benefit of homeschooling is the ability to set your own start and end dates for the school year. One year, we knew we’d be moving overseas shortly after the traditional end of the school year, so we doubled up on some lessons and finished the year in April. If you think this is the right decision for your family, you could even take a two month break in April-May in lieu of summer and pick schoolwork back up when you get settled that summer.

  • Vickie

    We had a family at our school who did this type of over seas move and the home town school teachers supplied the kids’ lesson plans. So the kids stayed on track with the rest of their classmates (for their core curriculum) and then just stepped right back into class upon their return.

    Personally, reading the original note, my biggest concern would be the husband’s hours. It sounds as if the situation would turn into single parenting while there. And that seems like a difficult thing for everyone. In his off hours, it would likely be he would just need to sleep. . .

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  • Stacy

    My husband is in the military and we now live in Japan. We had been homeschooling, but I was worried about my daughter making friends. Turns out there’s a HUGE homeschooling community here. If you have a FB account, ask if anyone knows anyone homeschooling in Singapore. I found several homeschool families that way. If part of the desire to move is to experience the culture, you may just have to admit that your kids will only be schooled in history/culture while you live there, and then play catch-up when you get back to the states. Homeschooling is a lot harder than you think (unless you’re using all computer based lessons), and with four kids and working full-time, you might not ever leave that tiny little apartment. You need to establish what your goals are for moving: if it’s just to see your husband, than it may not be a big deal, but if you want to experience life over-seas, you may be biting off more than you can chew. However, like Bethany said, in homeschooling, you set your own schedule. Also, don’t forget to look up the laws for homeschooling in Singapore. Just because you’re not a citizen, doesn’t mean you don’t have to follow those.

  • Alecia Ramsay

    My SIL & her daughters moved to Singapore for her husband’s job a few years ago & liked it so much they extended their stay as long as possible (they are back in the US now). They really liked the international school the girls went to. Public transportation is really easy, they just had 1 car for her husband’s commute out of the city. The small apartment with 4 kids while homeschooling & working full time would be extremely challenging for me. I would look into school options for the kids, for sure.