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About This Blog

This blog is for anyone interested in raising their children in a foreign language--meaning a language which neither of the parents speak natively.
We have used the approach where both parents speak the target foreign language (in our case, German) to the children. Neither of us is a native German speaker, yet we have spoken German in our home for the past 20 years and have 8 German speaking children. In this blog, we hope to share our successes, our lessons learned and a few of the insights that we've gained along the way.

More Homeschool Thoughts--Splitting it Up and Getting the Best of Both Worlds?

For the past year or so, I've been mulling a bunch of thoughts around in my head regarding home school, alternative school, private school, public school, etc. (home school thoughts). And I've been having a hard time making up my mind because what I want doesn't exist in our area. What I really want is the same type of schooling I had growing up. I wish that the school day was shorter...much shorter. The small school that I attended in Germany started at 8 am and got out at noon. That gave us time to come home, eat lunch with our families, do our homework and still have time to play. I would love to have an option like that for my kids, but I don't. I can't find anything like that around. So, I've been trying hard to come up with a best alternative.

So excited for 1st grade
There are a few things that I'm considering as I've been mulling this over. First off, I want to say that I don't dislike public school. In fact, there are a lot of things that I like about having my kids attend our local school. I like the sense of community. I like that they get to know the local kids and families. I like that they meet new friends. I like that they learn kid social rules and that they learn to get along with children from different backgrounds. I like that they are exposed to different kinds of teachers and teaching styles. And, in our particular case, I like that school helps them to learn English (real "kid-English"). It helps them to learn to pick up on social cues and kid-appropriate language. School helps them become a little bit more "socially savvy" in a kid sort of way. And my kids actually need that more than other kids, because we don't get any "kid-English" at home. It's all German.

So, why not just be happy sending them to school. Well, besides the problem of them being gone ALL day (which is a big deal to me), I also have some other issues. One is that I want to teach them to become literate in German (I already wrote all about this in another post). And I need WAY more time than the few hours after school and before bedtime. Not only do I want to work on reading and writing in German, but we are playing with the idea of teaching them French, too. I'd also love for them to have some more time to learn piano, do sports and dance and still have time to play. The "play" part is also a big deal to me.

Two cute Kinders ready to
meet their teacher.
So, how am I going to solve this dilemma? Well, since I can't have my ideal situation: 1/2 day school, I've decided on what I think is the best alternative: 1/2 year school. So, for now (and this plan could change depending on how I feel in a few months), I have decided that I will send the 3 Littles (my younger batch of kids) to school through December. And after Christmas break, we'll start our homeschooling adventure. And next fall, I'll probably send them back to school again and then maybe pull them out again the following December. That is the plan I've come up with...no promises or guarantees that we'll stick to it. But, at least it's a plan. 

Why does this crazy plan appeal to me. Well, for starters, they get the excitement of the first day and weeks of school. It's been so fun seeing the anticipation of my little people as they've been preparing for school. They loved getting their backpacks ready. They loved their meet and greet with their Kindergarten teacher and finding their cubbies. Jonathan loved finding out which friends were in his first grade class and seeing them again after the long summer. They also love the excitement of riding on the bus. They especially love feeling grown up and having the "school" experience.  

Initially, I thought about sending them to public school for a few years and then pulling them out in 2nd or 3rd grade to focus on German for a year or two. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that by waiting that long, I might miss the (language) boat. I don't want to pass up that amazing language acquisition window (it starts closing around age 8-10). Right now they are at an age where they are literally little language sponges. If I wait a few years, I run the risk that learning new languages might not come as naturally. Plus, they might start rejecting German (after going to school for a few years) and choose to speak mostly English at home. That would make it much more difficult to try and pull off homeschooling in German--at the very least, it would make our time less effective. This is the same reason why I don't want to pull them out of school completely. That same language window helps them to acquire better English, as well. So, I've got to use the "window" while it's open, which is why I'm so anxious to use this time to soak up as much language learning as possible. 

Christmas break seems like a great time to pull them out. Once January hits, there really isn't that much going on at school---so, they'll miss the class Valentines party (I can live with that)! It'll be much easier to do school work at home in the winter when the sunshine isn't tempting them to go play outside. The winter months are cold, dark and rainy where we live and that seems like the perfect time to sit and read books in front of the fire with mom. No one really likes leaving the house on winter mornings to go to school. Even my teenagers look longingly at the roaring fire and the cozy family room and wish they could just stay home. It'll be a good time to get some serious homeschooling accomplished...and still give the kids time to build cushion forts, do crafts, and just enjoy cuddling together in front of the fire.

So, that's the plan. And I'm getting pretty excited about it. I've already started collecting teaching materials. I'm excited to try homeschooling and I'm especially excited about doing it in German (and adding some more French)! I'm excited about all the possibilities and about spending time with my kiddos! I'm just so excited to see where this new adventure will take us. Did I mention that I was excited???


Rich and Jess said...

We will meet up with you guys for a valentines party! ;) Claire would love it!

Nick said...

If you really want to focus on the language, I'd recommend keeping them out of public school for a bit. The socialization is great, but it will be much harder to keep their language focus as they'll want to speak English mostly. You can always supplement with play groups and things. I find that the hardest part is that my daughter can't speak to the other kids when we do get together with English speakers.

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