Selecting the Right Education on the Field

By Kyle W. Smith
Former Director of Marketing, United World Mission

Raising support, moving and getting adjusted to life is challenging enough for missionaries. Then, focusing on ministry, language learning and cultural immersion raises a whole new set of challenges for individuals and families serving cross-culturally. Life can be particularly challenging for parents and their children.

Preschool children doing activities.

Thankfully, there are programs such as CIT’s Kids Program that helps kids prepare for their life on the field. CIT believes that children need to feel secure and better informed about their role as a Third Culture Kid (TCK). Often, children have many questions about their future home, friends, and more that go unspoken. Programs like this enable children to explore and verbalize their concerns through Bible study, Bible memory, culturally relevant books, DVDs, games, crafts from other lands, art, music, food, and plenty of discussion about what life will be like as a TCK.

But what about their education once immersed in a new city, town or village? Should your child go to a local school, Christian school, private school or even be home schooled? Education systems differ all over the world and parents still have to figure out the best solution for their family. Wendy Grams, a teacher with her Masters of Arts in Education from Montreat College says there can be additional challenges as well.

“Children learn in different ways and have different kinds of intelligences. I have worked with children who are visual spatial, kinesthetic, auditory, or visual learners. Through my research I have learned that there are different intelligences which include musical, artistic, and humor. Tapping into these intelligences help children to learn more easily,” says Grams.

Besides her research, Grams has vast personal experience with international education. Originally from South Africa and raising two boys in Croatia and the U.S., Grams understands the challenges. “Personally, we have experienced boarding school, national school, private school, Christian school, and home school.”

Seeing a need to provide resources for parents, Wendy Grams started the blog Rachel’s Learning Village. With an abundance of resources ranging from overseas school systems to college prep, Gram’s blog is certainly a great place to start to explore options for your child’s education overseas.

Other resources are providing that bridge for families as they serve in missions. Eagle Christian School has been providing classes online since 1996 – that’s longer than most organizations have had an online presence. Started by Valley Christian School in Missoula, Montana, a school that has been ministering to students for over 35 years, the online school is now providing a quality education in a distance learning format.

No matter your challenge, one thing is certain: you have to figure out what works well for your family. We know that God provides in many ways as you follow Him into the world. Pray for wisdom and guidance and seek out resources from those that have been there before.