Bilingual school, Home-school, and International school, Oh my: 4 Perspectives on Schooling Overseas

Crystal, Mom of 2 in China

Evie goes to a bilingual kindergarten 5 days a week. They are taught a little bit of English everyday, but mostly taught and spoken to in Chinese. She has picked up so much of the language this way! I also homeschool her 2 days a week, so that she’s learning subjects like language arts and Bible. She goes to a homeschool co-op every Friday and loves that, too!



Amy, Mom of 5 in South Africa

It was important to us when we moved to South Africa that our kids be able to find friends and participate in normal activities and, believe it or not, Rugby soon became normal and loved. Our kids have learned so much about South African culture and have made and developed wonderful friendships. We have been blessed with some wonderful teachers and they have helped our children progress well in their education.

South Africa has 11 national languages, most people speak 2 fluently. Our city has 3 majority languages English, Afrikaans and Xhosa. English is targeted in all the school as the focus language and they actually have rules that prohibit the other two from being spoken, except in the class specific for that language.

This has been very challenging for our older kids as their classes were already very advanced. We also have no reliable public bus system and getting 5 kids to and from school all with different time schedules is difficult.

Our next school year will be during furlough, and we will homeschool. We have picked out curriculum and are excited about teaching American history and focusing on some things that a traditional school does not teach. We will just take each year on a year-by-year basis and even a child-by-child basis.



Natasha, Mom of 3 girls in China

We have homeschooled, but I was able to get Ava into one of the best private Chinese schools in the city last year. We did it for language but ended  learning so much about Chinese life. It was such a helpful experience for our family in reaching the Chinese and people were really moved that we would put our children in a Chinese school.

The school was far away- 45 minutes each way on a bus, and she was gone for almost the entire day and that was a challenge for our family. Ministry often calls for late nights and spontaneous trips, and this is really hard with school. Homeschooling all weekend was slo required because class during the week was all in Chinese.

The reason we took Ava out of Chinese school was because after first grade they would be memorizing more communist propaganda, and we didn’t feel comfortable with Ava spending all day studying these things.

This year, Christian workers in Dalian opened a Bilingual International school. After much prayer, we felt we should take this opportunity. You have to have a foreign passport to attend (though few speak English). The kids are taught in English half the day and Chinese  half the day; it is truly bilingual. We are really happy with it and realize this is a very rare opportunity! The need for additional homeschooling has nearly been eliminated.

We have zero regrets about Chinese school. There were a lot uncomfortable moments, but there were so many times I would leave the school in tears thanking God for the opportunity to be a part of the school community there! It really made our entire family feel even more at home here in Dalian.

When we started seeing the girls’ schooling as one year at a time, we started to enjoy it more.



Rebecca, Mom of 4 in Burkina Faso

We started all ours off in preschool here just to help them have some socialization and learn to speak the language. I didn’t really care what they learned to read or write. I just wanted them to feel more at home here.

got the teacher’s books and taught them from K through fourth grade, then switched to videos in fifth grade because I couldn’t keep up. Now that the older three are on videos, I still have to check their work and give help as needed, but I am free to give Caleb the extra help he needs.

Homeschool provides the flexibility needed for me AND the children to participate in certain activities in the ministry. You just have to have the discilpline to make sure that it’s done and people have to understand you are working when you are at the house.

A new Christian school for MKs opened up a few years ago, but it would mean immersing myself in the expat culture and take our focus from being with our church people. We have a homeschool co-op. that meets 3 or 4 times a year and our kids really enjoy it. It’s like we really get the best of both worlds. They can go be “American” and do fun things with other expats without pulling away from the culture here.


We hope you have enjoyed this Behind the Scenes look into schooling over-seas, and we trust that you will be praying with us over the education of the many Missionary Kids represented by our writers, as well as those y0u meet in your churches and online communities.

We pray that you would see our hearts for our children and service to the Lord. So often these two seem to be at odds with each other, and we are left discouraged and unsure of our decisions as missionary parents.

May we all strive to honor the Lord in the raising of our children and our out-reach to those we encounter along the way. Please share with us in the comment section what the school year 2016 holds for you and your prayers for your children this year.


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  • 9 thoughts on “Bilingual school, Home-school, and International school, Oh my: 4 Perspectives on Schooling Overseas

    1. Thank you everyone who contributed here! It’s so helpful to great about the different things you guys are doing and the fact that you can change as you go.

    2. I enjoyed and learned from this well-written and educational article. I am a single lady serving in Mexico to teach the children of the missionary and any couples who may enroll in our language school while preparing for the mission field. This year, we opened English Kindergarten to our church members and we have three students from Spanish-speaking only families. I oversee an ACE Learning Center for English-speaking families into which we hope to integrate these Kindergarteners.
      I am sure that these parents are just as passionate and concerned as those contributing to this article, so I am even more resolved to do and be everything possible to equip our next generation with the tools they need to further the cause of Christ.

    3. Wow! What great insights you brought to the conversation! I reached out to one missionary who is doing school like you are helping with there. She wasn’t able to respond in time for this but hopefully I can get her thoughts together for another post. Thanks for your comment. Sounds like you’re doing a great job. I’m sure they are very thankful for your ministry. Keep clicking around here for ministry encouragement and please like our FB page. God bless.

      1. Thank you. I’m a regular reader and am much encouraged by these posts. I think of myself more of a teacher on the mission field than an actual missionary. However, I do miss the states and feel the frustration at times and appreciate the ministry of the blog.

        1. So great to hear! I’m sure all lives you touch there are blessed by your ministry. We don’t have a single voice on this page anymore. Please be in contact about what you’d like to see here or if you’d like to help us work on something!

    4. Cool to see the different perspectives! We used to live in China, and our toddler son spoke Chinese quite fluently from playing outside with friends. We would have probably sent him to a Chinese preschool/kindergarten then pulled him out to homeschool during grade school. As it was, we left when he was three. Thanks for sharing at the #LMMLinkup. Come back often!

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