SRI LANKA: What do You do When you Chose the Wrong School?

SRI LANKA: What do You do When you Chose the Wrong School?

What are you supposed to do when you can tell that the school your kids are in isn’t exactly what you’d like a school to be like? Not everyone has the luxury of just moving kids from school to school just because they don’t like it. I am thankful that our constant nomadic lifestyle let’s me make drastic decisions like taking the kids out of school and doing a year of homeschooling before moving on to the next country. The road of decisions getting here wasn’t exactly easy though.

Basically, we’ve taken the kids out of school and I’ve given up my free time so I can homeschool them as best I can. Everyone gets up later now and I admit it take lots of patience to get them interested in anything but I’m trying and I hope the decision was a good one. Whenever I think of the teachers notebook slapping my son, it becomes completely worth it

Before

For about a year I managed to get up before 6 am to wrangle my kids out of bed, into uniforms and every day was tougher than the next. It was hard for me to hear the little one cry every day about not wanting to go and how much she hated it. The older one put up with the daily routine but grew to also hate it. We all ended up hating it.

I obviously put up with it because well, school life is like that right? You get up unwillingly and go to school and go on with your life. But something just wasn’t clicking.

When we were in Bali they loved their school. The little one was allowed to go in pyjamas with the uniform in her bag and the teacher would dress her nicely and even braid her hair into “elsa” braids. My son has always been rambunctious but not once did they notebook slap him across the head there.

The year they spent in the Cambridge style school here in Colombo could have easily been a torture for them and I was telling them to suck it up because I needed my space.

Insert the mom guilt.

Those five free hours in the morning were mine, all mine and no one else’s! But things just kept getting worse. My daughter was constantly picked on by a little boy, every single day and the teacher took months to finally intervene. She was miserable and her only friends would switch to Sinhalese at any time, leaving her out of conversations.

The first day I took the kids to that school, it had me wondering; a first grade teacher was yelling at the top of her lungs about rules while the kids sat as still as possible in their seats in a room way too hot for comfort. I sort of brushed if off because it was the end of the school year, but later I feel bad that my kids had to put up with these teachers for a whole year.

I can’t tell you if the teachers are bad or just have had too much, they were nice sometimes and horrible other times. My son got notebook slapped quite a few times because he was tired of writing. My daughter was told to put her head down if she didn’t want to work. She wasn’t given other choices, like coloring or puzzle building. She was four.

Are all “academic style” schools like this now?
Forcing four year olds to write and read by the time they are five?

So, I took them out of school completely. I sent an email to the school which they never answered back, not even with a “bye bye it was nice to have you here”, nothing. Good Riddance, I say.

We are Expat Homeschoolers once again.

My son has come to hate the art of writing but he loves making up stories, my daughter says “no pencils allowed” everyday and I have to figure out other things to do with her. She will trace letters but won’t let me tell them what they are. She still can’t count to ten properly but you know what? I doesn’t matter, she will learn eventually. I have a feeling one year in that school has left a bit of a mark that now I have to erase.

I’ve lost those five free hours that I used to have but at least my kids aren’t being forced to spend their day in a hot uncomfortable room being picked on for being different and made to work incessantly with a fear of notebook slaps!

How do you feel about your kids’ school? Do you ever just want to take them out and do the schooling yourself? I know I have the luxury of doing something like that, and I am thankful to be able to.

Orana Velarde

Orana is a Writer, Artist, Mother and Wife; Peruvian Expat currently living in Sri Lanka with her husband and children. She writes on her blog Crazy Little Family Adventure about Worldschooling her kids and the trials and tribulations of being an Expat Mom.

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SRI LANKA: Heavy Backpacks and Uniforms

SRI LANKA: Heavy Backpacks and Uniforms

Kids are out on holiday for the next two weeks. Funny how it’s Easter Holidays in some places, Spring Break in others, and here it’s the Buddhist New Year. In the end it doesn’t really matter what it is I’m just glad I don’t have to wake up at 6 am to convince my kids to eat something before heading out dragging heavy backpacks and in my son’s case;  an uncomfortable uniform and terrible shoes.

I still can’t believe my 4.5 year old daughter brought home SPELLING homework for the holidays. I’m in shock as to why she would need to do spelling at that age. It pains me, she hates going to school just because it’s all WORK WORK WORK. She does not have fun and she’s not even out of Kindergarten yet.

My kids have been going to a “Cambridge” School for the past year and thankfully my son is ok with it. He likes to learn so accepts the heavy backpack and uncomfortable uniform. I am surprised that he always gets a C in Art and I don’t care that he is in “position 21” of 22 kids in the class. I couldn’t care less.

When there are parent teacher meetings previous to exams, some parents write down notes as to what needs to be studied. I sometimes don’t even go to the meeting and most of the time my son misses one day of testing cause we travel so much. I’m not sure what the teachers think of us.

My daughter’s teacher calls my home complaining that she is “missing so much work”, I have no heart to tell her that I don’t care.

So why do my kids go to school? Why don’t I just homeschool them if I think the school is just suffering?

Because I need those free hours to be with myself, even if I mostly end up doing errands for the house in the end. I need to have those hours to be able to work in silence ( I have to go to the coffee shop or the maid will talk to me while I’m trying to work on the computer). I’m a bit glad when the maid doesn’t come for one reason or another, it means I can come back from school drop off, help my husband get off to the office and I can get back in my pijamas until noon. And yes, of course I feel guilty!

We have decided to stay one more year in Sri Lanka, I hope my daughter doesn’t suffer too much with the “no crafts, no playing” schooling style of this school. I always tell her, you won’t have to go to this school forever, just for a little more. In the next country I will find you a more artistic school, I promise.

For the past few weeks people have been telling me to go to the supermarket on Monday because the rest of the week I won’t be able to get any provisions, cause everything will be closed. They must be exaggerating right? Who knows. We managed to organize an out of the country trip to where it’s also Buddhist New Year but mixed with Carnaval. We are going to Thailand for Songkran, where the kids will probably learn more about life and stuff than in those hot uncomfortable classrooms where they work work work.

In the end, all they really want to do is travel. School is just to give them some kind of routine. I hope the next year will be ok for them.

Orana Velarde

Orana is a Writer, Artist, Mother and Wife; Peruvian Expat currently living in Sri Lanka with her husband and children. She writes on her blog Crazy Little Family Adventure about Worldschooling her kids and the trials and tribulations of being an Expat Mom.

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SRI LANKA: Magic or Pragmatism, what’s best for kids?

SRI LANKA: Magic or Pragmatism, what’s best for kids?

I’m a bit of a contradiction when it comes to instilling magic in my kids. I tend to be pragmatic and philosophical about things like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and I think this confuses my kids a bit. My husband and I had a conversation the other day about how I am not letting them live the magic of childhood by being too over explanatory about things like that. When he asked why I wasn’t just letting them believe in the magic of Santa and Tooth Fairies while at the same time having a Fairy Altar in our living room.

I have always felt like a walking contradiction and my son’s wobbly tooth brought some of it out to the light.

When I was little I was made to believe in all things magical like the Tooth Fairy (El Raton Perez actually), Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny. For reasons and paths that life took us on, all these magical creatures became sources of frustration for me. My magical childhood turned into a tween life of hardly any magic at all. The realization of the nonexistence of Santa was sudden and felt like the ripping of a bandaid stuck to a scab (if you know what I mean…then you know the pain). Tooth fairies turned into orthodontists and braces, and the Easter Bunny turned into chocolate for the last time.

When my husband asked why I wasn’t fueling the magic, I answered that it was all a big disappointment in the end. He asked why I was projecting that onto the kids, when they could make their own realizations about all of it. He was right of course, but it took me an entire day to get past the feeling of “why are you attacking me again”. There are lots of kids that grow up just fine and the transition from believing in those things is a normal and peaceful one, there  is no point in me forging a sense of disappointment before it’s even time for the transition to happen.

The other night I made a very frilly card from the Tooth Fairy for my son to find by his bed the next morning. He had hundreds of questions, I think he was trying to find out if I really was the Tooth Fairy or not. I played along to the point where he and his sister were convinced that it really was the Tooth Fairy that had come to the house to collect his tooth. What is the line between lying and storytelling? I don’t know I cannot tell you that.

I won’t tell him my philosophical story about Santa and just let them believe that the present in the red wrapping paper really is from the bearded man from the North Pole that came in his sleigh pulled by reindeer. I won’t tell him how the nordics and the pagans were mixed with the Christians to later be a story concocted by the Coca Cola Company to make more Christmas sales.

There isn’t much of a reason as to why I believe in magic but then try and erase it for my children. Why do I take the pragmatic approach? I think it all has to do with disappointment and my own childhood feelings and how magic can just disappear at the blink of an eye.

Why do I believe in all the gods and deities in the universe and teach my children as much but then cut the cord at creatures such as the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny? Why do I separate ones from the others? Aren’t they just as real? My spiritual brain is very pragmatic, I studied theology and comparative religions and this has made me at the same time very believing but also very technical.

No point getting technical with the Tooth Fairy!

For my children I promise to keep my eyes open and let them believe in all the magic creatures they can think of without me telling them about how Coca Cola invented the red and white Santa and I won’t try and explain how the tooth fairy got her wings or why the Easter Bunny is made of chocolate.

Here’s to more magic in our kiddos’ early lives.

How about you? What kind of magic do you instill on your own kids?

 

 

Orana Velarde

Orana is a Writer, Artist, Mother and Wife; Peruvian Expat currently living in Sri Lanka with her husband and children. She writes on her blog Crazy Little Family Adventure about Worldschooling her kids and the trials and tribulations of being an Expat Mom.

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SRI LANKA: On being a World Mom

SRI LANKA: On being a World Mom

I am an expat nomad mom, my family and I move from country to country quite often and our kids are growing up as Global Citizens. I, like all the moms in the World Moms Network, consider myself a World Mom.

I have a home country, where I was born but I don’t live there. Even if I lived there I would still feel like I wasn’t “just” from there. As the daughter of an immigrant in the United States, I learned first hand how to survive in a land that’s not your own. I learned to make whatever country I am on into a home.

My kids speak Asian Spanglish, I bet you never heard that before. I believe that they are lucky to have a World Mom to look up to, even if I fall into expat depression once in a while. I think sometimes of “going back” for family and other normal things but then I think of all the opportunities they receive by traveling the world with us. I cannot decide what is better. Traveling the world always wins.

As an editor for the Asia Pacific chapter I have come to know other World Moms quite well and I am taken aback at how profoundly real we all are. I have learned that beneath all the daily strife and events that make us who we are, our children are our greatest teachers. That when you laugh with them instead of fight, the air becomes sparkly and things are good.

Our children will grow knowing that we gave them the world, as much of it as we possibly could. World Moms live as expats, in their hometown, or they travel around. They live as single parents, as grandparents, as matriarchs, but all in all they simply live. World Moms see their life experience as an extension of the whole of humanity; our children being the catalysts for a greater good. We strive for World Peace and equality by being a family and sticking together.

We are not confined to our neighborhoods, our families, our cities. Our souls as mothers expand the globe, we are connected even when oceans apart.

Being a World Mom opens your eyes to infinite possibilities of living. We are not alone. 

I have always had a curiosity about all religions. Being brought up in a catholic / christian environment made the contact with other religions quite limited. Having traveled for five years around Southeast Asia has shown me so much of how other moms believe. I have learned to see how other moms have faith.

The lessons I have learned are just a little stripe on the tiger of life, there are so many stories to hear, so many stories to tell. Every mom has a path to take and I believe we are all in it together.

I hope to keep learning indefinitely as a World Mom, there is so much more to live and my kids have so much more to learn alongside me. Being a World Mom is a rollercoaster ride that spans the globe. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

Orana Velarde

Orana is a Writer, Artist, Mother and Wife; Peruvian Expat currently living in Sri Lanka with her husband and children. She writes on her blog Crazy Little Family Adventure about Worldschooling her kids and the trials and tribulations of being an Expat Mom.

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SRI LANKA: When history repeats itself

SRI LANKA: When history repeats itself

I haven’t hugged my oldest daughter in almost three years. It will be three full years in October. I will never forget the last hug we had at the immigrations desk in the Phuket airport when the officials were checking her travel documents.

She was happy to be going back to see my sisters and her friends and I knew it was the best plan of action for her. Now all that has worn off and I just miss her terribly.

There are situations in my life that make it hard for me to go and visit so I just wait and wait for the day that it will magically happen.

The little ones see their sister on skype once in a while but it gets harder for me every time. The smallest one asks when we can go ride horses with my sisters; one of them is a junior jockey and the other wants to be a veterinarian. My son wants to visit the city where his big sister lived as a baby in the mountains of Peru.

I sent my daughter off on a plane to Peru on her own when she was almost 15.

The author's daughter when she was 10 years old.

The author’s daughter when she was 10 years old.

My mom sent me off on a plane to Peru on my own when I was 17 and I since then (21 years) I have seen her for two weeks every year at most. I though that this experience would make me tougher for the situation with my daughter but I was wrong; what it has done is make me feel what my mother felt. This feeling is a complete emotional disaster.

I used to write hate letters to my mom for sending me away. My mom did it in the hopes of giving me a more stable life, my daughter asked to go back because she missed her old life. She is stronger than me, definitely smarter than me and I respect that so much.

She wants to be a musician and an orchestra conductor. I couldn’t be more in awe of that. She plays the piano piece she is practicing with for her music college exam over skype sometimes. She does so well. She is excited about going to the conservatory and studies hard to get good grades. She is lucky to not have as many hang ups as me.

Every few months I get messages from people saying how they ran into her and what a wonderful and beautiful young woman she is. My mom used to get messages about how irresponsible and crazy I was, with an unhealthy dose of drug use that was obvious in my demeanor. I even get messages that say, she isn’t crazy like you were.

Thankfully even when history repeats itself it isn’t all exactly the same. I am happy about that. I am happy she feels comfortable in the place where she is at; I never did and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

This is an original article by World Mom Orana Velarde in Sri Lanka

Orana Velarde

Orana is a Writer, Artist, Mother and Wife; Peruvian Expat currently living in Sri Lanka with her husband and children. She writes on her blog Crazy Little Family Adventure about Worldschooling her kids and the trials and tribulations of being an Expat Mom.

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