A School Miracle? Homeschooling in New Zealand

What if, as a kid, you didn’t have to go to elementary school? What would you gain? What would you miss? What if it was in another country?

As many of you know, immigration told us to get a “visitor” visa for Jeremy, but once we did, the local schools were no longer compelled to take him. Each we contacted said they had no room. We contacted the neighborhood school, a “state school,” and a private school- all the same answer. What were we going to do? This uncertainty was my primary source of stress. Finally, so that we wouldn’t be in trouble with the Colorado School Board, I applied for a homeschooling permit the day before we left the country. Had we not done this, we could have literally come home to an arrest warrant for truancy court!

But homeschooling as the actual answer worried me; what about meeting other kids? Would my sabbatical turn into an educate-Jeremy-project and make it impossible to actually get any work done? Would the family dynamic turn into us nagging him to do his school work all of the time? Everyone had (and has) opinions about this, pulling me in opposite directions.
In the past, when I’ve been in distress over not knowing what to do, I’ve found relief by “turning it over.” I imagine at this point completely losing the attention, and perhaps the respect of, my secular, non-12-step friends and colleagues. I used to think prayer and woo-woo “crap” were for the small-minded and ignorant (and that’s when I was feeling generous)… but then I witnessed what it did for people in recovery programs and decided to give it a try. The way it works for me is like this: I am willing to consider the possibility that there are forces far beyond me that are loving, gentle and have my back. I don’t need to put a name on it, I just have to be willing to let go of the notion that it is all up to me, and just relax already. So, feeling helpless, I tried it this time. And then this happens.

The first day here, Fran sees a sign for Montessori teaching materials on a building and insists we stop in. Jeremy’s school uses this pedagogy, but I already knew that there weren’t any Montessori elementary schools (only preschools) in Dunedin. However, from the lady in the building we find out that there used to be, that she can lend us anything we need, and that there is a retired teacher in town who is available for tutoring. I message that teacher who immediately video calls me and we set up a time next week to get together.
So we are trying this. Maybe it will work and maybe it won’t – I’m not saying this was “sent from G-d” and thus must be the right thing. I just know that it is certainly convenient and that my worrying didn’t bring it about. My mom has offered to FaceTime with him daily to work on a school project (Maori culture? tall ships? stay tuned!). We will enroll him in martial arts classes and swim classes and maybe a youth orchestra to meet other kids. And we’ll have more flexibility to travel and see everything we came here to see, starting with a big hike tomorrow, the warmest day forecast for the week.

This post was first published in www.oursimonfamily.blogspot.com

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