Monday, July 08, 2013 5:07 AM
Educating Your Children in Mexico: Part 3 - You've Found the Right School. Now What?
Part 1 - Education and Schools in Mexico
Part 2 - Finding the Right School for Your Family
Part 3 - You have chosen a
school and your children are enrolled. Now what? How you best support their
efforts? If your children are very young and you plan on living in Mexico
for a few years or longer, they will have no trouble at all picking up Spanish
and making friends. While you are struggling to conjugate verbs and roll your ‘r's,
your children will be speaking fluently in no time. Your role in this process is to make the transition as
smooth as possible for your children.
espanol? Chances are that you, like your offspring, are just beginning to
learn Spanish. As fun as it may seem, resist the temptation to try out your new
Spanish with them in the home. Unless your Spanish is perfect, they will be
better off listening to and imitating native Spanish speakers at school. Your
best efforts will be spent maintaining the child's mother language in the home.
While it is a priority that your
young students become fluent in the language of their new home country it is
equally important that they are equally proficient in their own native tongue. Through
the school administration and parent groups you can also seek out English
speaking families with whom to connect and reinforce your children's native language
skills outside of the classroom.
Older children will have some
catching up to do and may find it more difficult to acquire new language
skills. Some children are
particularly resistant to speaking Spanish long after they have begun to
understand the language. Be patient and don't push. Make sure the school you
choose has accommodations in place to "regularize" foreign students either in
the classroom setting or after school. If no such groups are available at the
school they will surely be able to recommend a tutor to work with your child to
learn the language and complete homework assignments.
involved at your children's school. Regardless of how much English is spoken at your child's
school, all group meetings and conferences will most likely be held in Spanish.
This can be very intimidating and frustrating for new parents who do not yet
speak the language. Despite this
significant barrier, make the effort to attend all meetings and events planned
at the school. Chances are, you will find fellow Canadian or other expat
families to connect with who can help you understand and navigate your way
through the first few months. They will be able to introduce you to other
parents thus helping you build a social network in your new hometown.
Be sure your school provides you with a
contact list for all the class parents. Remember, your child's homework
assignments will be in Spanish. Until you have a firm grasp of the language you
will need to reach out to other parents for help!
social. Social media that is. Mexico is very savvy when it comes to social
networking and this can be a great tool for you as you start your new life in
Mexico. Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn ... everyone seems to be connecting online
both personally and professionally.
Facebook in particular may be an excellent platform
to connect with people not only here in your new home but also with friends and
family back home. At very least, Facebook can help you identify the parents of
your child's friends and classmates. You are going to be meeting a lot of new
people and you will need all the help you can get to keep them all straight. Many
schools have created groups on Facebook that are used to efficiently
disseminate notices and important grade specific information to families and
tutors. Parent and administrators utilize these groups to keep everyone up to
date on upcoming meetings, evaluations, sporting events and festivals, both in
and out of school. Families can use these groups to get know one another and
strengthen the sense of school community.
If your children are the appropriate age,
they may find Facebook is a great way to solidify new friendships and seek out
help for their homework assignments. Children planning to return to their home
country will be able to keep up with their friends back home, making the
transition back into their old life in Canada or the US much easier.
some consistency. As we have
mentioned, very young children moving to Mexico with their families will have
no trouble adjusting to their new life and a new language. Older children, with
established friends and favorite activities, will need more of your support and
guidance as they rebuild their life in a new place. Every effort should be made
to ensure that they continue to pursue the activities that they enjoyed back
home. If your daughter loves horses, find a nearby stable and sign her up in a
group lesson. If your son plays
the violin, find a teacher as quickly as possible and continue his training. If
your children are into hockey...well, that requires a bit more creativity. Look
into other team sports like soccer or even American football. Many metropolitan
areas have sports facilities with tracks for cyclists and in-line skaters. Keep
an open mind and encourage your children to do so as well. They might not find
exactly what they are hoping for but perhaps they will develop another interest
along the way.
However you choose to educate you children in Mexico, keep
in mind that you can always change your mind. You may decide to homeschool at
first and then transition into a regular school setting. You may discover that
your child cannot flourish in a regular classroom yet excels in an online
education program. After a year or
two in your new location, a new school may open up that you feel surpasses all
the options you had previously considered. You may find that no one school fits
the unique needs of each of your children and end up enrolling them in
different schools! Realistically, there is no one educational model that is
right for all students. We can only hope to find the best fit for each of our
Children are wonderful, resilient creatures and given the
right tools and a loving support system will thrive in almost any situation. In
the end, it shouldn't be the soccer stadium, the library or the computer science
lab that sells you on a school. It should be the sense of school community and
how welcome you feel by the administrators, the teachers and the other
families. If your child is unhappy and feels unwelcome, all the technology and
athletic facilities in the world won't make them a successful student. Chose a
school that feels right to you and
your child, even if it is missing some of the bells and whistles you were
hoping for and you will increase your chances for a smooth transition into your
new home in Mexico.
Michele Kinnon and her husband Rob are the owners of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors and FurnitureMEX, both based in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Michele is a member of Rotary Club of Playa del Carmen Seaside and participated on the founding committee for Taste of Playa, the Riviera Maya's largest and longest running culinary festival. She also blogs, writes local interest articles and administrates the Riviera Maya Events Calendar. Michele and Rob have lived in Playa del Carmen with their two children since 2004. Follow her updates on Google+.