Education And Your Missionary Kids

Every parent worries about providing their child with a quality education. Every Christian parent frets concerning giving their child a biblical foundation. Every missionary agonizes over turning their child into a social outsider. By extension, a Christian, missionary, parent is burdened with the reality that by following Jesus call into missions they may have just sacrificed their children in order to be obedient to God.

The education of our children, before and during missions, causes great anxiety for many missionaries. Lots of God’s global servants wrestle with the reality that by obeying God’s call to live in another culture they may have just ruined their child’s education opportunities. And, this concern isn’t lessoned by the fact that many secular and Christian friends are reinforcing their doubt. Missionaries need to remember; our God promises he will care for your kids better than you can. Never forget, the future of your children is far more important to Jesus than it is to you.

Still, parents must prayerfully contemplate what academic options they have for their children. In modern missions, there are lots of education choices for missionary kids.

Homeschool
Schooling your children from home, while serving on the mission field, is a great way of providing quality, individualized education for your kids. Now, more than ever, the internet and technology make homeschooling a quality option. E-books, video conferencing, and electronic databases ensure a child can receive amazing resources anywhere a descent internet connection is available.

Living in a foreign country can optimize social studies and language acquisition for missionary kids. It is a huge opportunity to take advantage of that rare opportunity to expose your child to foreign art, historical sites, food, culture, and governments. The hands-on possibilities open to your child cannot be duplicated and will enrich their lives.

International School
Boarding schools are becoming less prevalent, but international schools are expanding in popularity. International schools draw third culture kids from parents who are military, diplomats, business executives, and missionaries. These schools frequently have kids from many cultures attending. The exposure to varying cultures is an experience which is hard to replicate.

Often, international schools can be expensive and are frequently attended by kids of upper-class families. While the cost can be prohibitive for missionaries, the quality of education and rare cultural diversity are often undeniable. Typically, these schools only exist in metropolitan cities and can be hard to find in developing parts of the world.

National School
The downside to this option hinges on the quality of the school and the education standards of the country in which a missionary serves. To assume all non-U.S. education is substandard would be an error. However, due diligence must be given to determine the quality of education at any school which a parent is unfamiliar. Educational quality and curriculum varies, not just from country to country, but school to school.

However, the benefit which can be gained by a missionary kid attending a national school is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. By immersing your child into a national school, your child will gain language and cultural acquisition like few other children on the planet. Your child could leave their experience fully comprehending two cultures and two languages. This would give them exposure to life few of their peers could ever comprehend. Kid missionaries, when attending national schools, also have a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with their peers.

Preparing For College
The college application process can be confusing when being done from another culture. But, with the help of the internet, it can all be completed from anywhere in the world. College applications, scholarships (private and institutional), and the Free Application for Free Student Aide (FAFSA) applications are all daunting, but can be done 100% online. The ACT/SAT tests are the only part of the process which must be done in person, but these standardized tests are frequently offered in foreign countries.

Interestingly, being educated in a foreign culture is seen as a benefit to many college admissions offices. Many colleges, especially Christian colleges, appreciate the diversity a third culture kid brings to their campus. Some colleges do require foreign transcripts to be verified (at your cost) by an independent vendor, but even that is rare. Some colleges, again, especially Christian colleges, offer scholarships to missionary kids because their worldly experiences add to the overall learning environment.

Going away to college is no longer obligatory. In this modern age, missionary kids can attend college classes from a laptop. Many brick and mortar colleges offer full undergraduate and post-graduate degrees 100% online. College-aged third culture kids can complete some or all of their college education from anywhere in the world.

Answering God’s call to missions, is not nearly the burden or sacrifice it once was for missionary kids. In fact, being educated on the mission field can provide lifelong benefits your kids couldn’t acquire living in the U.S. Educating your missionary kids while serving in a foreign land can be a great kingdom and personal benefit to your children. If God has called your family to missions, know he will provide your kids with everything they need to serve him in the future…including a quality education.