You might be thinking, "Why would you send your child to boarding school? Why would you make that change?"
When we learned our first language overseas, we only had a toddler. I was able to leave him with a sitter to go to class, and then I took him along with me on visits and outings. So no schooling was involved for him.
When we learned our second language, we had a first grader and preschooler. While first grade was a crucial year, it did not take up all that much time to homeschool, still allowing for lots of study and practice times.
Now we have a ninth, seventh, and second grader. These are all very crucial grades. They each require time to be done well. It does not leave much time for French lessons, much less study and practice time. With also looking at learning another language in a year or so, it would be best to make the shift from homeschool to other options now rather than delaying the inevitable.
"Aren't there good public schools to which you can send your children?"
Actually, there are a few public schools funded by the government. The government does not invest a lot of money in the system here. All schools are therefore basically private in that you pay for them.
"Aren't there good schools in your city?"
Yes, there are actually some really good schools.
There are French and Belgium schools, but making the switch to all school subjects in another language can be very difficult in the upper grades.
There are other small schools that have lots of benefits, but they may or may not have all the future grades. If he cannot continue at the school throughout high school, the credits he takes there may or may not be accepted when he transfers. Why make it easier now just to make it harder later?
There is an American School here, which offers all grades and is all in English, however it is cost prohibitive.
"What? Cost prohibitive? Isn't boarding school expensive?"
Actually it is cheaper to send William to this boarding school and pay for flights back and forth each trimester than for him to attend the American school in our city.
For that matter, the boarding school actually costs less than the small, English school, which only goes up to ninth grade right now, that we are looking at for the girls.
"How can you let your child go away? Don't you love him? Won't you miss him?"
Absolutely! I will miss him and I love him dearly! This is the reason for so many years in our village, I insisted that I would home school our children all the way through. Even when I saw a lack of Christian friends for him there, I believed we could be enough to encourage his growth. At that time, I could not imagine sending him a twelve hour, and later only a ten hour, drive away in the same country.
Now we are sending him across the continent to a different country!
"So what changed?"
About five years ago, as I thought about friends sending their children away to college, I thought how hard it would be to send them back across the ocean. I thought about how few years we still would have him. I thought about our friends sending their children to boarding school. I could never do that. I have so much to teach him. I could never teach him all that I wanted to before he went to boarding school. Then I looked in The Word.
Moses' mother had him for three months before she had to place him in the river, but then she got to have him until he was weaned, maybe two or three years. Then Samuel, for whom his mother pleaded for years, was also dedicated to the service of the Lord and left at the temple when he was weaned. Jesus was "lost" by his parents at the age of twelve but was found sitting with the teachers in the temple and he himself was teaching. Now I am not calling my son the deliverer, a prophet, and definitely not the Savior, but there was comfort in finding that other mothers had to trust that their children were ready and instilled with enough knowledge, virtue, etc., to let them go early.
Then three years ago, I began my battle with cancer. The day before William's eleventh birthday, I had my first chemo treatment. Amidst the battle, there were times I wondered what would happen if I did not survive and had to leave my family. Had I taught them everything they needed to know? When it came to the things most important, I could say, "yes." While there are a lot of gaps in my children's upbringing, loving God and loving others are not on the list of gaps.
"So why boarding school? Why now?"
Our kids love watching "Once Upon a Time." A recurring phrase regarding the children is to "give them their best chance." At this point in time, this is what we need to do to give William his best chance.
Pray for us all as we transition, including his sisters who love him so much.
(P.S. Mariama will miss William, but is looking forward to taking over his room and having her own room for the first time in her life!)