I have some big news to share with all of you. We decided to stay here for another year! Esteban talked to his boss about it and it is official – we will be staying through the summer of 2013. We are once again renting out our house.
We are excited and happy with this decision. We are really enjoying life here, especially now that Jade is making friends and is happy at school. We have also come to realize that it takes about nine months to a year for kids to really feel settled in a new country. To leave as soon as we feel settled would be a shame. I am really looking forward to just enjoying life here, without the constant stress of adjustment, to deepening our friendships, and to getting to know Colombian culture on a more profound level.
Our only concern, to be frank, is whether the girls’ school can sufficiently meet their needs for a two year stint. One year was about learning Spanish but as we now plan to stay here for two years, we are worried about them keeping up with their English, and being challenged enough academically to reintegrate into their school in the States in a couple of years.
We really miss the quality of teaching and the community at the Waldorf school in Lexington, MA. The school here is more of a Waldorf initiative, with super dedicated teachers who are fairly well trained in Anthroposophy (the philosophy that Waldorf education is based on), but resources are very limited and the teachers are very young. None of them are parents. Also, it seems to attract students who “couldn’t make it” in traditional (academically challenging) Colombian schools as opposed to kids whose parents really seek out Waldorf education for its own merits. Jade doesn’t seem to have peers at her level of development and the teacher is constantly telling me that she is amazed by how bright Jade is. I don’t think she is able to really meet Jade’s needs because she has 18 other kids in the classroom, some with behavior problems.
I guess we just have to take it one day at a time and supplement at home. Jade basically skipped third grade here and just started fourth grade. She is still challenged by the Spanish language for now and I have started working with her at home to keep up with her English. She reads a lot in English, then writes summaries of what she reads and we work on spelling, grammar and composition. I will have to look into supplementing the math and science and also trust that the experience of traveling, seeing how other people live and making friends in a foreign culture makes up for whatever she misses academically.
It’s easier with Siena because she is just starting first grade, six months earlier than she would have in Boston. I figure that as long as I help her learn to read in English before we leave here, she will be in good shape.
All in all, I guess we are lucky to have found a school with any Waldorf ties. We are in a small town in Colombia, after all.