Unchartered Territory…

Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Blog, Uncategorized | 5 comments

I have so many blog posts swirling around in my head that I may start to get dizzy.  I’m always inspired to write when I’m here but don’t always get the time to do so.  I’ve got some fun things to share, some stories to share, some people to introduce you to, and unfortunately  some sad things to share about life and so many of the injustices around us.

This time though I’m going to share with you about the unchartered territory we’re entering when it comes to our kids and their educational needs.

When we arrived back in Madagascar, the kids school had already been in session for a week.  Isabella had 1 full day of rest and play back in our home before she was itching to go to school.  1st grade to be exact… which is CP at the French school but to be honest, I have zero idea what CP stands for.  Eliana wasn’t quite as eager and was uber content to stay at home before trekking up the small hill to school a few days later.  Eliana is in preschool or MM which is something in between the youngest and the oldest classes in the preschool, but again, I can’t tell you exactly what MM stands for.  Yeah, I really don’t know any French.  It’s pathetic.

So here’s our girls on their respective first days of school for the 2012-2013 school year.

As you can see, Isabella is excited… Eliana is a little reluctant.  To be honest, I can’t blame her.

So we’re a little less than a month into the French School.  All French, all the time.  The girls are doing well.  They’re surviving and learning and growing and they’re oh so tired by the end of the day!  Eliana is still young enough with enough time until she starts 1st grade that she’ll really do fine on an educational level.  Not to diminish the hardships of not being able to communicate clearly of course.  Isabella on the other hand really has her work cut out for her.  She’s got serious work… like reading and writing and comprehending in French.  And then there’s the math… fortunately math tends to be math… though she will learn all about the Euro rather than the Dollar.

Thankfully their teachers and the school have been gracious.  We’re learning along the way too.  Jamie can speak French and so he is their designated parent when it comes to their French education.  I can’t even read the notes that are sent home about upcoming events, etc.  It’s definitely not the way I envisioned being active in my kids education.  Unfortunately, there have been a number of things that just haven’t even crossed our minds…. for example, we didn’t tell the girls how to say, “I need to go potty”.  As you can imagine, we learned the hard way.  Absolutely heartbreaking and a total, “I suck as a parent” type of moment.

Next week, I dive into English school with them in addition to their French school.  After all, we really want our kiddos to be able to read and write in English as well.  We start on Monday, Columbus Day (no American school holidays here).  Believe me, I’m no teacher, especially not to little ones.  I’m way too task-oriented which I’ve heard doesn’t fly really well with homeschooling.  It’s gonna be interesting.

I share all this to ask you to pray.  Pray for our kids!  We’re going to be asking a lot of them, educationally, in the years to come.  When they’re in Madagascar and attend the French School we will have to supplement their English and when we’re in America and they attend an American School, we’ll have to supplement their French education until we return to Madagascar.  And then in the mix of it all to learn Malagasy as they’re playing with their friends.  To be honest, it doesn’t seem very fair to ask little kids to have to work this hard….thankfully they have amazing minds at this age!  Pray for us!  We as parents have a lot of navigating to do through unchartered territory and it’s a bit daunting.  Pray for a teacher!  Ultimately we’re looking for a credentialed American teacher to come join us in Madagascar in order to set up a one-school house to teach our kids an approved home-schooling curriculum.  If you know of someone who fits this description… pass our info along!

Au Revoir!


  1. I’m a bit behind on reading your posts, although I thought I had read this one but obvioulsy didn’t. Wow, you all must be exhausted! Just having different languages spoken around me is exhausting, not to mention trying to learn in them! Let me know if you want any input into homeschool curriculum. Now that I’ve been at it for a while (9 weeks into 1st grade) I feel more confident offering some opinions. You don’t know how much I’d love to come teach your kids (along with mine and the Cassurellas!), but that wouldn’t likely be a one-room school house – it would be a zoo – but a fun one for sure!! I will continue praying for God’s provision in that area as I know it is what your heart desires. We pray for you often!!!

    • Rachel,
      A zoo is a very GOOD thing! 🙂 I’ll be in touch about ideas! Thanks

  2. http://www.rosettastone.com/homeschool-english

    Dear Alissa, we will pray for you all. It’s good to remember that children are predisposed to learning languages so it is easier for them than it is for adults. It’s also very good for their mental development. I have pasted a link above this comment in case you would like to check out Rosetta Stone. They have packages for at-home instruction. They also have a great French program in case you would like to learn French (but we know you have a lot on your plate already).

    Ruth Beechick is one of my favorite authors when it comes to home education and I hope you may find something of use at this site: http://homehearts.com/teaching-toolbox/beechick-basics/

    At first, it’s great to cuddle on the couch together and read aloud from favorite books. When you wish to add more structure, that’s when the above resources come into play. One of our children at age 6 needed daily reinforcement of phonics ‘phonogram’ flash cards because things didn’t ‘click’ for her until she was a bit older. Another child learned to read at age 4. Each child has a distinct learning modality (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic) which, when you tap into it, will make learning-and teaching-easier. May the Lord lead you in assessing each of your kids.

    Since your children will be instructed in reading and writing French, the basic work will be done for you. You will want to add onto this with the English layer (and English or American pronunciation of each letter/letter combo). You may opt to use a packaged program such as Rosetta Stone or a basic phonics program, leading to a literature and composition course for upper elementary grades. I don’t want to overwhelm you with options, so I won’t list them all here right now. 🙂

    We pray for God’s providence in every thing for you and your dear family!


  3. Alissa,
    Show the kids you love learning. Read good books to them and enjoy some snuggle time in the process. The rest will come. Homeschooling does not mean a structured class room at home. You will do great. I’ll ask Brita to drop a note as well. She taught our three children who all did well academically.
    Lars (First Baptist Church of Monterey)

  4. Wow! Your hands are FULL!
    CP is for “Cours préparatoire” (Primary School level)
    MM, I’m not sure. I would guess that it relates with “Kindergarten” (Maternelle)

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