If you are an expat family with children, homeschooling in Mexico may be a viable education option.
Homeschooling has been used throughout the world for centuries. In the United States, Baltimore, Maryland-based Calvert School pioneered a comprehensive private program in the early 1900s as a solution for American children quarantined at home during a series of epidemics.
In the years following, homeschooling proved useful for missionary and traveling families. Since that time homeschooling has become an accepted education option for expats living in Mexico and most other countries.
To provide you with a clear understanding of the homeschooling option in Mexico, we spoke with representatives of Calvert Education and Global Village School, an Ojai, California-based school that has been in business since 1999.
“Homeschooling, broadly speaking, is the practice of educating kids outside of the public school structure,” Global Village School spokesperson Tanya MacGumerait said. “Public schools as we know them today are a very recent development, dating back to the 1840s in America and Canada. Public schools did not outnumber private options until around the start of the 20th century. So, for much of human history, we educated ourselves in ways that were outside of a formal legal structure. Much of the early backlash against public schooling came from families who wanted to provide an explicitly religious context to the education of their children. Today, there are many different motivations for homeschooling.”
Increasingly, families who travel constantly or live abroad are turning to homeschooling as a good, inexpensive education option.
“Calvert Education serves many expats in Mexico and elsewhere who live in remote areas with no schools, are dissatisfied with local schools, are concerned about their child’s ability to learn the local language easily or adapt to the local education system or have a child with special needs,” said Martha Cole, the Calvert Education spokesperson.
So, how does homeschooling work? Calvert Education, which offers K-12 instruction, ships an “education in a box” to its customers for the full school year. It includes lesson manuals, textbooks, workbooks, activity pages, test booklets, science kits and other material. Calvert also provides online resources such as video tutorials, quizzes, grade books, e-text books and online planning tools.
Given the ubiquity of the Internet, you might think that an “education in a box” approach is a bit old fashioned, but Calvert’s Cole said the Internet has not penetrated some locations of the world and not everyone has a computer, although both issues are rapidly disappearing.
Every Calvert enrollment also includes free, unlimited support from a team of certified Education Counselors. Calvert’s optional Advisory Teaching Service (ATS) ensures that families receive guidance and feedback from experts, along with transcripts from an accredited program. Calvert’s diploma option allows eligible high school students from around the world to receive a certified U.S. High School Diploma from the State of Maryland.
At Global Village School, which provides K-12 education, parents are also “at home” teachers, but GVS teachers advise them and review all work.
“We’re more of a private school, a homeschool hybrid,” Global Village School’s MacGumerait said. “Families are free to work with teachers to build a structure that works for them within some broad guidelines. Also, many of our students are activist-types and they learn by doing. They build things, visit museums, volunteer with local organizations and intern at a wildlife sanctuary. We like to say the world is our classroom and our kids take full advantage of that.”
Homeschooling curricula differ quite a bit from more traditional local or international schools. Calvert Education writes its own curriculum, which is more rigorous than public schools. The material is often more advanced than grade level material and teaching in pubic schools. An emphasis is placed on writing, critical thinking, literature and problem solving.
The Global Village School’s curriculum breaks away from the more data-driven model employed by most schools and uses assessment methods that are both broader and more comprehensive and much more like what a private school might offer. For example, a GVS student might create and film a play based on Shakespearean principles of play writing. Flexibility for students is key to their curriculum approach.
In addition to Calvert Education and Global Village School, there are many homeschooling options to choose from. But no matter which homeschooling approach you take, the result should be certification recognized by education institutions of higher learning.
“Many colleges are actively recruiting homeschooled students because they tend to be more creative and independent than their public and international school counterparts,” MacGumerait said.
Homeschooling strengths appear to far outweigh weaknesses. Flexibility and customization are two very key strengths. You will have the flexibility to tailor your child’s education to his/her personal needs. Students can proceed at their own pace. Families can be directly involved in their child’s education and receive personalized attention. Homeschooling also is portable. If you move frequently, your classroom moves with you. And, expat homeschooled kids receive enrichment from the experiences they receive in Mexico.
On the negative side, homeschooling often is perceived as the education route for religious zealots or those who want to protect their child from the world. Although some homeschoolers have these motivations, reasons why families use homeschooling are now wide and varied.
Homeschooling is certainly not for everyone. Some parents may not have the education, skills or motivation to teach their child. And sometimes parents and kids just do not have the necessary relationship to make it work. These are personal matters for every family to assess.
We asked both Cole and MacGumerait what advice they would give expats in Mexico about homeschooling. Both agreed that planning ahead is the best advice for anyone. Do your homework and explore your options thoroughly. Determine what program would be best suited for your child and then find the best homeschooling provider fit. Realize that homeschooling requires a commitment from parents to be engaged. Many parents find that they gain as much from the experience as their child or children.
There are no laws prohibiting homeschooling in Mexico, if you choose to do so. You can find out more specific homeschooling details at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website.
For a more detailed look at all of your education options in Mexico, click on our Mexico and Cities sections in the homepage navigation bar and look for the Education sub-section.