Why I Hate Back to School Time

I hate back to school time. It’s touted as many parents favorite time of year. So why do I dislike it?

My Least Favorite Time of Year: Back to School Time

As a new expat, longtime unschooler, and parent, I hate back to school time even more than before. I feel a lot of pressure to send my kids to school here in Mexico. At home, being asked about socialization was laughable and it’s why there are so many memes making fun of the question. It’s especially funny when we think back upon our school time and realize that socializing wasn’t actually encouraged. It was actively discouraged. In Mexico, school is so pervasive that it seems impossible to meet other children and parents, especially when you add in a language barrier.

This is one the memes floating around.

Summertime and the livin’ is easy

The summer here has been better for us, but the summer break here is short. Children receive about 5 weeks off of school for summer break. During the break, there is an increase in children at the park and for longer periods of time. We have slowly started playing with others, but it is easier if my trilingual expat friend was with us. Or one of the expat kids. Another serendipitous event was that a bilingual middle school aged girl moved into our neighborhood, and started talking to us. And to everyone, as far as I can tell. Once summer ends, this may taper off because ALL grades receive homework. Yes, even preschool age.

The kids in our neighborhood play together with multiple ages. It’s really interesting to see the older kids playing with much younger children (for example: the middle-schooler including my four and five year old children and this is common to see in our neighborhood).

I still think Mexico is awesome

There are wonderful things about Mexico, like the way the kids interact with each other. Of course, school is the topic everyone, and I mean everyone, asks about. Even the guy from the US Consulate asked us about school.

Being an outsider, I don’t want to make a choice that ends up alienating my children. As a parent, I don’t want to make a choice that is in direct opposition to my principles. I can only think of two pro-school arguments and countless cons. Even so, I’m leaning in the direction of sending my children to kindergarten here. At least, for a short time.

Making a really difficult decision

It really does rankle my unschooling sensibilities and I’m struggling with making peace with this decision. School starts in a matter of days and the first school I applied for is a poor fit. We will not be attending. I’m planning on visiting others and see what options we have. It feels weird and even fraudulent to be going through these motions. Yet, I am. I am monumentally out of my comfort zone with this situation.

Rainbow letters written with water in a Melissa and Doug reusable paint with water book

I’m out of my comfort zone with a lot of things. We moved to another country to experience life differently and have our perspectives grow. This decision to come here was a conscious one. While my husband has moved abroad before, everything about this is brand new to me and our children. Among the expats I see regularly, we all seem to know everything about each other. I’ve never been a part to this type of situation for the long term.

So here I am, an expat in Mexico and an unschooler who is probably going to send her children to school. I feel compelled to make this decision. While it doesn’t have to be forever, I hope I don’t regret it.

If you homeschool/unschool, would you send your children to school if you lived outside of your home country? If you don’t homeschool, would you ever homeschool if a circumstance dictated it?


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6 thoughts on “Why I Hate Back to School Time

  1. Julie says:

    I’m so sorry you haven’t found a supportive group of unschoolers in Mexico. It’s really hard to struggle with the decision of what to do regarding school, and even more so when there is no support for the alternatives to school. The thing that helped me most was knowing that any decision didn’t have to be permanent.

    • Natalie says:

      Thank you, Julie. That thought is helping me out. I know the decision isn’t and won’t be permanent. I’m also trying to give myself some grace because we are still adjusting (more on that in future posts!)

  2. RSchiera says:

    For some reason, a link for your post popped up in my FB feed. We lived overseas for seven years and sent our kids to school locally and also lived another four years in a different country and homeschooled there. Both arrangements had their pros and cons, and my children, all of whom are now in US public schools and thriving, have both positive and negative memories from each experience. All I can say is this: as a long-time expat mom, it is easy and common to beat yourself up over every decision you make when it comes to raising children overseas, and when it comes to education, you likely will always second guess what you are doing. Such thinking seems to come with the territory and really is a good thing since it shows that you are experiencing life and examining all around you as well as your own shifting beliefs. So what to do? Do what is right at the moment and in your host country when it comes to schooling in spite of the values that you developed back home. Sometimes those values don’t transfer well to life in a different country. Good luck!

    • Natalie says:

      Thank you so much for your comment! I agree that one cannot possibly plan for every factor when moving to another country. There may be unexpected things that come up, as they have for me. Things were so easy from my comfy couch in Ohio, even anticipating how the big changes would affect as a family have played out differently in reality. I fully intend to keep working towards finding our place here.

  3. Tanya says:

    There ARE other unschoolers in Mexico! There are facebook groups of them. Maybe try to find them and ask how they handle this situation? I can’t remember a specific group name, maybe a facebook search would be helpful, but I know there is a world schooling group as well on facebook which includes those in Mexico. Hth?

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