Monday, November 14, 2011

Home-schooling in Poland

As Martin likes to say on a weekly basis, there are 5 BIG things we definitely, absolutely, need to "get figured out" before we go.

1. School
2. Work
3. I can't remember
4. Ditto
5. It's his list, ask him

For real. He does have a list. But he made it up for himself and keeps repeating it at me. I can never remember what's on it.  The only thing on my list (not including everything on the stuff board), is school. And that....I can check off! (Thanks to Martin)

Ok, so, back to business. 

Martin left for 2 weeks to do 2 big things. Look at land (1) and figure out the school thing (2).  It was a crazy 2 weeks, and very productive. He has been home now for about a month and I am finally writing about the most exciting conclusion from that trip....

HOMESCHOOLING IN POLAND IS GOING TO BE AWESOME!

Now, before we talk about home-schooling let's talk about traditional schooling, in Poland. (this is not based on personal experience. It is based on our current, limited, understanding of "how things work." But it's the general gist.)

Your child can attend a private or public school.

Public schools, as in America, are funded by the government.

Private schools, while possibly recieving some subsidies from the government, are primarily funded by the students families, fundraisers, parish etc. 

Theology/Religion of some sort is taught in both private and public schools.

The best schools in the city (IMO) are public schools run by nuns. (PUBLIC schools run by nuns. Schools, funded by the government, run by women married to Christ... I *know*! Our separation of church and state alarms are clanging off the hook right now) Free school, taught by faithful women who's lives are devoted to the students. Sounds great to me! Unfortunately, there are waiting lists 2 years long or more to get into these schools. Apparently I am not the only one that thinks this is an awesome combination. Even public schools in Poland must be applied to, especially if they are some of the most popular.

Private schools are a bit more like in the states. Parents pay, although the cost, in comparison to American private schools, is basically close to 1/5 the price (in American dollars) and the schools are usually a bit smaller. You can pick and choose the type of school that you want to some extent. Still, mostly Christian schools, but some more Catholic specific than others. Some specialize in languages or music. One Martin looked at had the 2nd graders learning two foreign languages. 

If we were going to send our children to a traditional school in Poland, there are many to choose from that I think we could be ok with in terms of size, cost, and quality of education. And, to top it off, until the child is in 4th grade or so, they only go to school for 4 hours a day. They don't mess around in Poland. Kids get to school, work their butts off, and then go home for lunch. I approve of this. This is good.

But, the most exciting conclusion to this whole trip? While it's nice to know that these schools are out there, and that we can take advantage of them, and be ok with it.....we don't have to! And THAT, my friends is the best news I have heard yet, concerning this move.

In fact, to be completely honest, when Martin started telling me everything about the people he met, and the system to begin enrolling to home-school, and the curriculum options...I cried.  Real tears, of joy. And relief. This has been my biggest concern. This is my biggest job, therefore it is my biggest concern. At one point I told Martin that if we wanted to home-school, if *I* could do it and had the will, but we COULDN'T, because of outside pressures... then it was a deal breaker. That we wouldn't be going, or that we would have to find a way to never establish citizenship for the kids, or *something,* to keep them home-schooled.

 It's that important to me. It's *that* important to me.

Martin met other home-schoolers who are interested in setting up a co-op. He met other home-schoolers who told him where to find curriculum, after school programs for extracurricular activities, and how to go about registering at a school so you can work with them on testing. ALL of the things we were clueless about. He met other home-schoolers who are doing it, home-schooling, easily, and happily, and successfully. You know, the way it happens in the U.S.

I don't know how to express how much of  a relief all of this is. No matter how difficult some of the day to day things are going to be, how frustrated I get with the language or cultural oddities, or my confusion about whether or not *this* particular public restroom is free... my home, and my children will be as they should.


As *I* think they should. Not the government, or the next door neighbors, or other family. But, *me,* the mommy... and the teacher.  And that gives me peace. And makes me smile.

Lina, working on a file folder game.














24 comments:

  1. Yay! I'm so happy for you guys. This is such incredible news. Hugs :D

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  2. Thanks Dwija! I am super excited, and already setting up our school room in my head since we'll finally be able to have a whole separate room for our school. Just such a relief!

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  3. Why home school? Only you will be their teacher. You note you are not very good at math, for example. It is not the case that people who "know" more math than you, for example, simply have a greater pile of facts lined up in their brains (and thus you, being older than your children, can teach them what you know), rather is it is an entirely different way of thinking, some of it genetic and some that can be developed. So why limit your children only to your capabilities in thinking and learning? They will get that from you at home anyway, but why not get other contributions from Polish teachers and other students, as you note, just for four hours/day until fourth grade?

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  4. Good questions. Home-schooling is a lifestyle choice that goes far beyond math skills. I hardly see home-schooling as limiting, and in fact see it as the opposite: my kids will learn through hands-on experience, in a "classroom" setting, and yes, sometimes from the "experts." Though I think I can handle 4th grade math. ;)

    I love talking about home-schooling so if you would like to chat, shoot me an email! :)

    (sorry, I misspelled something in the previous comment so just deleted it and re-posted it with correct spelling)

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  5. There are excellent high schools and Jagiellonian University in Krakow. :-) I'm sure that there are great Catholic elementary and gimnazjum schools also somewhere there.

    I have American friends, Christians, who have sent their three daughters through the elementary and high schools. One of the girls is studying now in the US. They are very happy with the results.

    I'm just saying this to complicate your life even more. :-)

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  6. I just flitted to your blog by accident while doing some research about home-schooling in Poland. My situation is very similar. My husband's family is from Krakow and we are considering moving here. I am currently here investigating business opportunities. Feel free to email me if you would like to discuss homeschooling, I have home-schooled in the USA for 4 years now. dormanmom@yahoo.com

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  7. Hello, We just moved to Poznan and are basically sending our kids to such a bad International school ,ISOP, so my kids are starting to refuse going to school. This is our third International school and its not us who is the problem!
    Do you know if there is an set up of parents doing homeschooling in Poznan? I don't know anything about homeschooling but are consider it for this time we still have to stay in Poland. As we are Swedish by nationality I am a little bit afraid about homeschooling in English, but at this point my English is better then both my sons teachers so it cant get any worse.
    Sorry for bursting in on your blog like this,
    Best regards,
    Jeanette

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    1. Jeanette!
      This is exactly why my blog is public, for people just like you! I am so glad you found it. If you will email me at the email connected with my blog I can send you so much more info. and even the names of the correct people to guide you through the process.

      Otherwise, with my limited knowledge, which you should verify with local officials... any non-Polish citizen of certain countries (probably most European and North American) can homeschool their children at any time, no questions asked and no special tests or anything. You just keep them home and choose your own curriculum. My kids are Polish so they have to take the tests. Please email me off the blog, in the email in my profile and we can chat more, if you like. Good Luck!

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  8. I wasn't aware of home-schooling here in Poland, so it was good to find out about the possibility of doing so.

    From what I can gather, schools here in Poland are quite authoritarian, whereby respect for ones' "betters" is endemic. Of course, this problem is not just in Poland. I know many people who have had traumatic experiences in schools at the hands of teachers who were abusing their powers. Indeed, I wonder if the formal schooling method is the best way to help children develop themselves.

    I largely work with people who have just left school, and I see people who are reliant on so-called authority figures and unable to fend for themselves. Only the Waldorfschule in Germany or perhaps Quaker schools in Britain are the exception.

    I was wondering about having my future children taught at home. My wife is strongly against it, as she believes that they should learn how to deal with social relations. That social relations in Poland can involve dodgy things regarding gender roles is however a concern of mine. Not that I believe that formal schooling is 100% bad!

    I wish you all the best in your move in Poland.

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    1. Thank you for your comment! I think one of the biggest fears for parents after they decide that they are capable of actually providing a quality education for their children, is the aspect of "socialization" as they like to call it in America.

      I don't really know where this fear comes from. If you have your children hidden from public until they are legal adults I could see problems arising but that is not the case nor the goal with the majority of home-schoolers. As someone so astutely put it... "I don't need my child to be in a class with 30 other kids being forced to share crayons to teach them that they need to share."

      Home-schoolers must seek out children of their own age to socialize with, this can sometimes be more difficult but not impossible. With homeschooling you have more control over who is influencing your children. They are able to maintain their innocence longer and feel more comfortable in their surroundings than if they have to worry about the older students or bullies threatening them.

      There will be plenty of time when the children are older for them to deal with "difficult personalities" or people that "challenge their beliefs." They don't need to be doing this at the age of 10 when their focus should be their school work and their family.

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    2. I absolutely cannot comment on the state of the schools in Poland at the moment. I have heard some wonderful things and some horrid things. I am sure that they are, for the most part, similar to American schools, and this is not all bad. But there are plenty of negatives that have me wondering, "why bother if I don't have to?" And the private schools have me wondering, "why am I paying 5-10k a year for someone else to do something I can do myself?"

      It's a challenge and not for every parent or family. I do believe that any child can flourish in homeschooling, you just have to be able to be more creative to meet the children where they are.

      If you are ever more curious and your wife would like to see a typical day I am more than happy to answer questions! I hope to be able to post some video and pictures of our days so everyone can see what it is we really do all day.

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    3. That'd be cool.

      I forgot to say, that I *hear* that the private, Roman Catholic schools tend to be Opus Dei type of places, i.e. very conservative.

      Could be wrong, like.

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  9. Hi Olivia,
    My family just moved to Poland and we were surprised to find out that our kids had polish citizenship. My husband is American, I am Polish and the kids were born in New York. We have home schooled then all their lives and were hoping to do so here as well. I was wondering if you will home school in Polish or English because if you know a way to continue to home school in English I would love to know. ~Gosia

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    1. Hi, Gosia
      We are bringing our curriculum with us for english speaking lessons and will also be teaching them polish grammar and writing,etc. So, we chose one- two. Years of curriculum and shipped it over. And then of course there is the Internet for downloading. Lessons etc. Where are. You living in Poland?

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  10. Thanks for your reply! We are in Konin now. Still figuring things out about housing and jobs. I was wondering how you went about legally homeschooling in English since the law says that even if you home school in Poland you must teach the regular curriculum and do it in Polish. We are actually considering dripping the kids' Polish citizenship so that we may to continue to home school in English. They would learn Polish as well but as a second language. Well, really third because they learned Chinese while we lived in Taiwan.

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    1. Gosia, I would be happy to share our contacts with you. We will be following all the Polish laws pertaining to homeschooling. The children must take a yearly test to show that they are staying "on track." A formality. The contacts we have are able to walk you through this and are very open to working with you in any way you need.

      When you think about it, all they need to know that is specifically Polish is the language and grammar, reading. Everything else, America or Poland , like culture and history, and math, science, etc. they can learn in English so long as they know the vocabulary in Polish (in order to pass the tests). It will not be easy but this is what we want so we will make it happen. (hopefully)

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    2. I would love any info or contacts you can share. Please e-mail me at swamprabbithut@yahoo.com. Thank you! ~Gosia

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  11. Hi Olivia!!! :-)

    I just found this site googling homeschooling in Poland. I am completely overwhelmed and in tears, so fearful of a situation like the homeschooler's in Germany have endured.

    I am glad to see your response to Gosia, and wondering how / if this may apply to our family.

    There is a good chance my husband will accept a position in Warsaw. I know Homeschooling is legal...but I know depending on the district/ county (probably not the right terminology) some areas are more restrictive than others.

    Actually I have Polish heritage on my Father's side, not sure if I can pursue that (If my Father was in the US military) or even if I should if a different set of rules would then apply to my children.

    I have 2 special needs children...one I homeschooled all his life (after he was abused in the school system, and who also endures horrific bullying from other non-special needs kids) and went through full PTSD hysteria when I tried to bring him back to school...I have been homeschooling him ever since.

    Our 2nd child ws homeschooled for a but, his specific challenges, required a lot more all day long therapies and behavior monitoring, and his needs commanded my attention all day to such a degree my older child was in the background. So...He (the younger one) goes to a special needs private school (on scholarship with some money out of pocket). This has worked out better for us all after much deliberation. My homeschooler is actually in an umbrella school (not studying curriculum assigned by the school district) and we are legally allowed to call ourselves private schoolers.

    I am freaking out about the twice a year standardized testing (i am now reading here it is once a year, but even so) ...from what I hear if the child does not test well they (Polish authorities) have a right to say "NO!" to your homeschooling.

    My child will certainly not test out at grade level number one as he is learning disabled and does not operate at grade level (neither of my children do) and I am guessing that the stndardized test is in Polish...OMG! Even if he learned Polish, I cannot say in 1 years time it would be to the fluency level of reading a stndardized exam written in Polish.

    For a brief moment I thought about putting them both in an International school, but I hear some International schools wait until you get there and then tell you they don't have the resources for your special needs kid (what a nightmare!)...I thought about a special needs class in a Polish school (if they have them) but if the schools are substandard as someone here said...how good could the special needs schools / classes be?

    I do know in Poland there is a university that has a major to educate students to be special educators, but don't know anything about the programs there.

    But my priority is to homeschool my older child with as little legal intervention as possible (possibly both children if I cannot find an appropriate placement for my little one)

    I am not sure why I am writing, I am not sure you have any info regarding our families specific type needs. I just thought I'd share, because you have such an awesome site and we don't know many homeschooler's...and we are possibly heading to Poland. :-)

    If you have any input for us...regarding Least restrictive districts...Homeschooling special needs in Poland...or any special needs info at all. I would be grateful.

    Please Olivia if you have any input PLEASE post here and let me know. I am pretty desperate. Also please point me in the direction of an email address to contact you at if you have one listed here on site. I prefer not to post my email publicly, due to the vulnerability of my children...and that they cannot differentiate friend/ family from stargers...I do not like to post anything publicly where a stranger can try to make contact through the internet. But.... if you say you know anything that can help us...I will figure out a way to get in touch! Thank you so much in advance for all the help you have given others!
    Cheers!

    Tess


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    1. Hi Tess!

      Ok, first of all, to put your mind immediately at ease, as an American citizen, you do not have to worry about most of what you have written here.

      Email me as soon as possible, I am more than happy to email back and forth! olivia.demkowicz@yahoo.com ... there is also a link in the "about me" section that has my email address. I have given up on trying to hide my true identity on the internet. ;)

      I'm so glad you found my blog, I hope I can help out!

      Olivia

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  12. OMG I feel like crying I am writing you right now. Sorry for the typos! :-)

    Tess

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