Thursday, May 31, 2012

To School or to HOMESCHOOL that is the question

I do not want to be one of those people who force my ideas on other people because I feel convicted. I do not want to be one of those parents who go around convincing other parents to homeschool. Everyone has a reason and everything under heaven has a season. I am in a season of schooling and boy am I confused. There is a part of me that wants to send my son to school and there is a part of me that believes I may be able to give my son a better education at home. I have been hearing some scary stories about kids Isaac's age (2.5 years old) being evaluated for lack of speech or lack of knowledge. What if my child is shy in front of strangers? What if he is a slow learner? What if he prefers soccer over his math book? Which school and which teacher will accept my son the way he is and wait for him to grow at his pace. After all we all say 'Each child is different'. In a class of 20 students does the teacher have time to learn about my child the way I have time for him. This being said right now I have very little time since I spend my minutes scrambling between Isaac and 9 month old Ziva.

While I am contemplating homeschooling I have seen a few people around me and have a few bones to pick about the conversations I have heard
I do not believe school is the devil like some people claim it to be.
I do not want to condone school. I went to school in a class of 52 students and I turned out just fine. I do not believe my parents had another way or my mother had the support system to homeschool me. So this is not me saying school is bad this is just me saying there is now another way available now that may be conducive to me and my family.
I do not believe homeschooling is the bestest way of education!
I do not believe all are called to homeschool.

Reasons I feel should not be used to homeschool
My child will pick up bad habits at school. Uhhhhh  They can pick them up numerous other places ... the park ... cousins... Uncles... aunts and especially parents! I kept using the SH*& word around Isaac yesterday as I tried to clean up the basement and things kept falling from my hands. I know my son can pick up bad habits from anywhere. Its up to me on how I train him away from it.
To bring up more God fearing and biblical orientated children. I think I can do that even if Isaac and Ziva went to school. We have numerous examples of people who were not homeschooled who love the Lord more than anything in the world. Again it is for me to train up my child.
To protect my child. I am beginning to learn that there is only one person who can always protect my children. I submit both of them to HIM. I will do my best to protect them ... but I can do nothing but through him!
School is too competitive. I do not believe it is school that causes competition. I think parents play an equally big role in putting that thought into their children's hearts and minds about being better than someone else. Rarely would you find a parent who would say 'Do better than what you did last time' i.e. improve yourself.

Reasons I am nervous of homeschooling.
I do not want to justify why I am homeschooling or why I am sending my children to school. I want to do it because I feel convicted. Because God has put it in my heart.
I do not know if I am able. Patient ... reliable  ... accountable.
I like structure and discipline in my life. I would like my children to be in bed at a particular time and awake and bright eyed at a particular time. I am still not certain homeschool in conducive to as structured a life as school especially in India.

Reasons I am nervous about school
I do not want my child to spend 2 hrs of his day in a school bus
I do not want my child to spend those 2 hrs on the bus napping. If he needs a nap he should be at home in bed restful not bumpy!
I do not want my child to lose his creativity if he goes to school.
I do not want someone who does not know my child to decide where his aptitude lies after a series of written tests.
Especially between the ages of 2 and 7 I want my child to have to option of 'doing something different today' - like go to the park and pick up stones, read some books ... or go grocery shopping with me (Very educational that grocery shopping trip !)

Why would I send my Child to school?
Well I do not know if Isaac will enjoy school unless he goes to school. I do not want to spend my life wondering if I deprived my child of some joy he would have gotten if he had gone to school. 
I do not know if Isaac will 'benefit' from school unless he goes to school.
Suresh loved school. He says he has some really good memories from school. Of course Suresh was also one of the more brilliant students and an all rounder and walked way with best student of the year and best sportsman of the year in his 12 grade. This past weekend Suresh's sister (Zoraida) was here and she handed me a book and said 'I thought you would like to keep this for Isaac.' It was a short stories book and she said Suresh got one of those every year for General Proficiency. The book Zoraida handed to me was from Grade II. I gave it to Suresh and his eyes lit up. I guess School memories can also be some good memories.

I have met numerous homeschooling families in the US and I am thrilled by my interactions with them. I love the idea of chores and children helping parents at home and sibilings sitting down together to study. I know one particular family where the kids have to go to bed at  8:30 pm and they have to be awake, make their beds and clean up before coming down for breakfast all before 6:30 am.

In India I know I will have the issue of parents around asking me why I am not sending my child to school. But I have watched my sister brave those issues and hope to get some pointers when I get stumped with hard questions. I have also watched my nieces and nephew enjoy themselves and sometimes complain as they immerse themselves in math, science and languages (Hindi!)

I occasionally ask Isaac -' Isaac do you want to go to school' Isaac so far has replied ' NO'
Then again Isaac says NO to everything.

For this year Isaac is not going to join any school for nursery! I will revisit my blog in about 6 months to see where we stand. I also like Faith's way of going about this --- one year at a time (

Monday, May 21, 2012

So hows life in India?

It has been just a little over 6 months since we moved to India. A lot of people have asked me ' How do you like India?' or 'How do you like Bangalore?' ....

Do I like it?
And how has it been?

Frankly telling you even though I was the instigator of the INDIA MOVEMENT, I was definitely a little afraid of how it would be in India. After all we had been out of India for 11 years.
Things have changed a lot! People we love a lot have passed away (My dad and Suresh's mom specifically) and new people have come into our lives. While we were making the decision to return, Suresh was concerned about the financial aspect of things and I was concerned about the emotional (and family politics) aspect of things.
So here is life in India for you from the Joel's

Well we have not yet been drowned in family politics. I guess I can thank the Lord for placing us in Bangalore. Bangalore is kind of like the centroid of three places - Mumbai, Kochi and Chennai. Between Suresh and me our family is dispersed between these three places. We have a sprinkling of cousins and friends in Bangalore but not the kind that will tell you how or which car to drive :). That being said it is wonderful to be close to home.

Suresh has rubbed off on me also in the past 11 years and his nonchalant manners come very handy when there are 6 people telling you to feed your child and 8 people shoving food down your child's throat. So the theme is to nod your head, take what you like and leave the rest at the table and calmly walk and away .... and remember DO NOT LOOK BACK!

But enough of me ... Isaac and Ziva are having a blast. I could think of no other place where there would be 6 people telling me to feed Isaac and Ziva and 8 shoving food in Isaac's mouth as he walks past them. Invariably the food is something I DO  NOT approve of like chocolate at 12 noon .... Excuse me its lunch time! The funniest was my aunt giving Isaac a candy while we were waiting to go from a wedding to the reception ... her point ' He's hungry' Isaac quickly munches the candy down and the goes back to my aunt, puts his chin into her handbag and says 'He's hungry ... He wants more' (Yes Isaac occasionally talks about himself in third person). Some six candies later he was bouncing off the wall with Suresh trying to control him and maintaining his 'nonchalant' looks.
But with a series of Appacha's (Grandpa's), Ammachi's (Grandma's), uncles and aunts around, Isaac and Ziva are enjoying family and hugs and kisses.

We have been to Kerala two times in the past 6 months and once to Chennai. The Chennai trip was especially fun because it was Suresh's sister Zoraida's little girl Amy's first birthday. A very special day indeed and we are glad we were close enough to make the trip!

We also went for our first family vacation in a long time with my sister and family and it was a blast!

                                                 (He's not a tame lion you know!)

I haven't yet had the need to partake in any serious family decisions and for this again I am grateful.

I am just kidding ... no we didn't turn millionaires when we moved to India! But it seems life in India is much more affordable for  the salaried!  In the US for quite some time we were a DINKS couple. Double Income No Kids. But it seemed very difficult to save anything significant. We were probably bad spenders and along the 11 years in US we have learnt a few lessons in debt/ spending/ budgeting.(Thanks Dave Ramsey: ) Life was always comfortable but I would never really call it luxurious. We did take a few good vacations (London/ Paris/Germany/ Hawaii x2/ Mexico/ Canada/ Korea) ...  but all well planned/ well saved up vacations!

Now we are a SITKS : Single Income Two Kids. But financially life is good. No we dont own a house or two cars. In fact we are using Suresh's mom's old car which works perfectly well for our little family. We rent in a lovely quiet neighborhood far from the city with a huge park within the community. As I have told many a friends and cousins who ask  ... I wouldnt care if the house was a hut instead ... but the park is to die for! I wouldn't have made it the first couple months in Banglaore (when I didnt have help with child care) without the park and 3 hr play times twice day!

We are also avoiding a significant expenditure every year ... $5000 for an India trip!

Food in India is CHEAAAAAAP ... Well you can get really expensive food if you want but we are freaking out on some street junk still. The chaats,  dosas and Katti rolls are  yummy and a family of 4 can eat a stomachful (with no repercussion the next day) for under Rs. 200 ($4). My cousin introduced me to this wonderful place called Adayar where my two year old sits alone and downs an entire masala dosa with no adult help.

Masala Dosa - $1
Watching Isaac eat it - Priceless

Suresh and I were discussing our finances the other day and for those of you who do not know we are big Dave Ramsey fans! Well per Dave Ramsey we have completed most of our Baby steps - i.e No debt, have 6 months savings in our bank and about 1/2 way through saving for a house! We had only 2 of the baby steps covered in the US. (
This being said I think it would be far besides me to not acknowledge the 'big Guy above' who has taken care of our every need so far. Thank you Jesus ... I know You will get me through the rest.

Part 3 - The Maid ... The Nanny ... The Cook ... The Dog walker and The Car cleaner
Life in India is not all that easy. Unlike the US you cannot leave vacuuming / sweeping for once a week! No it is a daily chore. Cooking is not as simple. Now  that you  are in India you get all the spices you need for your gravy .... you better use them all. Washing you car is a daily chore not once a month and time is precious so you rather not walk your dogs.
Even before we had a Gas stove in our house we had a maid who swept from top till bottom of your three level house and wiped down all the windows. Even before we bought a fridge or a microwave we had a cook. Suresh spent the first one week without a fridge and this lady (cook) was so phenomenal that she was able to cook for him exactly one meal! I.e. No leftovers! I remember I was in Bombay, still waiting for our stuff to arrive when Suresh called me and as we were chatting he mentioned now nice it was to have hot steaming FRESH food every night!

The maid now is our nanny -  a promotion she more than willingly accepted. She absolutely dotes on Ziva. Isaac is slowly warming up to her. He spent the initial few park visits howling, for me. Now he willingly says goodbye and is jabbering with her as she pushes the stroller to the park. Interestingly Isaac speaks no Tamil and our nanny speaks very little English. They understand each other perfectly. She is for us now Isaac and Ziva's Aunty who gets introduced to all our guest like she is part of the family.
I must say we are getting spoilt rotten. Isaac and Ziva's aunty does all chores in the house including putting in clothes for wash/ folding them and putting them into their respectful place in the wardrobes!  The other day I came back from grocery shopping and had about three big bags. I had to drop it at the kitchen floor and run off after Isaac to put him down for a nap. His nap became my nap and when I woke up two hours later all the bags were emptied and each item put in the correct place! There was this feeling of wow ... I must be on a vacation or something. The downside of this - I have gained 4 lbs in the last two months.

So ... I guess I can conclude Life in India is wonderful so far.

But .... there are annoying things too  and I will talk about it at another time. We also have a long TO DO list with respect to government paper work that we are afraid to approach. ... All that for next time.