Sign up for our newsletter
August 7, 2019
Tampa’s Retired Toddlers have been traveling the world after their parents. Their mom Michelle shares their experience of attending preschool in another country and it just might inspire you to make the leap!
We didn’t plan to put our kids in school in Mexico. To be honest: when they were born, I assumed central Mexico was too dangerous to bring children. In many regions, that certainly still holds true. But it holds true in parts of America, too.
In 2018 we decided to travel to a small lakeside town south of Guadalajara where we found a school that would allow our kids to pop in for 6 weeks. It was a small private school filled with local kids whom we hoped would share a positive cultural experience with our kids.
At the end of that short stint, we all decided that we loved the school and the community so much that we had to return to it the following year, but for twice as long! This would provide the kids with immersive language interactions and the opportunity to build friendships.
On the first day of school, Henley (then 5 years old) and Jagger (then 3) waved goodbye and headed into class as if they had been going there for years. They have learned to adapt quickly to new surroundings from all of our travels, but their willingness to return to this new place away from us each day surprised us. They only spoke a few words of Spanish going in and clearly stood out as foreigners. They weren’t bothered by it, though, and part of the cultural experience we wanted them to have was to understand how it feels to look and speak differently than those around you.
It wasn’t always easy for them. Early in the year, Henley came home from school really sad because she didn’t understand what was going on in class at times. Within two weeks, that all changed as she became comfortable with the routine, felt more confident to participate in class, and really began to connect with classmates.
What is the hardest thing about going to school in a different country?
Henley: “Hard? To meet new friends.”
Jagger: “That sometimes it’s hard for me to understand.”
Henley: “Learning different languages. That way I can talk more to my friends here.”
Jagger: “I get to make new friends.”
After 4 months of attending Mexican school taught 80% in Spanish, our kids are nowhere near fluent, but they do have a solid bilingual foundation. Their Spanish accents are… well… they aren’t accents at all! Instead, the way they pronounce the names of their classmates simply sounds the same as any other local child would say them. They speak more in phrases than in continuous sentences and they never fail to correct my awkward pronunciations. They may not be fluent, but they are learning a lifelong skill to communicate and connect with people that may not look or sound like them. At the end of the day, what more could we ask for?
Questions for us? Visit @RetiredToddlers for more.