Moving back home temporarily for education issues

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I am just brainstorming and was wondering if anyone had done something similar. We are thinking of moving back sans spouse (who has a job here) for a year so the kids can attend school in the U.S. Our plan was to enroll them in Grundschule, and move when one of them is in 2nd grade, and move back to Germany after one school year. There are several reasons for us to do this--one being language immersion. I just wanted to know if anyone has done this before and how did it work out.

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Go and read your "Topics"...

 

Then ask yourself... Is this for a year?? Is this really about the kids?

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Go and read your "Topics"...

 

Then ask yourself... Is this for a year?? Is this really about the kids?

 

Huh? How did you come to that conclusion? Yes, this is about the kids. It will be a joint decision.

I know it may be disruptive but it is the same as when families move for jobs back and forth. I worked with such families and their kids were just fine. I am more concerned about being held back when we move back to Germany. Or having limited options regarding education here. Bullying? Any other experiences if people have done that.

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I went back for a while, I wanted to make myself more employable here. I spent a couple of years getting fighting fit through extra academic and professional qualifications, language skills and job experience. I was able to come back and get a job which I wouldn't hav got before.

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Yep, muchado, this is exactly what I did. Took my daughter back to the U.S. for a year in 2nd grade. The reason had nothing to do with her language skills, which were strong since we speak English at home and she is at a bilingual German-American school. It had more to do with personal reasons, which were all well-served by the decision. The shift was more or less seamless for my daughter. This was facilitated by the fact that we spent the U.S. year living at my parents' house, which she already knew well, and that the local school in the U.S. was in a friendly, small, academic town and was used to having kids come for a year or semester at a time. Since she was registered as coming from Germany, one of the first things they did was test her to see if she needed EFL instruction! (This made us all laugh.) It didn't mean going without one of her parents, as her dad was already an infrequent figure in her life at that point.

Also a factor was the nature of her friendships. My daughter tends to be appreciated and well-liked, but she doesn't latch on to a single "best" friend. All of her friendships seem to have a certain distance in them, and she doesn't pine for people when they are not there. Friends are important to her, but what really rules her environment is home and family, and that means me.

 

Had she been in a German school, the school curriculum shifts might have been more substantial, but her school follows an American curriculum, so this wasn't a problem. In any case, 2nd grade is about learning to read and do basic addition and subtraction, no matter where you are. Coming from Germany, your 2nd grader might be a bit behind, but with a nurturing teacher/school system s/he will quickly catch up.

 

One thing I would look into carefully is what U.S. school you will be enrolling your child at. Be in touch with the school and find out what they will do to accommodate you and your children. Also, find out if you need to take a leave of absence in order to keep your place in your German school. I needed to do this at mine, but it's a high-demand school with a limited acceptance ratio.

 

Also, remember that if you are American, you might need to get permission from the Ausländerbehörde to be gone for a year. (With a Niederlassungserlaubnis, for example, you need to return to the country every 6 months or the permit expires.)

 

Good luck! And don't let them diss you for the question: seems perfectly legitimate to me. PM me if you want, though it might take me a few days to respond (I'm insanely busy right now).

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Wow! Awesome information. Thanks so much. There are so many things you've mentioned that I didn't even think about. Although, I am beginning to fear this transition (if it ever happens) with today's news rampant on every network.

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Your plan sounds like it would be disruptive for the whole family. Being taken from one school system to another and then having to adapt all over again a year later? Not much fun.

 

No reason why the kids can't learn adequate English here. Lots of parents on this board are raising bilingual children very successfully.

 

Agree. If the kids are already learning English here, and I believe it's compulsory anyway, then why not wait till they finish high school, and then they can go on and do a sabbatical in the States or wherever?

 

Move could be disruptive, but then again, depends how all concerned handle it. A year's not very long to go through all the hassle once and then twice in settling abroad, then resettling over here. Very energy-consuming, but then, that's just me I guess.

 

Wishing you luck, whatever you choose to do!

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Yes, this kind of back-and-forth move IS energy-consuming, but mainly for the adults, not the kids. If you are an organized person, it's really not that bad. I don't know why bluemoo, westvan, and others view it so negatively. I grew up in an academic family, and given the sabbatical system for professors, I spent a 1st-grade semester in Seattle, WA, and then a 4th-grade year in the UK. Both were great experiences for me and helped widen my horizons considerably. Since the rest of my childhood was spent in the same small town, I still had strong, enduring friendships. Also, my family is warm and loving; we always did lots of stuff together when I was a kid: trips, sports, etc. That was more than enough to keep me stable and avoid "disruption."

 

I do think it is worth taking a close look at your motivations. Is this just about the weirdness, for you, as an American, of adjusting to the German educational system? If the kids are in a German-German school? You can read loads of complaints on Toytown from parents who don't like or don't get the way things are done here. On the other hand, I don't consider the Germans to be grotesquely uneducated, right?!, and I find that at this young age, easily half of the learning can be supported / accomplished by the home environment. Or maybe I just happen to have a clever, quick learner. In any case, reading books at home and playing around with math are huge at a young age.

 

Not to be indiscreet, but if there are some tensions in your relationship, I highly doubt it would help for you to take off with the kids for a year. Your German partner MUST feel 100% involved and engaged with this decision.

You know, when a bicultural couple has met and established itself in one country, and then moves (especially with kids) to the spouse's country, it generally unleashes a rollercoaster of issues and struggles. The whole balance of need / caregiving / support in the couple is thrown off. I've seen more than one marriage split up at this point.

 

Oh, and yes, the prevalence of gun violence in the U.S. gives me pause. We must encourage political action on gun control. It's the only way. I'd ban the Second Amendment, if you asked me. Until then, we have to protest and pressure for smaller changes regarding background checks, permissions, bans on assault rifles, etc. It is a horror.

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If it's about language skills, couldn't you split the difference and put them in some summer camp in the US every year or supplement the English education at home in Germany? There are also loads of English enrichment activities available in most cities (playgroups, music, clubs, small libraries...)

 

I can understand the concern about them losing the opportunity to really experience the US, but it's hard to have it both ways. Plus, if you go back, you've got immigration, health insurance, separation from their other parent, adjustment issues, coordinating the two education systems so they don't lose a year...

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Not to be indiscreet, but if there are some tensions in your relationship, I highly doubt it would help for you to take off with the kids for a year. Your German partner MUST feel 100% involved and engaged with this decision.

You know, when a bicultural couple has met and established itself in one country, and then moves (especially with kids) to the spouse's country, it generally unleashes a rollercoaster of issues and struggles. The whole balance of need / caregiving / support in the couple is thrown off. I've seen more than one marriage split up at this point.

 

YES, read, rinse, repeat. I was on this roller coaster, and nearly ended up divorced.

 

 

separation from their other parent

Let's not forget separation of the spouses. Probably more detrimental! Sex is important. Fact.

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mlovett, I agree with you but we are both from this mindset that children come first...for now.

It's not just about the language skills. I do want them to experience being American and not see it from the outside only. I could put them in day camps or summer camps and that will definitely be an option. But since I have the resources at home to educate them, have a place to live etc. I thought we'd give it a try.

I also want to reiterate that there is nothing wrong with our marriage--well, not any more than than the usual stuff. Both of us are in the brainstorming stage as we have about 3-4 years before this would happen. And yes, we would BOTH be on board if this went through. My spouse knows that I didn't want to move to Germany. It is not a place that has grown on me. It might still. And this is his compromise. I am not threatening to leave. We are discussing what's best for our kids and what our own values and world views for our children are. I don't want my kids to grow up being entirely German (even if that's offensive to some) and since they are also my kids, I get to have a voice in their upbringing. Hubby is fully aware of this and he is very understanding. However, things might change and I might grow to love Germany and want to remain here.

I think children are resilient and adaptable. As I mentioned before, (German) kids that I taught adapted to their environment very quickly. Other kids have moved with their families from city to city or country to country. It doesn't matter. It is disruptive but it's not a bad disruptive. It doesn't have to be. I agree with Justanne on this.

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If it's about language skills, couldn't you split the difference and put them in some summer camp in the US every year or supplement the English education at home in Germany? There are also loads of English enrichment activities available in most cities (playgroups, music, clubs, small libraries...)

 

I can understand the concern about them losing the opportunity to really experience the US, but it's hard to have it both ways. Plus, if you go back, you've got immigration, health insurance, separation from their other parent, adjustment issues, coordinating the two education systems so they don't lose a year...

 

I didn't think about the health insurance. You're right...it is hard to have it both ways. Although, it's also not impossible. As Justanne wrote, I have to be super organized about everything.

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Would you plan to put them back into German public school when you returned, or would they attend an international school?

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Justanne are you still together with the father though?

 

I cant imagine why a father would 'give up' his kids for a year or two - cant see why that would be good?

 

 

I don't want my kids to grow up being entirely German (even if that's offensive to some) and since they are also my kids, I get to have a voice in their upbringing.

to be honest I cant see 1 year making much difference in that way

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Would you plan to put them back into German public school when you returned, or would they attend an international school?

 

I really don't know westvan. We were thinking of going the German school route for Grundschule and evaluating what needs to be done for secondary school. So, I don't know.

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Justanne are you still together with the father though?

 

I cant imagine why a father would 'give up' his kids for a year or two - cant see why that would be good?

 

to be honest I cant see 1 year making much difference in that way

 

I would have to disagree. And their father is not giving them up. How ridiculous! You do know they have planes to get from one place to another?

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How would you keep their German up in the U.S. if you decided to put them back in German elementary school?

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boomtown -- no. Her (German) dad, who was the reason we decided to move here in the first place, left me four years ago and moved to France. I stuck it out here for three years, with her flying occasionally, solo, to see him, or him coming here. (Those who've been on the forum for a while might remember this: Is 6 too young to fly alone?) Then, since Germany still hadn't really "grown on me" (sorry to disappoint, muchado, but expats seem to find this a hard place to grow to love!), I offered myself a "sabbatical year" back home. Her dad has co-custody, so I did need his approval to do this. Fortunately, he's become a pretty reasonable guy, so he agreed to this.

 

Ironically, just as I am on the brink of deciding to really and truly give up on Germany and move back to the U.S. for good, my ex seems about to give up on his French girlfriend and move back to Berlin. This throws a hitch in the works! Now what do I do?? Still mulling it over. To be honest, 20 dead children in a gun-obsessed land of loonies is not helping my deliberations at the moment.

 

Muchado, about health care: I have private insurance here. I "suspended" my coverage for the year, paying a nominal amount per month in order to ensure I could return at the same rate I already had. (They told me that if I cancelled and then signed up anew, it would cost much more.) Meanwhile, in the U.S., I was lucky enough to be living in Massachusetts, where we enjoy the benefits of Mitt Romney's universal health care package (!!!). I'm low-income, so the kid and I ended up with free healthcare the whole time we were there. Go figure.

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I haven't figured out how to support my child's English in Hamburg (no offense to Hamburg, just I haven't found a way so far) affordably so I sympathise with Muchado. If money were no option and I intended my German-speaking child to graduate from the public German school system and still have some active English I'd try to let my child do one year in an English speaking environment before grade 4 and the German school stress starts. Might doing a half school year out of Germany be a possible compromise? Maybe less painful for the parent who won't be seeing the child during the time. Then repeat while a teenager?

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