— Author unknown
When we were originally looking at coming to Uganda, we decided that I would try my hand at home schooling Caleb. Mostly, this decision was based on economic reasons. While schools in Uganda are nationalized, they are not free and school fees can get pretty steep if you want to get into a good school. I was also under the understanding that I would be able to home school alongside one of the other eMi wives who we thought would be home schooling her children, one of whom is about the same age as Caleb.
Unfortunately, as our plans progressed, we learned that the other wife was no longer home schooling her children but had them enrolled in the local international school where she was also teaching. And, the school at which they were enrolled was full and had no room for any more students. So I was going to have to venture into the realm of home schooling on my own, especially since the home school co-op at the international school was also full.
While we made a valiant effort, it was a less than successful experiment. There is a reason that I did not go into teaching; I am not very good at it, at least not in the classical sense of the word. Caleb, bless his heart, definitely does better in the structure a traditional classroom provides, and he really needs interaction with peers.
Fortunately, we realized all of this fairly quickly and were able to get Caleb enrolled and guaranteed a spot at Heritage International School, a Christian school less than half a mile from our house where all the other eMi children attend. It was started in 1994 as a school for missionary children, hence the Christian influence. While it was originally based on an American curriculum, it draws students from a wide variety of nationalities including many Ugandans. Since it was started as a school for missionary children, self-supporting missionaries get a discount, which is really nice.
Unfortunately, we still had a month and a half of home schooling to go until we could break for the summer.
Summer came and went in the blink of an eye and the much anticipated “first day of school” was finally upon us. We had made great preparations for it, of course. Caleb and I had gone shopping for the necessary supplies, which are not readily available here and as easy to obtain as in the States. A full three days ahead of time, Caleb very carefully packed all of the new supplies into his brand new backpack his grandmother had brought him. We met his teacher and visited his classroom a few days before the start of school, not necessarily a common practice here in Uganda.
I must admit, I did not approach the day with quite the enthusiasm that Caleb did. My feelings were much more mixed about the whole thing. I looked forward to having more kid-free time, but I was also saddened to think that my baby was going to be starting kindergarten.
Finally, the big day was here. Once the requisite “first day of school” photos had been taken we headed out the door. While getting a ride to school on a boda-boda is not unheard of here in Uganda, I’m sure Caleb is one of the few mzungu children who gets to school that way. Of course, Caleb loves it.
And I’m happy to report the first day of school was a huge success. Caleb seems to really enjoy his teacher and classmates, and we seem to be off to the start of a good year. And I did pretty well, too. At least, I didn’t shed any tears. But still, it is hard to watch my baby growing up. That, I guess, is universal whether we are here in Uganda or back in the States.