Sunday, 7 September 2014

What Do Your Kids Know About Their Passport Country - and Does It Matter?

MissM's school day will finish at 2pm every Wednesday for at least the first term of this school year.
That's about 14 weeks.

The first thing I thought was 'what the heck will we do from 2pm every Wednesday, especially in winter?'

Then, it came to me.

One of my better ideas, I think.

G laughed.

MissM took some convincing but she's all for it.

We're going to do Home Schooling in the subject of Australia - My Home Country from 2.30-3.30pm every Wednesday.

Yeah yeah, you're all going WT is ms-havachat on? She has chatted on several occasions about how frustrating and emotionally challenging homework is and now she's suggesting home schooling.

Hear me out.

As an expat, MissM doesn't know much about her home country, Australia. She's certainly not alone in this. Once you 'leave' you get caught up learning about your new home, whether it be at school or simply by being out'n'about sight seeing and experiencing your new home.

How many of you, reading this are expats?

What do your kids know of their passport country?

MissM was only a toddler when we left Sydney so to be fair, why would she know anything about Australia? She's only lived in one area of one city. We did a few holidays with her, but she doesn't remember anything.

We visit Sydney, albeit it a major city in Australia, regularly enough for MissM to have a feel for the place, but really she sees the inside of family and friends houses, enjoys our traditional meal of fish'n'chips on either Bondi or Coogee beaches. We might pop over to Taronga Zoo for the day, have a picnic in Centennial Park and that's about all there's time for.

She'll possibly never see The Blue Mountains or the 3 Sisters in Katoomba; she'll hear of friends experiences on the Great Barrier Reef, or in Kakadu, her cousins went to Uluru last Easter and she saw a few photos. Will she ever go to the NSW Art Gallery, or see a show at the Opera House (she has done Baby Proms, I'm pleased to say); what about watch a game of rugby league at Homebush (she's seen the Wallabies play twice in Dublin and nearly every other match they play on TV); what about the Royal Easter Show?

Will she re-visit Melbourne? Or the Gold Coast?

I've never been to Perth! Or Alice Springs or Darwin. Not have I done the Ocean Road, or crossed the Nullabor. However, I have gone on a driving holiday as a kid with mum and dad and brother from Sydney-Lightening Ridge and back; to Adelaide following the Murray River; a few times up'n'down the highway to Melbourne, and once up to the Gold Coast.

I'm embarrassed sometimes to hear of Irish friends Australian-back packing adventures as they have seen more and done more than I have. To be fair, they say the same about us living here.

Maybe we are all guilty of playing tourist in other people's countries, and should do it more often in our own!

Australia is such a HUGE country, that very few people see it all ..... my inlays have seen most of it over the years as they caravan for months on end, travelling thousands of kilometres.

Think real hard - how much of your home country do you know? Do you know it cos you learnt it, or from experience, a kinda of natural intuition?

It's hard living somewhere else, and knowing nothing (ok, very little) about 'home' even tho you know a lot about where you currently live.

MissM can talk to you about Newgrange in Ireland or The Book of Kells, she knows Irish fairies are nasty, and that if you kiss the Blarney Stone you'll talk for ever. She knows all about Molly Malone, and several Irish fables. She's travelled extensively and seen a LOT of this country.

She knows about Setsubun and Hinamat-suri festivals in Japan; Chinese and Japanese New Years and Guy Fawkes Night in the UK. She's seen Golden Temples, Golden Buddhas, Shrines, in Japan, Bangkok and Singapore.

She's travelled more in her short 10 years than I did - she could not believe that we never went overseas as a family for holidays; and that I was 20 years old before I went overseas with a friend.

She's been to Bangkok, Singapore, Budapest, Majorca, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Pompeii, Paris, Copenhagen, London ................. then G says, does it matter she doesn't know about Sydney or Melbourne when she's experiencing the world?



YES it does!

It's her home (well, technically, Dublin's home for now, and Sydney is 'where we're from') and we're her parents, and she should know about Australia.

Knowing about Australia will help her feel like she's from somewhere ... won't it??????????

Sooner or later, someone is going to ask her to make a presentation on Australia, her 'home country' and the poor kid won't really know more than the average tourist - kangaroos, koalas, Uluru, Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Manly Ferries, fish'n'chips on the beach, watching her cousin surf.

She doesn't really care that she doesn't know much, which is kinda sad. She said, I left when I was two and a half, I'm not supposed to know anything.

WOW I thought. That's an interesting perspective she has.

After a chat, she agreed that she should know a bit more than she does, even if it's just to save embarrassment at some point in the future.

The American kids at school have an exemption from learning Irish, and attend American Studies.
And that's when I thought AHA!!!!!!!!!!!!

They don't offer Australian Studies - but I can!

As soon as I'm sorted, we'll be doing Australian Studies from 2.30pm - 3.30pm every Wednesday. MissM is a bit excited and asked me if any new kids from Australia join school, can they join us.

MrsH gave her Steve Parish Amazing Facts about Australian Marine Life, and his 1000 Questions and Answers about Australia for a birthday a few years ago; also on her book shelves and ol'f favourites are Mem Fox stories, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and more; MrsS was very kind and pointed me in the right direction for a few online, age appropriate learning aides; I bought the DK Australia travel guide today and will buy a few more things and we'll be set.

If any of my Aussie teaching friends are reading this, please message me any other ideas you have :)

My plan is to work thru bit by bit the basics of HOME knowledge (states, territories, capitol cities, major regional centres; bit of history; famous landmarks; UNESCO listed places and so on). Nothing too hard, nothing too serious, just enough good ol' fashioned general knowledge so she can hold her own if asked.

We're both a bit excited about this new project,

Keep you posted for sure,

How much of your passport country do you kids know about?
If not a lot, does it bother you? Why?
How have they learnt about 'home'?
What do you think about playing tourist in your own city/country before 
travelling overseas?


  1. Hmmmm this is a tricky one for me and the question of identity. The country where my children were born isn't 'my' country, nor that of their father. I don't think they consider it home, but they are perhaps too young to remember most of it. They've seen more of hubby's family in Europe and NZ than my family, anywhere anytime, although they complain that their cousins don't speak any English.

    But where is home? Who knows. For the moment it is here in the UK, and this is where they are in school, have strong friendships, and mummy has a great network of friends. They are now old enough to really remember things so this is what will stick with them as 'home', I believe.

    Is it home for me? Well, I feel more at home here than I ever did in NZ. That being said I'm not sure that we as a family could live in my home country the US - especially with the kids being of school age. I love MY home, but recognise it isn't THEIR home.

    I think it is a tremendous idea to do Aussie studies every day - as you note it will be more fun than hard work for Miss M. I'm sure you'll find lots of online resources too even if its just Google Earth! I am going to consider doing the same for the US when they are a wee bit older.

    As they saying goes, home is where the heart is. If that's the case then it's wherever the kids and I are together (all together now, awwwwwwwwww how sweet) :-)

    1. Home is absolutely where the heart is, and where we are as a family; of course, in your case and for many other families, with parents from different countries, kids born in a different city the combinations of 'home' are many and varied.
      Ours is very simple.
      Yes, there's also the FEELING of home ..... which can sometimes be found in cities other than your city of birth.
      See how complicated it is LOL

      PS: We're not doing it every day honey! Just an hour on a Wednesday to fill in time and remove the hassle of TV over winter from MissM's immediate grasp.