TCK Education Today: Options and Factors to Consider


What should we do about our children’s education? What are our options? What would be best for Sue? Ino? Kwaku?…

If you’re a missionary and a parent, undoubtedly you’ve asked these or similar questions.

Prayer, careful consideration of all available information, experience, and the sage advice of veteran missionaries who’ve walked this trail before, can provide the help needed to make the right decision for your family.

Children grow, families move, situations change, and parents are faced with the same questions- perhaps many times.

This article explores the bigger picture of options and factors missionaries might consider in selecting true education that will best prepare our children for joyful service anywhere on earth and for heaven – soon, with their best friend, Jesus.

True Education

“True education means more than the pursuit of a certain course of study… To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind and soul, that the divine purpose in his creation might be realized – this was to be the work of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of life” (Ellen G. White, Education, p. 13,15,16).

Our task as parents is to balance all the options and factors discussed here with this ’big picture’ or philosophy of true Adventist education .

Whatever choices we make for our children’s education, we must never lose sight of our most important educational goal-the formation of a Christ-like character.

Educational Options

Four types of schooling are available to most missionaries:

Home Schools: Many missionaries educate their own children, or oversee their tutoring by selected individuals, within or near their homes.

MK Schools: Others enroll their children in day or boarding schools for missionary kids, usually located in an area where one or more missionary organizations are very active.

National Schools: Some missionaries choose to enroll their children in government or church schools for the children of the country in which they serve.

International Schools: Missionaries in large cities or centers may send their children to schools operated by one or more foreign countries (e.g. USA, UK, France) for expatriate students.

The following chart outlines some of the advantages and disadvantages of these four educational options:

Options Advantages Disadvantages
Flexible, mobile,
At home, parental
Short day, children can do more.
Possible lack of social
Not suited to all
Difficult with special
needs children.

Set up for TCKs.
MK identifies with
peer group.
May require boarding or
boarding might not be
May be ingrown and
May not be Adventist.
Learn language and
Make lots of local
Usually inexpensive.
Can stay at home.
Quality of education
may be poor.
Credit transfer may be
Christian schools may be unavailable.
May make re-entry harder.
High academic
Supportive of TCKs.
International student
Usually expensive and elitist.
Often secular.
May require an
additional cultural

So, how do we choose?

Consider the following factors:

Individual Child: Each child, within the same family, is unique.  What works for  one personality or learning style will not be the best choice for another. A different decision may be needed for each child.

Parents: Parental expectations, for their children and of the education systems, vary. Some options may not be acceptable to the family.

Practicality: Consider the parent’s position, location of mission and/or school, cost of tuition, language of instruction, transportation issues, differences in educational system requirements, etc.

Future: Answering the question, “Who do you want your child to be at age 18?” plays an important role in determining the best educational option for each child. Think and plan ahead.

Re-evaluation: Changes in any number of factors in your situation will affect the decision you make this year for each child. Plan to re-evaluate every child’s situation every year. Parent and child will be less stressed by changes in educational choices if annual re-evaluation is anticipated.

Answering the following questions can be helpful in choosing the right educational options:

  • How does the child feel about the options? Listen carefully. Weight their preferences.
  • Is there a language change? A culture change? How does this child handle change?
  • How does this choice affect high school and college options? Be informed. Plan ahead.
  • Is this child a self-motivated learner? Does this child learn  better in a group or alone?
  • What are the ministry expectations for Mom? For Dad? Home schooling takes time.

With good research and planning, your child can benefit tremendously from your active involvement and concern in his/her education.

But remember it does not end here, staying involved in your child’s education, encouraging him/her to work hard and by providing additional opportunities to learn, you will be helping him go further.

By Glynis Bradfield

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