Our daughter Saydi and her husband Jeff have just moved from Boston to London for six months. Jeff is working with a client in London who needed him full-time for their project so they packed up the kids, 7,6,3 and 1 and moved on over to London in January. I must admit that most of Saydi’s siblings are green with envy as they would give their eye-teeth to be living in our second home!
We lived there for three years when Richard was called to be the Mission President of the London South Mission many years ago from 1976-79! When we left, our four kids were about Saydi’s kids’ ages…..almost 6, 4 ½ , 2 ½ and Saydi who was about to celebrate her first birthday. Three years later we came home with two more who were born in Britain. Ten years later, after having three more kids we went back for six months so that the younger kids could experience a little of what the older kids had done. We were determined to have our kids fall in love with England.
In our wildest dreams when we took off for our first adventure in England all those years ago, we could never have foreseen that two of our kids would go back for a study abroad semester with BYU, three would return on missions of their own there, one would have the chance to study as a high school student at Oxford for a summer and one would be living there with her four kids 35 years later!
When Saydi and Jeff arrived in mid-January, there was no space in any of the nearby schools for the kids so home-schooling was there only option. And what an option! Saydi is a gifted teacher and loves what she is learning as she teaches! They are all having the time of their lives and last week we had the delightful opportunity to visit them in their suburb of London called Wordford Green.
On the “schoolroom” wall in their home, they have a time line for English history. They learn about it and then go see it! They have visited a plethora of historical spots in London central where they resided for the first three weeks of their adventure. They learned about Lord Nelson as they climbed on the magnificent lions at Trafalgar Square.
They have learned more about the Tudors from visiting numerous castles, all visited by King Henry VIII than we will ever know in a lifetime. When five-year-old Charlie is asked to describe the fate of Henry VIII’s six wives he says, “Died, Divorced, De-headed, Died, Divorced, Survived.”
While we were there we visited the wonders of Cambridge University, which is only about an hour from their house. We learned the history of the King’s College Chapel where the cornerstone was laid in 1444 A.D. as we were “punting” down the river in a fun little boat.
Maybe rather than home-school, we should call it On-Location-School. What a lot of fun they’re having living in the middle of all that history! Hazel can speak with a perfect British accent and she and her younger siblings are champions at negotiating their way through the subway and bus systems of London with their mom.
As with anything else in life and along with the enchanting experience of living with history also comes the real world. They bought a used car that breaks down on the motorway frequently (including with us on our way home from Heathrow Airport). As always, the kids save the day with their common sense way of looking at things. As we were ending our evening with the tow truck and Saydi was thinking of all the woulda, coulda, shoulda options for buying that car, Hazel piped up for the back seat with, “Mom, you’re over-thinking this!” With each new thing that complicated our situation with the car she just kept reminding us that “it’s all part of the adventure of England.” I think that sounds very much like something her parents would say….in a rational moment!
There was also sickness, which is inevitable. The night before we left there was an emergency run to the hospital for Jeff, who couldn’t turn his head with a swollen gland and Baby Peter who had a fever and could barely breathe. Such is life. Those siblings of Saydi’s who are wishing they were there with her may not have thought about the inevitable hard stuff that comes along with a move, a new country and the daily details with kids.
Still, could there be a more exciting adventure for kids as well as parents? Home-schooling in this case was totally different than what I had envisioned when all our kids were home. It reminded me that home-schooling should be a part of every child’s life, whether they are actually being schooled at home or are in the school system full time and being taught after school at the dinner table or in the car or during moments when we teach values and creativity. When it comes to schooling for our children, especially outside the “Three Rs”, the buck stops with us!