Tag Archive for: Live Abroad with Children

The Bowens Share Their Insightful Story About Raising Children in Ecuador

The Bowen Family (La Familia Bowen) is from Washington State via Arizona in the United States, but now they live in southern Ecuador with their young children.

In this insightful story, they share what it’s like to raise a family in a foreign country and take grandchildren so far away from their grandparents.

A Letter to the Grandparents: We’re Moving to Ecuador!

The Bowens Raising Kids in Ecuador

Your adult child informed you he is planning on moving to Ecuador. And yes, he is taking your grandchildren with him.

Maybe you’ve heard it before, years ago: “Guess what! I’m going to backpack through Asia/join the Peace Corps/volunteer at a Moroccan camel rescue!”

If your response was, “Cool—let’s try to meet up when I finish circumnavigating the globe by dogsled,” then this letter is probably not for you.

But maybe you didn’t love it, then. You accepted it, sure, as a common precursor to Real Adulthood—one must find one’s self, after all. But such shenanigans are best confined to those blissful few years when one’s competent enough to hail a tuk-tuk but still so young he’s got his entire life ahead of him.

You certainly never expected this from your adult child. Not now, when the stakes are so much higher.

When you realized he was serious, you may have tailspinned into a cycle of grief. I bet you didn’t know that after denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance there’s actually a sixth stage called “I told you so,” during which you obsessively searched for news articles and personal antidotes of questionable reliability that draw attention to Every Bad Thing That’s Ever Happened in Ecuador Since the Beginning of Time.

You forwarded each of them (out of love, of course).

And yet his resolve is unchanged.

Where does that leave you? How do you reconcile this with the dreams you have for your grandchildren?

Grandpa Bowen in Podocarpus Ecuador

Making multigenerational memories in the Amazon

And, frankly, the dreams you have for yourself?

We’ve been there. Our parents have been there. And there’s really no way to lessen the blow. But know this:

Ecuador is a wonderful place to be a child.

So don’t worry.

At least, don’t worry anymore than you used to when we lived in the same town.

This is a good move, we promise. For all those adult sort of things that you once feared we’d never grow into, but also for our kids.

It’s going to be great.

Love,
Your adult children

Not quite good enough? We understand. And we invite you to read on.

What It’s Like to Raise Children in Ecuador

Ecuador is a small South American nation known for its diverse wildlife, resplendent vistas, and its production of bananas, orchids, and—
Forget it.

You’re not interested in that sort of thing. Not yet. Hopefully never, if your family comes to its senses and gives up this ridiculous scheme.

You want to know the reality of what awaits your grandchildren. And perhaps, to a lesser extent, their parents.

What does growing up in Ecuador look like? And why on earth would anyone choose to raise their kids there?

Bowen Children Studying in Ecuador

When Grampa’s a retired teacher and the grandkids moved to Ecuador, Grampa’s University lives on, thanks to Kindles and videoconferencing.

Here’s a bit of good news for you: Children are treasured here. And I don’t just mean your grandkids can expect to be cooed over by little old ladies in the supermercado, though that will routinely happen.

More significantly, the government has codified extensive protections and rights for children. We’ve read it, and it’s pretty impressive. There’s a strong sense that the entire country is responsible for its children. Mandatory reporting is a duty of all citizens.

Our trusted taxi drivers watch until our daughter has been met by whichever friend she’s waiting for. Parents send their children to run errands or ride their bikes to a friend’s house, never questioning that they’ll be safe.

Bikes…and scooters, skateboards, and strollers too… children in Ecuador spend a lot of time outside. Where we live in the lojano countryside (near Loja, Ecuador), the weather’s always springtime-perfect. Always. There’s never a need to bundle up, and if it rains? They’ll dry!

From kicking a soccer ball around in the parque to playing at the river to running around the farm, our kids are outside for hours each day. Almost all of that is unstructured time, critical for the development of so many skills, and something many children in the United States are missing out on.

That might sound like your own childhood—we say that when we moved to Ecuador we were transported to the past, in all the best ways.

Not that our kids always appreciate this new-old life. They miss visiting grandpa’s house, with its shelves of chips and freezer full of microwavable breakfast sandwiches and frozen appetizers.

There are very few convenience foods in Ecuador. We make almost everything from scratch, and the kids get to help. They’re learning a lot about meal preparation and nutrition, and the variety of fresh produce growing year-round is mindblowing.

Children in Ecuador love their french fries and ice creams, but the average diet is plenty nutritious to allow for those treats, plus whatever you bring them in your suitcase when you come visit. That same grandpa may or may not have lugged a Costco-sized carton of Red Vines all the way to Ecuador.

Our Ecuadorian friend’s irrelevant but insightful reaction upon trying said Red Vines: “It’s like eating a sweet candle.”

I saved you the best for last: Ecuadorian kids are happy. They’re also friendly, polite, cheerful, and well-adjusted.

But isn’t it sad that they’re missing out on Lego Robotics and club lacrosse? What about Disney princess tea parties and elaborate playgrounds?

It’s true—most of the playgrounds near us are pretty sketchy. But now our kids think ancient metal seesaws and janky swings are the greatest things in the world, so that’s cool.

Ecuador doesn’t have all the things. At least not in the campo (countryside), where we live. When Grandpa visits and asks the kids what they want to do, they answer: “I know! We can walk the other direction today!”

But kids here don’t seem to think they’re missing out. Who are we to tell them otherwise?

 

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When Grandchildren Live Abroad

Grandpa Bowen Ecuador Waterfall

Grandpa discovered just how cold an equatorial waterfall can be!

I bet I know what you’re thinking… All this sounds great. For Ecuadorians. Which your grandchildren are not. Their experience is going to be different. They have to contend with language-learning, and, perhaps trickier, culture-learning.

Will it be hard? Probably. And depending on the schooling option their parents choose it may not come quickly. But bilingualism is an incredible gift. And biculturalism? Even more so.

To learn the humility that comes with being an immigrant… To discover the beauty and blessing of “different,” firsthand… To learn to be flexible and be able to adapt… To expand one’s definition of a successful life…

These are complex and challenging things to learn. And while there is a lot that you can and should teach your grandchildren, these are lessons that can’t easily be delivered around your dining room table. Gifts that aren’t yours to give.

But there are some gifts that can come from you, alone:

  • Learn the technology that will allow you to stay in touch. Whether it’s Zoom, Marco Polo, or good, old fashioned email, there are so many ways to lessen the distance. Both sides of our families started family Whatsapp groups. In some ways, we’re more connected now than ever.
  • Commit to visiting, if finances and health allow. Credit is due to our parents: It’s an understatement to say they weren’t overjoyed when we announced our move (on Mother’s Day, no less). Oops. But every single one of them expressed their willingness to visit. Brittany’s dad was even willing to brave the snakes and huts on stilts that he assumed were in our future!
  • Validate your grandchildren’s fears and struggles without undermining their parents. We promise: We want what’s best for them, too. And on the flipside, enjoy the fun of discovery along with them. Exclaim over the new things they’re seeing and doing and share in the adventure.

Being International Grandparents

There’s even one more stage of grief, it turns out, one unique to international grandparents: ambassadorship.

You’ll start to hear about Ecuador all over the place. You’ll see headlines, meet people who have visited, become aware of Ecuadorian celebrities and sports stars. You might end up championing Ecuador to the point your friends are sick of it and wish you would just move, already.

Maybe this isn’t going to be so bad, you’ll start to think.

In fact, maybe it’s going to be great!

Schools & Raising Kids in Ecuador

Ecuador is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture, that’s why many people choose to live there as expats. If you’re moving to Ecuador with children, one of your top concerns will be finding the right school for them.

Additionally, raising children in a foreign country has its unique challenges, but it can also be a rewarding experience.Schools and Raising Kids in Ecuador

In this article, we’ll explore how it is to raise children in Ecuador and the different types of schools in Ecuador, including public, private, international, and homeschooling, to help you make an informed decision.

Raising Children in Ecuador

We interviewed Jason, an Australian digital nomad, and Michelle, an Ecuadorian with 15 years of experience in the tourism industry, to share their experiences raising children in Ecuador.

Cultural Differences

One of the most significant cultural differences that Jason has faced is how much children are adored in Ecuador. Everywhere they go, people flock to children, which can be nice but takes some getting used to.

Breastfeeding is another aspect that Jason and Michelle noticed, it is a natural part of human evolution that no one will scold you for doing. In Ecuador, breastfeeding is openly accepted, and people will even give you pointers on how to do it correctly.

The “machismo culture” is another aspect that Michelle brings up. Although it is changing, there is still a significant difference in how women and men are treated, and the same goes for boys and girls. For example, it is still common for people to tell boys not to wear pink because it is for girls or to tell girls to help in the kitchen because that’s what girls do.

Jason and Michelle Expats Ecuador

Parenting as a Blended Family

Michelle and Jason are a blended family, and one of the most significant challenges they face is needing permission from both biological parents to travel outside of Ecuador with their children.

It is a real sticking point for them, as they need the father’s permission to take the children on a family vacation to Australia.

Activities for Children

There are many different activities for children in Ecuador, with soccer being the most popular one.

Other activities that are gaining popularity include aerial yoga, which is not traditionally done by males in Ecuador, making Michelle’s son’s choice to do aerial yoga an excellent example of breaking stereotypes.

In addition, there are many cultural events, including festivals, parades, and concerts, that children can attend.

 

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Types of Schools in Ecuador

Public Schools in Ecuador

Raising Kids in EcuadorPublic schools in Ecuador are free for all students, but they’re not the best option for expat children. The quality of education is low, and the infrastructure is poor. Teachers also rotate frequently, making consistency difficult to achieve.

Additionally, most public schools require students to speak Spanish, which can be a significant barrier for non-spanish speakers.

Private Schools in Ecuador

Private schools in Ecuador are the most common choice for expats. They offer better infrastructure and a higher quality of education than public schools.

However, they are more expensive, with tuition fees ranging from $300 to $1000 per month. Most private schools require students to learn Spanish, but they also offer personalized education to help expat children overcome the language barrier.

International Schools in Ecuador

International schools in Ecuador are the most expensive option, with tuition fees of up to $1000 per month. They offer a more comprehensive education that includes subjects in English and other languages. They’re an excellent choice for expat children who plan to attend university in their home country or elsewhere.

However, they’re not necessary for most children, as private schools offer an excellent education at a more reasonable price.

Homeschooling in Ecuador

Homeschooling is becoming increasingly popular in Ecuador, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic many schools were forced to switch to virtual learning.

It allows parents to control their children’s education, providing a personalized curriculum that includes emotional intelligence training, which isn’t always recognized in Ecuadorian curriculums.

Homeschooling is also an excellent option for expat families who want to travel frequently or live a more flexible lifestyle.

However, it’s essential to note that homeschooling is a life-changing decision that requires a significant commitment from parents.

Private Schools in Manta, Ecuador

We also interviewed a family from the United States who live in Manta and send their child to a private preschool.

They explained that in Ecuador, parents can get high-quality education at a fraction of the cost compared to the United States. Private schools in Manta, such as Glenn Doman and Leonardo Da Vinci, offer a great education for children from preschool to high school.

The Leonardo Da Vinci school is a bilingual school, and they teach three days of Spanish and two days of English. This is a great opportunity for children to become bilingual and learn a new language at a young age.

Enrollment in private schools is simple, and parents will need to make an appointment with the school, go through an application process, and meet with the school director. This is also an opportunity for parents to ask questions and ensure that the school is the right fit for their child.

Private schools in Manta have smaller class sizes ranging from 10 to 25 students per class, with a focus on basic subjects and additional courses like computers, electronics, and tablets.

The schools, whether public or private, are inclusive of families, and they often host school functions that bring parents and students together. This is a great opportunity for parents to meet other parents and make new friends in the area.

While private school tuition fees are significantly lower in Ecuador than in the United States, parents should also be aware of additional costs associated with schooling, such as school supplies.

Final Thoughts

Ecuador is an excellent place to raise children, but it does come with its unique challenges. By being aware of cultural differences, finding ways to participate in activities that interest their children, and choosing the right school, parents can create a fulfilling experience for their families.

Private schools in Manta, such as Glenn Doman and Leonardo Da Vinci, offer high-quality education at a fraction of the cost compared to the United States, making Ecuador an attractive destination for expats.

If you would like even more information on this topic, checkout this guide from Jason and Michelle on their blog Expats Ecuador.

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How to Prepare Your Children for a Life Abroad

Enrolling in school abroad can be an exciting and rewarding experience for both children and parents. Not only does it provide a unique opportunity to learn about different cultures and ways of life, but it can also open up new academic and career opportunities.

However, the process of finding and applying to schools, understanding the education system, and preparing children for life in a different country can be overwhelming.

In this article, we will explore some tips and considerations for enrolling in school abroad to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Finding and Applying to Schools

Finding and Applying to Schools

The first step in enrolling in school abroad is to research and find schools that are a good fit for your child’s needs and interests. You can start by looking at international schools, which typically offer curriculums and teaching methods that are similar to those in your home country. These schools are often a good choice for expat families because they provide a sense of familiarity and continuity for children. If you’re moving to Ecuador you’ll find excellent international schools in Quito, Cuenca, Manta and Salinas.

You can also look at local schools, which will provide a more authentic cultural experience but may have a different educational system. These schools are often a good choice if you are looking to fully immerse your children in the local culture and language.

When applying to schools abroad, it’s important to pay attention to the application deadlines and requirements. Some schools may require entrance exams, interviews, or additional documentation, so be sure to check this information well in advance.

Additionally, some schools may have a limited number of spots available for international students, so it’s important to apply as early as possible. You’ll also need to look into the tuition fees, as they can vary greatly between schools and countries.

Understanding the Education System

Understanding the Education System

Each country has its own education system, and it’s important to understand the differences before enrolling in school abroad. Some countries may have a different school schedule, grading system, or curriculum than your home country.

It’s also worth researching the language of instruction, as some schools may teach in a different language than your child is used to.

You’ll need to understand the education system as much as possible and consider how it compares to the system in your home country to ensure that your child will be well prepared for their next step in education or career.

Preparing Children for Life in a Different Country

Moving to a different country can be a big adjustment for children, so you’ll want to prepare them as much as possible.

This includes helping them learn about the culture, customs, and language of the country they will be moving to.

Preparing Children for Life in a Different Country

It’s also a good idea to talk to your child about the expectations and challenges of living in a different country and how you will support them during the transition.

Involve your children in the planning and decision-making process, as it will help them feel more invested and excited about the move.

Another important point to consider is the social aspect of the move. Finding friends and building a social network can be challenging for children, especially if they don’t speak the language.

Look for extracurricular activities and clubs that align with your child’s interests, as it will provide them with opportunities to meet other children and make friends.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to look into local expat groups, as they can provide a sense of community and support for both children and parents.

You can find expat parenting groups on Facebook, such as Expat Parents in Cuenca and Expat Parents Quito. We also have a channel in our private chat community dedicated to parenting.

Conclusion

Enrolling in school abroad can be a great opportunity for children to learn about different cultures and ways of life, but it does require careful research, planning, and preparation.

By understanding the education system, researching and applying to schools, preparing children for life in a different country and focusing on building a social network, parents can ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible for their children.

It’s also important to remember that moving abroad is a journey, and it’s okay to have moments of uncertainty and difficulty.

It’s essential to stay positive and open-minded and to take advantage of all the opportunities that come with living in a new country. With patience and support, both children and parents can thrive in their new home abroad.

Watch This Related Video About Raising Kids in Ecuador

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