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We spoke to the lovely Ann and Juliette who are now good friends after meeting at the school their children go to, Si Ri Panya (as of the first of October this is a fully registered tutorial school). They talked to Phanganist about bringing up children here on Phangan island and the education decisions they have had to make.
All of Ann’s children were born in sweden, when they came to Thailand they were aged two, five and seven, This was four years ago.
“My oldest boy went to Swedish school before he came, then eight months to American International school in Bangkok. That is where they learnt english and they were all speaking English by the time we got to Koh Phangan”.
“Homeschooling for me is a big struggle, to be a teacher for my kids. It is better for my kids, if they have someone else teaching them as they concerntrate more. Teaching is not for me, people who are good at it should do it”.
“All families do what is best for their children, I wouldn’t do a good job teaching them”.
There are also lots of benefits of being brought up on an island and children going to school here rather than in the west;
“They meet children and adults from other cultures and different countries. They learn new languages. The children they hang around with have different hair colours, eye colour and skin colour but they never mention anything about it, for them it’s nothing strange, everyone is totally equal. This is the biggest and most amazing thing is that they learn new languages and about other cultures”.
“It is amazing that there is an option for this school on such a small island, you don’t always have time to teach them, it really is good to have the option of sending them to school”.
They also told us how their kids love to be with their friends that they meet from all over the world. But what are the advantages and disadvantages?
“Unfortunaely when they turn twelve there are no options here on Koh Phangan. You could homeschool or send them to Samui which is not ideal. Although there are many options on Samui. If there was a school for the older children then maybe more people would come but at the moment there is no option.
There are lots more opportunities in Samui and a lot of kids there! For the Thai schools you have to speak Thai and do a test but some children may struggle with speaking Thai and also there may be struggles with fitting in with the culture there”.
Ann runs her own business which is hard work but does have some benefits in terms of bringing up her children here on Koh Phangan,
“You can’t come here and think you don’t have to put effort into running a business, but I have a bit more time for my children. They can be right there, going to the beach and doing something fun is now much closer. I couldn’t take my children to work in Sweden like I do here, they are always around”.
“The children do have more freedom, and it is more easy this way. Although this could end up being good or bad, we still don’t know yet. Some people complain that the children have too much freedom but we will know in the future if this has had any negative effect. Hopefully it will be positive as they are outdoors all the time”.
One of the benefits of bringing your children up here is that (in Ann’s case) they have had experience from bigger cities and cultures that are different to Thailand but also experience from Thai and Asian culture. They observe the adults running businesses and doing all sorts of different work.
“They see you can live differently, especially the slightly older ones. Even if you’re working hard you can still have a different life, that you can do what you want. You can see them already thinking about what they want to do. nothing is strange for them, which is sometimes a bit scary but the kids are fine with everything".