Sabbatical year

Kids and Sabbatical Year

kids at omsOne of our most constant questions through this process has been, “How will this affect our kids?”

We think this year can be an extremely formative time for our kids, and one that they’ll look back on fondly. We know they’re young and won’t remember it all later – particularly Hannah. But we’ve also talked to several people who either lived in a foreign country for a while as children or have taken their kids abroad for a significant time, and they’ve all said they think this will be a great gift to our kids, and that it may be at the perfect timing. They’re at very formative ages, will be able to pick up the language quickly, and can experience this as a great adventure.

We’re particularly excited for our kids (and ourselves) to see another culture and realize that not everyone thinks and does things the same way. We love a lot of things about American culture. But there’s also plenty we don’t love, or don’t even realize isn’t the only way. We want our kids to see that the American way isn’t the only way from an early age.


We had initially planned to home-school while we were away, but several people have convinced us that it will be better to let our kids be in the public school system in Spain. That will give them the best opportunities to really be immersed in the Spanish culture and language, and to meet new friends.

The Spanish school system is about on par with the American one, and we expect the kids to learn just as much in this year as they would at home. If they learn slightly less in any areas, we think that will be more than made-up for by learning a new language.

Schools typically run from about 9-1, followed by a break, then back from about 3-5. And during September, they only keep the morning hours, which will be a nice way to ease into it. Ella, Abigail, and Hunter will all be in school — Ella in 1st grade, the twins in pre-school. Hannah will most likely stay home with us.

Missing Home

Without a doubt, the hardest thing about deciding to do this was knowing that we’ll be taking our kids away from family for a year. They usually see grandparents at least 3 days per week. We’ve loved how close our kids are to their grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. That’s one of the reasons we’ve always planned to stay in Kentucky, and why we planned to make this only a one year journey when many people suggested we consider doing two years.

Fortunately, being away from family today is a lot different from what it would have been like 100, 50, or even 10 years ago. We plan to still be in regular contact by phone and Skype.

We know the kids will miss family, but we also know those relationships will always be special for them, and that this is only a year away. And we’re hoping that family might be able to visit. Emily’s mom already plans to come and be with us for a month. Friends who have moved far away from home have said they miss the multiple-times-per-week with grandparents, but that it has made special visits more special and more intense. And again, it’s only for a year. Most of the others we’ve talked to live across the country and see grandparents about once per year, each year. For us, we expect the kids to go back to seeing family much more regularly after a short time away.

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