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Extra Credit: Unorthodox Approaches to Apathetic Students

Dear Extra Credit:
Maria Glod's May 6 article on dual enrollment ["College-School Partnerships Offer Head Start on Higher Education"] made me think that you might enjoy learning about parents who have begun to think outside the box when it comes to educating their kids.
Our oldest son finished eighth grade last June in Prince William County. During that year, he began to have what we thought were indifferent or apathetic feelings about school. He started mentioning that he would love to study somewhere different than a regular high school. We took him at his word, and my husband researched study-abroad programs for students that age.
That search led us to a program that took 14-year-olds and allowed them to live with host families and study intensive Spanish. Our son lived for 25 weeks in two cities in Spain from September to April. He studied the language and culture and has been certified bilingual.
I can't begin to tell you how his self-confidence and maturity have soared. Many people thought we were crazy for sending away a boy that young to live with strangers, but my husband escorted him on both trips (he came home for winter break) so that he could have a point of reference and know the layout of the cities and home environment. It was probably one of the best opportunities that we will ever be able to give our child. He is most appreciative to have had it.
Suzanne Edwards Prince William County

Jay Mathews:

Thanks for the encouraging story of parents listening to their child and responding to the challenge. I think most of our kids are ready to learn more than we teach them.

Please send your questions, along with your name, e-mail or postal address and telephone number, to Extra Credit, The Washington Post, 526 King St., Suite 515, Alexandria, Va. 22314. Or e-mail

By Washington Post Editors  | May 28, 2009; 11:56 AM ET
Categories:  Extra Credit  | Tags:  study abroad  
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