Almost Fearless

Cole Starts Bilingual Kindergarten in Mexico

I was convinced for the first three years of Cole’s life that I would homeschool him. I read books on unschooling, I followed the message boards, I was on board. Then Cole changed. He became so social and desperate for time with other kids that it became a daily conversation.


“Where are the kids?” he’d ask.

So we went to look for them. On the weekends we could take him to the beach or the mall where the families tended to be. During the week, after about 8 PM the kids come out to the park near our house and the little ones ride their bikes until about 10 PM when magically, without a word, everyone just disperses. At the end of those evenings, Cole often cried, he wanted to play more. He made one friend, Alexander, and they would ride their bikes like madmen around the plaza, past the teenagers playing soccer, around the moms gossiping, darting around the yippy dog that the old man brought with him every night.


One night, after a few days of not seeing Alexander, we approached the park and there he was. The boy. Alexander. Cole and the boy saw each other and started running.

“Boy!” Cole shouted.

“Niño!” Alexander yelled back.

They ran into each others arms, well, more like smacked right into each other, then fell to the ground hugging.

Holy crap, this kid needs friends.

So this week, we enrolled him in Kindergarten (they start at 3 years old here) at a bilingual private school so there’s a smoother transition. (Most colegios in Mexico are entirely in Spanish and often don’t have English speaking staff — eventually we will do that, but for these first few months we wanted a little English buffer for him).

Of course we got him a new backpack.


Which he asks to wear around the house too. He loves everything about school. The kids, the teachers, the drawing, the playing, the painting, saying things in Spanish, getting a new spiderman toothbrush to use at school, and of course, the most amazing part, the Monsters University shoes we got him even though we try to avoid branded clothing (nearly impossible these days) but he thinks they are like robots for his feet and confided in Drew that they could make him fly.

Okay fine, kid, you get the Disney plastic shoes instead of the stylish kicks your mother picked out. I never really had a chance.


On the first day of school he was so happy. He brought his backpack up to the classroom and when the little girl next to him put hers against the wall, he did too. The teacher asked, “Are you happy?” and after a beat he said, “Yes”.


He was so ready. If he one day decides he doesn’t like school and wants to homeschool, I will be here. Until then, we’re just eating up his joy.

Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”



  • Yay! Go Cole! What a milestone. I can feel his joy leap off the screen. Throughout the whole schooling debate you have shared here with us, you always maintained doing what was best for each child. Sounds like you’ve done just that. Well done!

  • IT’s a beautiful thing to see a child like a sponge who just wants to soak up everything and learn and have new experiences. I sure am envious of his ability to be bilingual at such an early age. Thanks for sharing your ‘child of the world’ with us:)

  • This made me teary…for many reasons, but also because of the experience he is going to have. I started a bilingual private school when I was a bit older after my family moved to Dom. Rep. and it was both exciting and terrifying. The gift of language is one of the greatest gifts you can give a child, I am so very happy for all of you! FELICIDADES Cole! Y mucha suerte!!

  • Dek and Cole would be a hoot together. Dek has “his boys” that he loves to see and play with. His first day of preschool last year he announced to me that all of them were “his boys.” He NEEDS other kids around him. He is a social bee. Early on, like you, I realized he needed to be surrounded by other people his own age. Even when we travel now I search out kids. He gets lonesome for a few people his size he can run around with. Mom just isn’t that fun 🙂

  • Cole’s smiles are clear evidence you have made a fine choice. After following you for a couple of years, Christine, it’s obvious your first choice is always in the best interests of your children. Good mama!

  • oh my gawd this brought a little tear in each eye!!!….I am happy that you’re listening to your child and doing what’s best for him.

  • Love the photos. Oh to be 3 again… Errrrm. Maybe not. But you know what I mean. Expats here in Saigon face a similar dilemma because private schools cost into the thousands. As they progress, I’m talking almost as much as college back home. It’s an indicator between the haves and have nots. But I haven’t heard of a single foreigner putting their kid into public Vietnamese school. I don’t even know if that’s allowed here!

  • I think you did well. It’s really difficult to adjust your point of view on how things should be. Of Course Cole’s well being is the most important thing, but a lot of parents still choose to follow their own path rather than really listening to what the child needs. So yeah, pretty awesome thing you did!

  • Ah, he’s the cutest! You’re definitely doing the right thing and he looks so happy! I always imagine I will home-school my kids (when I have them!) as I’ve not much faith in the school systems I’ve come across but, then, there’s the social side of school which is so important and which home-schooling can’t provide. Well done on the great parenting and listening to what Cole needs!

  • First off, he is so handsome. And look at that smile! Second, our friend here in Phuket were unschooling and their daughter decided she was bored and wanted to be in school so she went back. Do what is right for your family! You are raising global citizens no matter what.

E-Commerce powered by UltraCart