Unlike many expats I am settled in one location. But I do watch a lot of my expat friends as they get adjusted to their new life in their host country for a while… then get ready to move on again. It’s interesting reading their blog posts or chatting with them about the different concerns or issues they have as they move from place to place–what will the healthcare situation be like, will they be able to find a gym to continue their training, what kind of house or apartment will they find, and so on. Of course, if they have children, finding the right school is one of their primary concerns.
Last week I wrote a post about the Yew Chung International School of Beijing and about how much I loved the idea of the world classroom programme. I know there are a lot of things to consider when choosing a school–especially if that education will be transferable to the next school, applicable to the child’s world, and ultimately provide a happy, healthy learning environment for the child.
The book I’m working on doesn’t cover specific schools but it does cover issues expats face and if you have any experiences you’d like to share with regards to finding the right school, please do!
From my research into this subject, I so far have found several points that parents will look for in an international school:
1. Location is very important
Where will the school be in relation to your work and home?
2. What services does the school offer?
School Services are important in ways I never even considered–for example, transportation to and from school and to and from field trips will not be the same or handled the same way in every country.
3. Parent and student support
As with any school in the world, school support programmes are very important, as these are the places students will go to for advice on universities and careers, where students who need additional care can find it, and where parents can learn more about the school or find ways of being involved.
4. What curriculum does the school follow?
Increasingly the International Baccalaureate is becoming a favourite, but is it right for your child? The IB is normally taught over two years and is recognized and respected around the world by leading universities as an academically challenging and balanced programme of education. But consider where your children would like to go to university–does that university support the IB?
Also check, what is the academic record of the school? What are their university acceptance rates like? Which universities do they have affiliations with?
5. What languages are on offer?
Many times expat parents would like their child to learn the local language, but I recall reading on one blog that the parent was not at all interested in that as their child was only going to be in the school for a year, and they would much rather the child focused on a language more relevant to their future.
That being said, many international schools throughout various countries offer great bi-lingual and bi-cultural programmes in their curriculum, and this provides an amazing opportunity for students to learn a second language in the country of the language. The YCIS Chinese programme is one example of this.
6. All the rest…!
Does the school offer extra curricular activities, travel opportunities, field trips to local sites? What else makes this school stand out from the others? YCIS, for example, offers language, art, sport, leadership, culture and values, travel, cultural immersion opportunities and overseas travel programmes.
Are there other children from your home country there? Is this something you want or not? What are the hours of the school day? What is the work load like and how much homework will the chidren bring home? What days fo the week will children be at school?
So many things to think about! There are some great books and guides on the subject but there’s nothng like first hand experience. Talk to others who have their children at local schools for advice and if you have your own tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!
This space on the American Resident was paid for by The Yew Chung International School of Shanghai, but please do leave a comment about your experiences as a parent looking for education for your child as you move to a new location, as I said before, I am seeking personal experiences!