Wednesday 5 May 2021

How to find the right school abroad for your expat family

Kids in school sitting at their desks listening to a professorFeatured image

One of the essential responsibilities for families relocating to another country is learning how to navigate a foreign school system. Thorough research is imperative if you want to select a high-quality school where your child can thrive. This article will give you helpful information on how to find the right school abroad for your expat family.

International or local school?

Searching for the right school abroad usually means choosing between a local or international institution. When making the decision, you should consider:

  • The individual needs and wants of your child

  • How long you plan to stay in a foreign country

  • The quality of the education system

  • Enrollment standards and requirements

  • Extracurricular activities such as sports, theatre, etc.

A teacher teaching kids geography with the help of a globe

Caption: There are advantages and downsides to both local and international schools.

The pros of local schools

If you’re going to live abroad for more than two years (or even permanently), sending your child to a local school is a good choice, especially if they are young. Kids attending local schools can immerse themselves in the local language and culture more quickly than those attending international schools. This can help them adapt faster and become a part of the community and environment.

Depending on the country you’re relocating to, local schools are usually more cost-effective, and sometimes they are even free.

The cons of local schools

If you opt for a local school, there is a risk of your child feeling like an outsider, especially if they are one of the few international students (or even the only one). If your child feels like an outcast, this can prevent them from enjoying a healthy social life. Some children are more sensitive to this than others, and they may struggle with anxiety.

If the language barrier seems to be a problem, the child will not use their full potential, and they probably won’t have a good overall experience. Furthermore, if you don’t know the local language, you won’t be able to help with homework.

The pros of international schools

International schools are ideal for expat children. They allow them to socialize and encourage them to make friends with other kids going through a similar experience. Children usually continue with the curriculum that was used back home, which minimizes the adaption period. You can even try to find an international school that teaches in your native language.

International schools are excellent for children whose families relocate frequently. For example, a family who relocates every few years may consider an American international school because they are available globally. Therefore, the transfer from school to school will be more effortless.

The cons of international schools

If you enroll your child in an international school, they may not be exposed to the new culture and language as much as they would be otherwise. As a result, they may not get the benefits of a fully immersive cultural experience. Even though they might feel local in school, they will still feel like a foreigner in the community.

International schools are usually located in the capital or big cities. Suppose you’re used to living in NYC or any other metropolitan city, and now you’re moving to a more remote location. In that case, the relocation process won’t not be too hard with the help of Movage Moving NYC, but your choice of international schools might be limited (or non-existent) in a small town.

Keep in mind that international schools are usually a costly option, no matter the country. Families with multiple children may not have the budget to meet those costs.

A brother and sister with books on their heads

Caption: If you want to find the right school abroad, it’s important to consider various factors before making a decision.

More factors to consider in order to find the right school abroad

Choosing the right school abroad is always a personal decision. You need to consider the wants and needs of your child, your family’s abilities, and other factors.

The country’s school system

Be sure to thoroughly research the school system and check the following:

  • Which schools are known for high-quality education?

  • What are the language requirements and general enrolment requirements?

  • Can your child enroll in a school year appropriate for their age?

Your child’s age

Younger children are known to be more adaptable, and they are able to absorb new languages easily. On the other hand, older children may be more connected to the friends and more invested in the life they have left behind. That makes it harder for them to adjust to a new community.

Even though every child is a story for themselves, younger kids usually benefit from a local school more while older students thrive in an international institution.

Location and school hours

The location, distance, commute time, transportation options, and school hours are all important factors to consider. Schools in some countries close for a few hours during lunchtime, so be prepared to pick up your kids or find someone who will do that for you.

Tasks to complete before moving abroad

When you find the right school abroad for your expat family, you’ll also need to take care of a list of things to ensure a smooth relocation. There are many important tasks you must complete before your international move. Don’t forget to:

  • Research the new country’s rules and regulations - visas, permits, tax laws, etc.

  • Rethink your finances - check the living costs and ensure your family is not left out of pocket

  • Think about healthcare for your family - will you choose local healthcare, or will you pay private health insurance?

  • Sort out your living situation - will you rent or buy a home?

  • Prepare the necessary documents for the whole family

  • Hire an international moving company and choose a set of services

  • Declutter your home and pack your belongings methodically, in a timely-manner

  • Make a travel plan - figure out the transportation options that can take you from the airport to your new home

  • Prepare your child for the move - talk to them about everything they can expect and discuss the advantages of your relocation

  • Cancel any subscriptions and forward your mail

A family bonding after finding the right school abroad

Caption: When moving abroad, it’s essential to prepare your child for the upcoming changes.

Final thoughts

If you want to find the right school abroad for your expat family, you should think about your child’s future and what you wish for them. This comes with a unique set of challenges, but everything is much easier when you have a specific plan and goals. Good luck with your relocation!

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