Relocating your family to another country is a thrilling experience, but it comes with challenges. Among them is finding a new school for your children.
Apart from location and budget concerns, you naturally want a school where your kids can settle well and develop their abilities. It’s a big decision to make, which is why it’s normal as a new expat parent to feel a little overwhelmed. To make things easier for you, here are four essential factors to consider when choosing a school in another country:
Take note of the school’s application process and academic calendar. Prepare all the necessary paperwork in advance to prevent any issues that can hinder your child from securing his or her slot. Schools usually request official report cards and sometimes, even an entrance exam.
Deadlines are very important, especially if you’re moving in the middle of the school year. Popular private and international elementary schools usually have waiting lists, which means your child won’t be able to enter mid-way through the academic year. Waiting lists can take time, so if possible, try to file applications at least a year before you move.
2. Enrollment Fees
Relocating to a new country is by no means easy or cheap. It requires adjusting your budget and spending behavior. That’s why for many expat families, the cost is the determining factor when choosing schools.
In countries that offer free education, you can probably enjoy a little more flexibility. If you’re lucky, your employer may also cover your child’s education, but it all depends on your contract. When doing research, take note of the overall cost per year, including miscellaneous fees and consider this when setting your budget. Not all online information may be updated, so don’t be shy to contact the school for a full-tuition breakdown.
Your next priority should be the school’s curriculum. Look at the curriculum of your child’s previous school. Naturally, you want your child’s learning progression to evolve. You don’t want him to waste an entire year either learning things he already knows or struggling to be in the same level as his classmates.
Assess if the school has a strong program of core academic subjects, including math, science, language, history, and arts. Do they offer advanced and honors courses for gifted students? If your children aren’t native speakers, ensure that there is an effective language learning program in place.
The range of extra-curricular activities should also be an important consideration. Sports and after-school activities can help your kids make new friends and make adjusting to a new environment a lot easier.
4. Culture and values
Know the school’s general class sizes and student demographics. Small class sizes mean your child gets more one-on-one attention, although this may translate to higher tuition fees.
Does the school embrace diversity? A diverse student population will expose your child to different cultures at an early age. It also increases their chance of making friends from their native home.
You also want to select a school that aligns with the values you want your child to develop. Is the school neat and well-kept? Are the students disciplined? Find a school that reflects the kind of person you want your child to be.
A school is a child’s second home. While budget, timelines, and curriculum are important determining factors, your decision will still largely depend on your child’s needs and goals. A great school makes learning fun and meaningful to each child, regardless of his or her race, abilities, and interests.