Traveling abroad is an adventurous time for the whole family when it is planned correctly. If you have made the decision to live abroad even more planning is required; your child’s education being one of the most important and challenging issues you will face.
Being educated overseas will be a completely different experience for your child than schooling in the United States. When living abroad, your child will be exposed to many different cultures, languages, and methods of teaching that they would not experience had they remained on American soil.
While diversity and culture are certainly wonderful things, there are some serious considerations before deciding upon the best school for your child.
Here are a few tips:
Researching schools is best begun by mapping out which educational qualities are most important for you and your family.
Which do you prefer as the primary language? Will you be staying overseas for the long or short-term? Are you looking for a similar curriculum to the one your child is accustomed to, or do you plan to fully immerse them into the local environment?
Once you know which qualities are most important, the internet can help you. Visit places like an expat forum to connect with other families also traveling abroad. Here you can find answers to many of the questions you’re sure to have.
What to look out for
Along with the list of educational qualities you need to match, you should also look for things like accreditation, emphasis on learning additional languages, access to technology, extracurricular programs, and the school’s values and reputation as a whole.
If you get the chance to visit a school before deciding, do so! Take a look around. Do the students seem happy? Are teachers interacting with kids outside of the classroom? Keep your eyes and ears open as you walk around the school grounds; you should be able to get an accurate feel for the school as you do so.
As when on American soil, there will be many educational avenues to consider when abroad.
Local schools can be an excellent choice for those relocating more permanently. Most local schools conduct their classes in the local language. For children that do not speak the language, that can be a major setback. For those seeking immersion within a new environment, the benefits of attending a local school will outweigh its initial challenges. Keep in mind, however, that some qualifications gained at local schools might not be recognized elsewhere when it comes to gaining entry to colleges and universities.
For the reasons outlined above international schools are a very popular choice among expat families. A tremendous benefit when attending an international school is that they follow an internationally recognized curriculum. That means that if your child should attend another such school elsewhere, they would be studying the same curriculum as they had in the establishment they previously attended. Diplomas earned in such schools are also recognized by colleges and universities around the globe.
American international schools follow an American curriculum. Stamford American’s AERO and Common Core Plus framework, is an excellent program structured to prepare children for ultimate academic success through their International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.
Homeschooling is another option for families that are not planning to stay overseas for an extended period. Taking on your child’s educational needs while away from home can help ease the upheaval of switching from school to school in a short period of time.
Traveling abroad is certainly exciting, and with proper planning for both your stay overseas and your travel there, it is sure to be a wonderful chapter in your family’s lives. While your schooling options may seem overwhelming, keep in mind that your best barometer is your child. Wherever they are happiest, they will learn best.