5 Great Tips When Choosing Schools for Expat Children

by David Tompkins

Tips for parents when choosing schools for expat children

Moving overseas with children is always a challenge. It is especially true when you already having children who are going to school. One of the biggest questions you will have to ponder is about their schools overseas. There are several ways to go about this. Some parents choose to homeschool their expat children due to the high cost of international schools.

Expat parents can often find other expat families going for the same approach and they can learn the ropes of it. Homeschooling is also another way to spend time with your kids and explore the new culture overseas.

If you’re thinking of immersing your children in the local culture then enrolling your child in a local school is the best idea. But do your research before you make the move. Here are five tips for choosing schools for expat children.

1. Picking the right school for expat children

choosing schools for expat children

As mentioned above, picking the right school required thorough research from your end. Decide if you want to enroll your children in an international school or a local school. If you have the budget, then enrolling them in an international school is the best idea.

These schools follow the same syllabus as your home country and children can easily adapt to a similar environment. Furthermore, they’re much likely to find other kids with a similar background and it can make them easier to relate and adapt.

However, if you choose to send them to a local school, you have to understand the consequences of it. Firstly, children will have to pick up the local language and unless English is not widely spoken, they might have a tough time adapting to their new environment.  In some cases, children are often bullied for being different. Most importantly, there will be a stark difference in the syllabus.

Hence, it is important to plan ahead, whether giving them classes to help them pick up the language, sending them to an international school, or taking the responsibility of homeschooling or even online homeschooling.

2. Don’t worry too much about their grades

expat childrenChildren need more time to settle in. If you have moved them to a new school abroad, give them space when it comes to learning new things in school. At least for the first 6 months, forget about their grades and help them evolve and navigate their new surrounding. Ensure they are making friends and are not feeling overwhelmed. Let them know there’s plenty of time to catch up. Your overseas school may provide some extra help and tutors may be available.

Moreover, you need to tailor your approach according to your children’s age. If they’re below the primary age, then they should solely focus on settling in and making friends. If you have teenagers, find out where they need help in their curriculum and not having too much on their plate. Most importantly, expat children should feel at home during the transition.

3. After school activities mean new friends

After school activitiesFind out what your child’s hobbies are and enroll them in extracurricular activities. Whey they get to see similar faces and share a similar passion, they build a strong bond. It also helps children to relax and do what they like with their friends. They don’t have to struggle with cultural differences, language barriers, and school work. By creating an outlet, be it sports, music, or art, you are helping your expat children build confidence and friendships in a new environment.

4. Ask them about their day

It is important for expat parents to be in constant communication with their children. Make it a habit to ask them about how their day was after school. But don’t bug them the moment they enter the home or your car. Expat children are already exhausted navigating their day, so give them a couple of hours to wind down before talking to them about their day. Let them express how they felt about the language barriers, learning new skills,  culture, and customs.

choosing school for expat childrenAdditionally, look into building a support group for your children. Talking to other expat children who are older can help them decipher what they’re going through.

5. Make it a fun experience

Finally, it’s important to take it easy. After they’re only children and there’s no need to put so much pressure on them. If they’ve made new friends in school or social life, invite them for a slumber party or a fun outdoor party to solidify the growing friendship.

Going to a new school is not easy, so help them to make their transition easier. Buy them some fun school supplies, hear them out, and respect their feelings. It will definitely get easier over time.

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