When you are planning a move overseas the list of things to organise can seem frighteningly long, and when you’re moving abroad as a family there’s even more to consider. One of the first things families intending to emigrate have to consider is what education option would best suit their expat children, but making the right choice can be tough.
To help make the decision that little bit easier we’ve taken a look at the pros of the three most common overseas-education options: local schools, international schools and homeschooling.
Local Schools for Expat Children
The majority of local schools conduct their teachings in the local language (although English may be taught as a second language). For children who don’t speak the language of their host nation attending a local school can be difficult at first, and they may be put in a lower ability group until they can communicate effectively. For many expat parents this is a huge drawback, but if your move abroad is of a permanent or semi-permanent nature the pros of sending your children to a local school may outweigh the cons.
~ As a rule, children pick up languages more easily than adults and generally the younger the child the more quickly they learn. Children of pre or primary school age may learn to speak the language of their host nation within just a few months of attending a local school.
~ Many expat families have advised that the best way to settle into a new environment is to become completely immersed in it. By sending your child to a local school you will be encouraging them to make friends from the same area and helping them to view their host nation in the same way as local children.
~ Although cost isn’t usually the motivating factor behind parents settling on an education option for their child, it’s a fact that international schools cost substantially more to attend than local ones. In the vast majority of nations local schooling is free until the child reaches tertiary (or post-secondary) education.
~ However, there is one con relating to local schools which parents will need to seriously consider. Some academic qualifications gained overseas may not be transferable, meaning that children could struggle when it comes to gaining admission to colleges/universities in another nation.
International Schools for Expat Children
While international schooling may be one of the more costly education options, it is becoming an increasingly popular choice among expat families. The number of international schools is on the up in nations like the US, Canada, Spain and France, meaning there is usually one a reasonable distance away no matter where you settle. But there are many pros to internationals schools beyond their availability.
~ In an international school children are able to grow up in one of the world’s most culturally diverse environments, benefiting from mixing with a range of global lifestyles.
~ The majority of international schools follow a globally-recognised curriculum, like the International Baccalaureate. As the IB model is accepted across the world the child has the option of being able to continue their education in a huge choice of other countries.
~ Many international schools place a stronger emphasis on extracurricular activities than mainstream schools. As the aim of international schools is all-round development, children are not only encouraged to learn academically but socially and creatively.
Homeschooling Expat Children
If your stay overseas is for a limited time period you may wish to avoid the upheaval involved in enrolling your child in a new school. If that’s the case, homeschooling could be a good route to go down. While it certainly isn’t for everybody and obviously requires a significant commitment from the parent/parents, there are many positives to homeschooling.
~ Although homeschooled children usually follow a preapproved curriculum, there is typically more educational freedom involved in this form of education. How and where subjects are taught are largely up to the parent, and rather than having to stick rigidly to traditional school hours, work can be done according to the schedule which most fits in with family life.
~ Bullying is one of the aspects of mainstream education which parents and children find most difficult to deal with. In a home-school environment the risk of bullying is eliminated.
~ Furthermore, the vast majority of homeschooling advocates have argued that it helps to build strong family ties.
As homeschooling a child is a full-time job, families have to consider whether they are in a financial situation where they can afford to live on one wage. That being said, homeschooling can actually save money as it eliminates the need to buy school uniforms, PE kits etc and means parents don’t have to pay out for transport costs, school trips and lunches.
Hopefully this brief look at the pros of the most popular education options for expat children has given your family a good starting point to work from. For further information regarding education in specific countries check out the education sections in these country guides.
This post was provided by The Expat Hub, a top online stop for expatriate advice, support and information.
Has your family ever lived abroad? Which school option did you choose for your expat children? Have you ever considered going abroad?