Expat education options

November 2

Finding the right school overseas

An overview of the main types of expat education options available and how to choose the right one for your child.

Tips and advice on what to keep in mind when choosing a school abroad. Do you choose a local school or an international school? Home education or virtual school? How to find a school for your SEN child and more!

Sometimes parents put too much emphasis on trying to find a ‘good’ school. This is very hard to judge as a parent as it depends on the curriculum, the teachers and differs from class to class and from child to child, even within the same family. 

Each child is different; each country’s school system is different. Also, families differ in their requirements and wishes and even relocations vary greatly.

Make choices for your child and your family. Not necessarily the school ‘everyone else’ sends their children to.

What is more important is that your child is happy there; a happy child learns, regardless of the school’s reputation.

Please scroll down for the transcript

Expat Education Books

'Expat Education: An Expat's Guide to Choosing a School Overseas

An an absolute must-read if you’re moving overseas with children. Choosing the right school for your child is a complex decision based on many factors. ‘Expat Education’ explores these aspects to make the decision easier for you and shares how to make your child’s move into their new school, in a new country, a less stressful one.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a School Abroad - instant access eBook

An introduction to the considerations you need to take into account when planning your move overseas and your child’s education. Questions for yourself and a list of questions to ask your potential school.

More Resources and Links

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  • Visit ExpatChild.com for more free information about expat life!

1 to 1 Expat Espresso Chat

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[00:00:17.110]
Welcome aboard the Expatability Chat podcast, helping expat parents navigate the challenges of moving and living overseas. With Carole Hallett Mobbs, Expat Life Mentor and Consultant and founder of ExpatChild.com.

[00:00:23.850]
Hi, welcome back. Well, quite a long episode for you today because I want to dive into one of my favourite topics, how to choose a school overseas. Now, why is this my favourite topic? Well, I think because there's just so much to go into and it really points out to the individuality of every single child and every single family. So often I see parents just popping their child into the school that their friend's child went into, or their colleagues child went to. And while this may work for some, it doesn't always work for everyone.

[00:01:00.450]
And as I say, the other reason it's my favourite topic is because you actually have a lot of choices these days. So how did your parents choose the school that you went to? That's an odd way to start when we're talking about expat life. Maybe you were an expat kid and went to school overseas, or maybe you went to school in your hometown. Was there a choice of school?

[00:01:22.560]
If your children have already been in school, in your home country, how did you choose? Are you in a country where all the kids go to the nearest school, or do you have to go into some kind of lottery affair, similar to England? I grew up in a small town in a rural county in the U.K. There was one school. It was the only school for around 20 miles, no public transport. And that was the only option. It was not a good school. Just making it through was a case of survival rather than academia. Where I live in the U.K. now, there are schools everywhere. There's quite a lot of choice on the surface of it. You can choose single sex, state schools, grammar schools, independent schools, all sorts. I just had a quick look on Google Maps and there are about 20 schools within a seven mile radius of my home. And this isn't a huge city. I'm not in London.

[00:02:17.070]
So choosing a school was a bit alien to me. We moved overseas when my daughter was just five years old - a month after her fifth birthday. We moved in the November and she had to be in education from the September in England. We could have postponed her start date to the following January without breaking any English education laws. So our choice in the September of that year was straightforward; she could attend a school for a term, or we could keep her out of formal education until we moved.

[00:02:46.080]
As her nursery and preschool friends were all off to school, she wanted to join with them, naturally. So that was OK. She went to a tiny school in the next village for a few weeks, no major choice, and we knew that it was only for a very short time. It would have been a much more difficult decision if she had been older. Just too much choice. But all in all, a fairly simple matter. It's our home country.

[00:03:08.400]
Choosing the right school or other form of education overseas for your child is a whole other ball game, and possibly one of the most difficult decisions you'll make as a parent when relocating abroad. Or not. You may be moving somewhere similar to where I grew up, where there is no real choice. Or you may move to an expat hub where there are schools galore, especially if you can pay. The type of expat education you choose depends on so many criteria in this episode, I'm going to give you an overview of the main types of expat education options available and how to choose the right one for your child.

[00:03:44.880]
Now, as I say, even though this is one of my longer episodes, probably my longest, it is still a fairly generalised overview of all the options available, because, for example, even within the so-called generic international school system, there are tons and tons of variance. American school, British school, German school, French school, and then even within those lots of variations on a theme. So what I shall cover here are some comments on the following and tips on choosing the right option for your family and for your child.

[00:04:16.050]
So the options I'm going to look through today are local school: this is local to you, local as in language. International school. Lots of different types, as I said, American, French, British. Kindergarten or nursery or preschool, depending on what phrase you use. I'll probably use kindergarten throughout this because I like the word. Then is home-schooling, which is a choice made by many. But beware of legalities in the country you're moving to. You may opt for a boarding school, usually in your home country, or it could be anywhere else.

[00:04:48.720]
Special educational needs. Do a lot of research and be aware that many international schools aren't under any obligation to accept your child. And then something that's becoming more popular these days is a virtual or online school.

[00:05:04.740]
If possible, have a selection of schools to choose from or a selection of education options. Naturally, this won't always be possible because there just may not be any options and also there may be financial constraints. Some schools are really expensive.

[00:05:20.730]
So what to consider before you choose a school? Well, basically, we're back to the expat crystal ball again! You need to know how long you're going to stay in that country and where you'll be going after that. That's fine if you're on a set period of time in a certain country and you know you'll be moving home afterwards. But if you've listened or followed me before, you know that that doesn't always work. We thought we were going to be in Tokyo for four years and then move back to the U.K. So that's how I planned. In the end, we went straight from Tokyo to Berlin and straight from Berlin to South Africa. We didn't move back to the UK for another 12 years. So, yeah, you need a crystal ball. Failing that, just do your best planning possible.

[00:06:04.840]
Do you intend to stay permanently in that country or is it just for a fixed number of years? If you know that you'll be moving elsewhere in the future, do you know when or where yet?

[00:06:15.850]
So if you're moving for a fixed term and then moving on afterwards, choosing a school that will provide a continuity of education makes more sense. For example, if you'll be returning to your home country in a few years, it makes sense to choose a school running a curriculum that ties in with your home country system. For those who may well move to another country after that, something like the International Baccalaureate may be your best option. I need to add a caveat with almost every sentence here. This all depends on how old your child is. So if they're very young, you make one choice. But if they're a teenager, you make a different choice. But rather than add that in all the time, just take it as read.

[00:06:56.620]
Then look even further ahead. Do you hope your child will go to university? In which country? Take this into consideration when choosing a curriculum too. And yes, you do need to look a very long way ahead.

[00:07:09.970]
While most children tend to be resilient and adjust well to moving schools, a change of curriculum can prove challenging and may impact on their future success. So I would recommend picking a curriculum at the start of their schooling and trying to continue that as far as possible. Switching between, for example, the English curriculum and the International Baccalaureate can prove a little tricky for some children.

[00:07:35.430]
If you're moving permanently, a local school may be your best option. I mean, you're going to be living there forever, so it makes sense that they go and integrate properly in their new country. But again, this depends on the age of your child. More about this in a moment, but basically the younger the better, and this is especially important if they need to learn a new language.

[00:07:59.240]
So, as I mentioned, the age of your child... How old are they and how old will they be when you move again? Are you expecting them to set certain exams? The English GCSEs, for example? Timing is absolutely crucial when it heads towards exam year. Some schools start GCSE study three years ahead of the exams. Others start two years ahead. And many will not accept new pupils after this point, as we found to our detriment when we moved back to the UK. As a general rule, the younger your kids are, the more flexibility you have and the better able that they are to adapt to a school change. It's when they get to the teenage years that things become more difficult!

[00:08:41.420]
So are you moving to a country where a different languages spoken? Look into how to give your child a really good head start by learning the language before you go. Even if you choose an international school it's likely the majority of pupils will be locals, so some language skills will help your child fit in.

[00:09:00.740]
And special educational needs, as I mentioned just now, many people are shocked to discover that some countries have little to no SEN provision, and many, if not most international schools are not obliged to accept your child.

[00:09:15.290]
Home education is becoming very popular with many expat parents with young children. However, home schooling isn't always legal in some countries. I'll talk about that in brief in a moment. And virtual and online schooling is becoming extremely popular, especially this year as the world turns upside down.

[00:09:33.950]
So let's look a little deeper into the general options you may have available and factors you need to consider when looking into each alternative.

[00:09:42.260]
Local schools. Right, so you're moving to a new country permanently, or at least for the duration of your child's education. You're going to properly emigrate and settle there. So the obvious option is to enrol your child in a local school. That way they'll mix with the local kids and properly and fully integrate. Excellent choice. Perfect! Particularly if the language is the same as you already speak. However, if you're moving to a country where the language is different, please think a little harder. The aspirations of many parents override the needs of their children. You want a bilingual child because, well, why exactly? It's cool? That will provide them with better opportunities in the future? Okay, if you're moving there permanently, that makes sense. You need for them to be able to be properly fluent in the new language. So integration is vital - it's where you're going to be living. But if you're only going to be there for a few short years, is the pain worth it? Because there will be pain.

[00:10:44.840]
Yes, full immersion in a new language is the best way to become fluent. But think about what else is important in the school years; friendships, confidence, identity, so much more. And that is all an extra struggle for the new kid in school. And a struggle plus, infinity in an unknown language. Please, please don't simply drop your kid into a local school where a completely different language is spoken without giving them as much help as possible. Full language immersion is supremely hard work for both child and parent. Will you be able to converse with your child's teachers competently? If you don't speak the language, how are you going to make that work? And yes, your child will eventually become fluent, but they will also struggle really badly for some considerable time. And depending on the age of your child, this may impact them forever. Think about how you'd feel: young, insecure and placed in a school in a new country where you're expected to learn maths, history, science in a language that you do not know. You can't even ask anyone for help because you don't have the language. Even in their own language many children are too nervous to speak up in school. It really does astound me how many people think that this is an OK thing to do to a school age child with no previous language training at all. And it's not just language, it's cultures, it's goals, it's philosophies, its teaching methods; they're all going to be different. And all of which you will be expected to understand by the teachers and staff.

[00:12:19.250]
So, yes, I do agree that local education is great for some children; if they are very young, for example. If you're definitely going to be living in that country for good; if they have decent language skills before starting there. It is a bad move if you're only going to be there for a couple of years; if your child is older - particularly with teens, and if there are no language skills to start with. You are literally dropping them in the deep end and hoping that they'll float.

[00:12:47.570]
Parents selecting local schools should also be thinking about details as mundane as the calendar of the school year. Will they be able to coordinate their home leave, for example? Southern Hemisphere schools have long holidays over Christmas and work through the summer holidays that we recognise in the Northern Hemisphere. So in South Africa, the school year started in January and ended around November or October when exams were taking place. So they basically had almost all of October, all of November and all of December off school.

[00:13:20.060]
The rewards will be significant. Your children will become integrated fully and will hopefully have local friends to hang out with. Children truly learn new languages, cultures and curricula subjects and enjoy an unprecedented window into the customs of a different country. Just think very carefully about it and be prepared for a lot of hard work, a lot of struggle and yes, a lot of pain.

[00:13:45.020]
Moving on to international schools. This is the usual choice for expats. And just to reiterate what I say, expats, I don't mean immigrants. I mean people who are moving overseas for a few years.

[00:13:58.460]
An international school is a school that operates outside of the normal state system of any given country. These schools may teach an international curriculum such as the I.B., (the International Baccalaureate), and they'll have international values. They are broadly populated by multinational and multilingual pupils and staff, many of whom come and go during the school year as the expat life is, or can be, transient, to say the least.

[00:14:25.130]
Or the school may be affiliated with a certain country such, as the British International School or the American International School. These tend to teach the British or American curriculum together with lessons in the local language and possibly some local cultural specialities. The idea is that they will be learning roughly the same curriculum content at roughly the same ages as they would be in their home country. I say roughly for a reason, it doesn't always work like that. It's worth checking out what relationship each of these schools has with their native country. Some are very closely linked, but some have drifted rather further away, shall we say, and you may find that your child learns about the Romans three times, but always seems to miss the classes for basic percentages.

[00:15:13.040]
The British schools show the greatest diversity in this respect, with some of them teaching almost nothing of the current British curriculum. Which, to be fair, is actually constantly changing these days. To keep as close as possible to the original idea, look for schools that are members of COBIS that stands for the Council of British International Schools. Many British international schools apply for membership, but only a very few of the best are granted status.

[00:15:40.640]
The idea is, of course, that for those children who are on the move around the globe, international schools provide a form of stability. Their values and teaching will be similar wherever you are in the world. And in theory, it's easier to transition from one international school to another than it is to go through a wide range of local education.

[00:15:59.450]
It's a lovely idea, but it really doesn't work like that. Due to the growing variety of international schools, many of which now accept local as well as international students, it really doesn't always work out like that. You have to choose very carefully if this is the future of education that you're settling into. International schools were originally founded to serve an expat population. Many of the earliest international schools are founded as a result of a foreign State Department or military presence in a country. Often the international schools are only located in the main cities. So if you're moving anywhere other than that, you may find your choices are limited.

[00:16:39.590]
One main benefit of an international school is their general acceptance of expat children and the multicultural diversity your child will enjoy there. Looking at the curriculum, as I said just now, if you'll be moving elsewhere in the future, select a school that provides a good continuity of education. So if you're going to return to your home country, it makes sense to choose a school running a curriculum that ties in with your home country system. Or if you're really not sure, a school teaching the International Baccalaureate may be the best option.

[00:17:13.000]
When it comes to friendships within the school pupils, this can be quite country and culture dependent. Some international schools have a very high number of local pupils. Their parents often consider it an elite system, an elite school, and sometimes this can mean an exclusion of actual international pupils. Now, that's not an exclusion by the school, it's an exclusion by other pupils, by language. It's bullying basically. Something that we experienced more than once - "Oh, you can't join us. You're not clever enough to speak our language."

[00:17:47.380]
I really wish I was joking. It may be that English is the rule of the school, that everything has to be spoken in English in that school. But let's be honest, when a bunch of kids gets together, all of the same nationality, they're all going to speak their own language.

[00:18:03.520]
International schools may have a rapid turnover of pupils depending on where they are, particularly in expat hubs. It's less so in other countries. But it means that making and keeping friends can be difficult as they will move away.

[00:18:17.770]
Now, there's another subsection, if you like, of international schools, and these are local international or bilingual schools. This is the largest and fastest growing of the international school types. But it depends where you're located. They're not everywhere. They could be classed as local schools serving a local populace, yet they also encourage international students. Their curriculum tends towards being broadly similar to the host country, but may be heavily modified to include half or more subjects delivered in English. These schools, despite the English language in many lessons, are considered immersive in nature when it comes to language. The overall language, culture and format will be that of the host country. These could be absolutely ideal if you're looking for a high level of local language skills, but you're not going to be there long enough for a genuinely local school to be an option for you. This may be a better choice for older children.

[00:19:14.190]
Home schooling is something that many expats do, particularly when they have very young children, and especially if they're going to be travelling. You may be considering home education for your child. And there is a ton of information, advice and ideas on home schooling online, which you're probably very aware of, so I'm not going to delve deeply into this topic here. What I do want to point out is home education is actually illegal in quite a few countries. I know it surprised me too! Some, and only some, of the places where home education is illegal: Germany, the Netherlands, Costa Rica and Cyprus. There are a lot more. So check out the details yourself before you go. Don't make assumptions!

[00:19:58.740]
Something in between going to school and being home schooled is an online or virtual school, and this option has skyrocketed this year. All schools had to take on at least a period of online schooling during lockdown. Many parents and children have found it to be a perfect set up for their family and are continuing the online schooling model. For expats, online schools could be a lifesaver for many reasons. For example, you've identified the perfect international school for your child, but you're 180th on the waiting list and the first day of school is just around the corner. Or you may have been offered the promotion of a lifetime. The only slight hitch is that you and your family need to move overseas next month. More commonly, you may be relocating in the middle of a school year, or relocating for a short term assignment, or both.

[00:20:50.040]
Bouncing around between schools isn't really great for children. It's not a problem, but being the new kid in school every year or every two years is very difficult for them. And sadly, something that's becoming more common over the latter years - your child is so anxious about attending school, perhaps due to shyness, maybe bullying or being uprooted from their regular routines that they're acting up in class or refusing to go to school altogether. A virtual school - an online school brings the entire school experience; teachers, curriculum, learning materials and classmates to your family wherever you are in the world. Many online schools are fully accredited for serving students around the globe and can take your child's education right the way through to 18, regardless of where you're located.

[00:21:39.270]
Right on to boarding schools. Now, this is a divisive topic. Lots of parents recoil at the thought of boarding school. The words they use show the way that they think. "Sending your kids away". I had somebody tell me very recently that they were actually put off looking at my site, or working with me, simply because there was an article about a boarding school on my home page. In her mind, people only moved overseas for one of two reasons. They're either young and currently childfree or they're emigrating for a better life and more time with their young kids.

[00:22:14.080]
Of course, we know people move overseas for lots of different reasons, and I can see both sides. I can see how this would be a topic that makes you go, "oh, my God, no, that's so awful". And I also know that many, many kids are having an absolute ball in boarding school and it's often the making of them.

[00:22:31.740]
Look at it from this point of view, if you're moving around a lot from country to country every two, three, four years, your child has to be the new kid in school every couple of years, missing vital lessons, never learning the basics of maths, for example, due to midterm moves and different curriculum arrangements. Never fully settling in, never making their best friend. Or perhaps the schools in your host country don't fit the needs of your child.

[00:22:58.290]
More and more expats and international families are looking for boarding schools for their children. Regardless of the reason choosing a boarding school for your expat child is a long process. You need to start looking for the right school at the very least 18 months ahead of when you want them to start there. There may be cut off dates for registration and selection exams to sit. So do plan a very long way ahead. I can only focus on UK schools here, but basic criteria remains the same regardless of the country that they're in.

[00:23:29.640]
The key point to look for when researching boarding schools, as an international parent, is to ensure that they provide full boarding. This is becoming harder to find as the schools attempt to cater to more local pupils. A full boarding school is a seven day a week school. Weekends are spent at the school. Finding a true full boarding school is tricky, though, and many schools offer full boarding, but in reality, there may not be that many kids who are actually staying in the school at the weekend.

[00:23:59.790]
Also, as an overseas parent, you must have a UK based guardian. It's a legal requirement. If you're very lucky, you will have a reliable family member or a trusted friend who can be the legal guardian for you. Or you can employ a registered guardian through an agency. Other countries may have different rules so do check for yourself. A UK based guardian is someone that the kid can go to for weekends on occasion; who is there to help out if there are doctor's appointments, dentist appointments or god forbid, a hospital trip.

[00:24:36.030]
Please do get in touch with me if you'd like to know more about finding the right UK boarding school for your child. There's way too much information to go into here.

[00:24:45.750]
Now, with special educational needs, it's hard enough getting support for children these days in our home countries. It can often be even more challenging when moving overseas. And as I mentioned a couple of times before, you also need to know that international schools or, for example, any school that you have to pay for, are under no obligation to accept children with additional needs.

[00:25:10.440]
Find out what the laws are in your new country regarding schools admitting children with learning disabilities or special needs. If your school is privately funded, they often don't need to follow the same admission laws as public schools. So do make sure to research very deeply; you don't want to be caught out. It is also important to research not just the laws, but the schools you're considering to see if there have been any issues related to admissions or support of children in the past. Thankfully, in today's world, Google is a great tool to use in this case.

[00:25:44.160]
When applying to schools, please be upfront about your child's needs. Not only is this required when applying to most schools, it is essential to let them know what your child's needs are so that they can plan ahead and in some cases arrange for necessary resources in advance. Just because the school says on its website that it accepts children with special educational needs, it doesn't mean a) that they will and b) that they are able to accommodate your child's needs. Contact the schools as soon as possible. Speak to the person in charge of admissions and special educational needs. Find out how their support is delivered. Ask how many special needs staff are available and explore their qualifications and experience. Keep pushing for the answers you need and make sure you get an admissions acceptance in writing.

[00:26:36.150]
So onto easier choice now, kindergarten! Children under the age of five can adapt to new environments much more easily than older children. Introducing your child to a preschool, a kindergarten at an early age gives them a chance to enter the local education system within your new country seamlessly.

[00:26:54.570]
Most kindergartens are monolingual, in the language of that country. In these early formative years, enrolling your little one into a local, monolingual nursery can be hugely beneficial for their language skills. They get great immersion at this age - they just want to play, they don't have the self-consciousness that older children have and they will acquire the language quickly and easily. However, if you don't speak the language, there may be problems, understanding the kindergarten staff, but I'm sure you'll work through that.

[00:27:25.200]
Some countries have bilingual nurseries and some have international nurseries, but this is really only focused on the big expat hubs. And they can also be very heavily oversubscribed.

[00:27:37.170]
In many countries, children don't start formal or compulsory education until they are six or seven years old. So for a five or six year old moving to a country like this from the UK, that can be a huge mental step back for them and can be rather confusing. They may have felt grown up because they may have started big school already and then in their mind, they go back into nursery. So try to expect this and work around it somehow.

[00:28:03.110]
Now, how do you research for your new school overseas? The obvious place to start is the Internet. Remember, the school websites naturally place an incredibly positive spin on their school. If, like us, you are unable to visit your host country prior to your relocation, you do have to rely on Internet research as a start. And this is far from ideal, and unfortunately, this has meant that we haven't always make the right decisions for our daughter.

[00:28:31.280]
For example, looking for a school in Berlin while we lived in Tokyo, we found a marvellous rural school set in beautiful grounds. On paper (or on the screen) it was a perfect step from a very urban school which had the playground on the roof of a high rise. However, it ended up being extremely not the right school for her, which we didn't discover until she'd been there for a few weeks. I'll not go into detail now as this is already shaping up to be a long episode.

[00:28:58.370]
However, I'm not afraid of admitting that I got it wrong and that I didn't ask the right questions of the school before selecting it. And I wasn't afraid to move her. It was absolutely vital that she was moved from that school. She coped wonderfully. It's better for a kid to be happy in a school. And it's a useful reminder that we choose a school that fits them, not our adult ideals, necessarily.

[00:29:24.080]
Word of mouth is not my favourite way of choosing a school, let's say. You can ask around for recommendations and you can speak to colleagues, other parents and call on anyone who has a connection to that country or potential school. But you need to take it with a huge pinch of salt, though. Remember you're choosing for your child and this means what is right for some people isn't necessarily right for you and your child.

[00:29:48.310]
Now, a few other things with the school that you need to look into... Lifestyle, does the school day fit in with your lifestyle? In some countries, the school day starts and finishes early. Really early! If you'll be working, this may cause some difficulties. The schools my daughter attended in Berlin and Pretoria started at 7.30 in the morning and they finished at a different time each day. It was deeply confusing. Absolute mayhem for your career, and sleep! And some countries have a culture of having a half day of school once a week, meaning that you have to be around for that as well.

[00:30:24.670]
How far away from your home is the school? Would you be able to get there easily in case of an emergency? Another factor to consider with regard to distance is that your child may not have friends close to home if the school is too far away. Yes, the school may be perfect, if indeed there is such a thing as a perfect school, but if it's a long way from your home, you may find your child is unable to socialise locally and may be unhappy outside of school hours.

[00:30:52.000]
How will the school run work? The dreaded school run - the bane of my life! Some countries have school buses that go door to door. The first time I encountered these, it was just an absolute miracle. I loved them. Others do not. It's not really a thing in the U.K. I just love the idea. You may end up struggling to do the school run on public transport. I think I've mentioned our experience in Tokyo. Getting to and from the school took two and a half hours each way on public transport with nearly two miles of walking and an extremely grumpy child. Once we bought a car, it only took 15 minutes. Older kids may need to take public transport, so factor this into your search to.

[00:31:35.990]
With very young children, this will be their first taste of school life, so the curriculum isn't necessarily the first priority. At that age, the most important thing is getting into the school spirit, learning how to learn and learning how to socialise. If you have more than one child, it will, of course, be easier to get them both into the same school for logistical reasons, but this isn't always possible. So that's something to take into account when making your decision.

[00:32:04.880]
Basically, choosing a school can be a minefield, and it all boils down to a very personal decision; a decision you make based on the information you have at that time and a decision that we can only hope is for the best. Sometimes we get it wrong. If that happens, please don't beat yourself up about it. Deal with it, fix it. I believe it is absolutely crucial for the child to be happy to go to that school and to enjoy their time there.

[00:32:32.130]
As I say, this is particularly relevant for primary aged kids as they are learning to enjoy learning. If they don't enjoy it now, it will only get harder as time goes by as they'll have this bad association with school. It is important for you to understand that it's not the end of the world if you select a school that is not a good fit for your child. You can always and should always change your mind if it's not working out. You should not be afraid to do so. It will not ruin their life to change school. It may ruin their life to stay at the wrong school.

[00:33:05.540]
Let's see if I can briefly summarise here. So much depends on individuality that it's hard to give you a definitive guide to choosing a school overseas. Although my book, linked in the show notes, does attempt to go some way to help you with this. Each child is different. Each country's school system is different. Families differ in their requirements and wishes, and even relocations vary greatly.

[00:33:30.080]
You may have attended the British International School in one country, but the British International School in your next country may end up being an absolute crapfest. Choose a school that fits your child, not necessarily your ideal school, but the school that fits the individual person that is your child. Obviously, the school needs to fit in with your lifestyle as well, and it very likely isn't the school that everyone else sends their children to. Please don't get sucked into that.

[00:34:00.500]
So a recap of what to consider - the key points before selecting a school.

[00:34:06.080]
How long are you going to stay in that country? Is it permanent or temporary? What's the next country or school or education system? What do you want your child to do in the future? Actually, more importantly, what do they want for themselves? Is university on the horizon? If yes, and in which country? What kind of career?

[00:34:27.560]
Now, kids don't have to know what they want to be when they grow up. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up! Never have done! For some people, it's set, and I find that absolutely fantastic. But please don't expect your child to know and don't even expect your child to go to university, they may not. Just have a kind of a life plan mapped out and be prepared to change direction as necessary.

[00:34:52.820]
What about your language abilities? Can you support your child at school? Do you have the language skills to help them if they're going to school in a different language? What about the curriculum? Do you have enough information about potential curriculum differences to help them maintain their academic skills while abroad?

[00:35:12.180]
Location and the school run. I know I keep mentioning the school run, but it really can muck up your day! Is it important for your child to be able to socialise locally and go and visit friends after school? This will be a yes if your kids are older. Obviously, if they're young, you still have to accompany them. Do you want to be within a reasonable distance of the school or are you happy to drive long distances and not get to know their classmates and friends that well?

[00:35:38.700]
If you have any special educational needs, do some deep research, find out if the schools on your short list support your child's specific needs. And remember, if you're considering home education, it may not actually be legal.

[00:35:54.200]
Sometimes parents put too much emphasis on trying to find a good school. This is very hard to judge as a parent as it depends on the curriculum, the children, the teachers, and differs from class to class and from child to child, even within the same family.

[00:36:10.520]
What is more important than academia is that your child is happy learning, that your child is happy in school. A happy child learns, regardless of the school's reputation.

[00:36:23.320]
And just to reiterate again, do not be afraid to change schools if that one is all kinds of wrong for your child.

[00:36:31.360]
Thank you for being here today for my super long episode on choosing a school. Again that was just brushing the surface. Please go buy my book. It's in the show notes linked in the show notes. It's available on all the Amazons. It's called 'Expat Education: An Expat's Guide to Choosing a School Overseas'. Not very imaginative or cool, it just does what it says on the tin.

[00:36:56.530]
I've also got an eBook that you can download that lists all the questions that you can ask the school overseas -or at home for that matter - and I'll link that in the show notes as well. And again, if you are considering boarding school for your expat child, get in touch and I'll go through some information with you there.

[00:37:17.590]
Thank you again for being with me. I'll talk to you again soon. Take care.

[00:37:41.010]
Thank you for listening to the Expatability Chat podcast, please check out ExpatChild.com for more free information and resources and follow me on your favourite social media. Don't forget to join me next week for another episode. Until then, bye bye.


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