Living abroad can be an incredible experience for children. Those who have spent extended time traveling, living, and studying outside of their home country tend to have greater empathy and a better understanding of others. However, not all destinations are equal when it comes to your child’s education. It’s important to research and make sure there’s a quality school nearby before committing to a new job or transfer unless you prefer to put your child in a residential program at school.
There are a few different aspects to consider when choosing the right school for your child. You may be able to get into local, publically-funded schools, but keep in mind that while these schools offer the most exposure to local culture and languages, that may or may not be a good fit for your child. Being an outsider in a new context can lead to stress and bullying, and while a language barrier is great for quickly teaching second language skills, the experience may be traumatic for your child and will certainly impact their learning and grades. If you’re working in a predominantly English-speaking country like Australia, that will be more feasible than, say, Hong Kong. Even in places where English is widely spoken, like the Philippines, local schools may be a challenging cultural fit.
Homeschooling or distance learning is also an option, but it requires that your child be adept at self-motivation, sitting quietly, completing assignments, and learning via written or recorded content. Depending on the age and initiative of your child, it may also necessitate the presence of a supervising adult, which may be more expensive than sending the child to school.
International schools are a positive alternative for expats. They provide English language instruction and an internationally-recognized curriculum so if you are transferred and your child has to change schools, it’s a less difficult transition. Their education will be recognized and of benefit at the post-secondary institution of their (or your) choice.
On a social level, international schools tend to have a very mobile student population, so your child will enjoy all the benefits of a diverse friend group without the alienation that can happen when just a small portion of the student body is new. That environment, full of other well-traveled, well-educated, diverse students, can contribute to your child having a large friend group and a distributed network of future contacts around the world.
Additionally, international schools tend to emphasize next-level offerings such as advanced leadership and problem-solving skills through expanded curricula and after-school or supplementary programs. International schools in Singapore emphasize outdoor education and have programs for sports, arts, music and drama, and digital learning. International schools in Hong Kong are similarly excellent and provide a well-rounded educational experience.
An international school is an excellent choice for families moving abroad. Both the academic and social experience is likely to be better for students than local schools or remote learning, and the emphasis on well-rounded, secure, empathetic, and healthy students sets your child up for success.