How to choose a school abroad for your child: tips for expatriates

Moving abroad with the whole family is an exciting experience that can provide your child with a wonderful childhood, broaden his or her horizons and contribute to the formation of his or her personality. However, one of the main concerns of many immigrant parents when living abroad is to ensure a high quality education for their children. Often, it is necessary to look for a school before deciding whether to rent or buy an apartment.

How to provide a child with a quality education abroad? Here are some tips for choosing a school for expatriate parents.

What factors influence the choice of a school for a child abroad?

Choosing the right school for your children when you move abroad is an important decision that will be influenced by many factors, including:

- The expected length of stay at the destination: have you emigrated permanently, do you plan to return to your home country or move to a third country after a certain period of time.

- The age of the child: the younger the child, the easier it will be for him/her to adapt to a new environment.

- The period of the academic year in which you are moving.

- Language barriers.

- The family budget: tuition fees vary greatly from country to country and from school to school.

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Useful tips for choosing a school abroad

Although most of the time the choice of a school depends on the specific needs and wishes of each family, here are some tips to help you make the right choice:

1. Find the curriculum that best suits your child.

Determine whether you want the child to study according to a national or international curriculum. The answer to this question depends directly on:

- What was the child learning before moving?

- Does the child plan to move to a third country?

- Will the child take national exams?

- What university does the child plan to attend in the future?

2. Find out the class sizes in the schools in the future country of residence:

A good student-teacher ratio is an important element to consider when choosing a school abroad. In large classes, the child will have a wider circle of communication, while in small classes, each student receives more attention from the teacher. In addition, smaller classes tend to be more cohesive.

Remember that every child is special, and what is good for one may be completely unacceptable for another.

3. Pay attention to after-school activities.

After-school learning develops social skills and teaches teamwork. They also allow for fun and active time after school. Be sure to check what sports and extracurricular activities your prospective schools offer, as well as what is included in the school day as part of the core curriculum.

4. Check the equipment level of the school and teachers.

Find out how well equipped the prospective school is. Also pay attention to the teaching staff and the availability of support staff: teachers' aides, librarians and medical personnel.

5. Choosing the ideal school location

Although this is not the main factor to pay attention to. However, finding a school that fits well with your daily commute will give you more free time.

Also, depending on whether the school is located in the city center, in the suburbs or in the countryside, its grounds can range from cramped and unwelcoming to spacious and green.

6. Make a budget

Tuition fees at international schools vary depending on the location and the quality of education provided. In addition to education, the total cost of studying at an international school can include sports, meals, excursions, extracurricular activities and insurance. So don't forget to take into account all the extracurricular expenses you will save if you apply to an international school.

As an expatriate, you can negotiate with your employer to receive adequate allowances to guarantee the level of education required for your child.

If international or private schools are too expensive, focus on local schools.

What is the difference between an international and a local school?

Taking into account the above factors, most expatriates tend to choose between international and local schools. Below are the advantages and characteristics of each type of institution:

1. international schools

Most expatriate parents believe that an international school is the best option that meets the needs of their children. According to statistics, about 32% of foreigners send their children to an international school when they relocate.

The advantages of international schools include

- Internationally recognized educational programs, allowing children to continue their studies regardless of their country of residence.

- A supportive social environment: as international schools welcome new students from all over the world each year, foreign children may find it easier to adapt to a new school and make new friends because their peers are in a similar situation.

Disadvantages of international schools:

- Attending international schools is usually quite expensive, so they may not be affordable for all expatriate families.

- Convenient location: there are usually one or two international schools in the city and most of the time they are centrally located, so it can be geographically difficult for the family to get to the school.

2. Local schools

If there is no international school in the new place of residence, it is not available due to geographic or budgetary constraints, or you are moving to the country for permanent residence and want to immediately immerse your child in the local environment, the ideal choice would be a local school.

According to statistics, 31% of expatriates send their children to a local public school, while 21% choose local private schools.

Unlike international schools, the adjustment period in a local school can be more difficult and longer for a child:

- A foreign child will be in the minority in the local school environment and may not be confident enough to meet peers at first.

- Language barrier: usually local schools teach in the native language, which can create additional difficulties and problems in learning the curriculum.

- New curriculum, often different from what the child is used to at home.

Taking all of the above factors into account, the next step is to create a list of schools that you think may meet your criteria and arrange with the institution's management for field trips so that you and your child can get a feel for the place. If after the visits you have a positive impression of a particular school, you can start studying.