Doing What’s Best For Your Expatriate Children
Expats moving overseas can expect to face many challenges. But moving with a child in high school can make it even more difficult.
Teenage angst is a real thing – so you’ll have to deal with the fact that your child is leaving their old school and leaving their friends behind. And in order to get them situated and comfortable in their new home, you’ll need to find them the right new school.
While moving overseas is a complicated process, the benefits outweigh the negatives. You can enjoy a lower cost of living, experience a new culture, and expose your family to new things. You’ll appreciate your favorite things from home that much more, and you’re likely to talk to your family back home more than ever.
But to experience those great benefits, you’ll need to work out the logistics first.
To make the transition from school to school easier for a child in high school, you’ll need to find the right international school. International schools ease the transition for expats compared to local public schools because they are usually English speaking. Making friends can also be easier because your child will be surrounding by fellow international students from places like France, the United States and other places all over the world.
Keep reading to learn how to find the best international high school for your child.
Look at International School Accreditations
The first and most important thing to look for is a school that is legitimate. A high school can have the best mission statement in the world, but it doesn’t mean anything if the school credits don’t transfer. To determine the legitimacy of a school, look at their accreditations. Check with the Council of International Schools to get started. For higher education, take a look at the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies.
If you’re finding it difficult to find the information you need, ask for help. Reach out to the international schools in your new town and ask them for their accreditations. If they are legitimate, they should be able to quickly provide the answers you need.
Accreditations are also important if your child needs to transfer to another school. They’re also needed in order to apply to many colleges. So make sure you don’t overlook this crucial step.
Examine Course Offerings Closely
Don’t settle on the first international school you find. In order to determine if a school is right for your child, you’ll need to dig a little deeper.
Some schools have a set curriculum. Some schools offer more flexibility. Make sure you know what your school has to offer and, more importantly, what they don’t. If your child has a specific career goal or course of study in mind, you will need an international school that can set them up for success.
For example, if your child intends to pursue an engineering degree in college, you’ll need a school that offers advanced math courses. Or if your high school student requires special education classes, be sure to check with the school well before making a decision. A good way to check on specifical programs is to look through the staff directory. If the directory lists the head of a department you are interested in, reach out to learn more about the program’s offerings.
Many high schools with proper accreditations will offer an international baccalaureate program. If accredited, completion of a baccalaureate program will be accepted from colleges and universities.
International schools with immersion programs can also be extremely beneficial, especially if you plan on staying in the country for an extended period of time. We are also proponents of high schools that offer some sort of service learning opportunity. Search learning programs teach students valuable lessons through community service. The projects get students out into the community and can be a huge help in teaching a student a second language.
Classes aren’t the only thing to consider – take a look at extracurricular activities as well. Sports and after-school clubs are great ways for children of expats to find and make new friends. They also provide an opportunity for expats to learn more about the local culture. Take a peek at the school calendar and ask staff to make sure that the school you choose has the extracurricular activities your child wants.
Consider the Cost of International Schools
As you know, it’s a myth that all expats are wealthy millionaires just trying to travel the world. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Many expats move to enjoy a lower cost of living, yet international schools tend to be pricier than local schools. If you choose an international school but aren’t sure if you can afford it, be upfront with the school. Communicate your financial concerns with them and they may be able to help.
Summary of International School Needs
You have to do your research before choosing the international high school that is best for your child. Make sure the school has the proper accreditations needed for your child to transfer at a later date and apply to college when they’re ready. Check to see if they have the courses that your child wants to study. And consider the costs before signing up for a school you can’t afford.
As an expat parent of a high school student, you’ve got to do your homework before your child can do theirs.