Expatriation and Schooling: which school for my child?

Expatriation and Schooling: which school for my child?

8 May 2023 Expat life

You have just obtained your visa, the accommodation is already found, the papers are done and your employer is waiting for you? Shoot! The children! Language level, integration, how to choose an school in expatriation?

Expat parents, how do I choose a school for my child?

Searches on the Internet and its countless forums, phone calls, registration forms, for expat parents, choosing the right school for their child can be an obstacle course.

Let’s review the main criteria to consider when choosing a school in expatriation:

The language of instruction 

The main criterion for choosing a school for expatriation is the teaching language of the establishment. Unless the child is perfectly bilingual, it is risky to choose a school that only teaches in the language of the host country.

It is therefore preferable to go to a bilingual school so that they can develop their language skills and adapt as quickly as possible to this new environment.

school expat children

Choosing a school according to the languages offered

Once you’ve narrowed down the schools that teach in your child’s native language, it’s time to open as many doors as possible for their future! English, Spanish, Arabic, Russian or Mandarin are all opportunities and chances to enrich your child’s culture.

Tuition fees

While some countries such as the Czech Republic, Finland and Argentina have free or very low-cost education systems, the wallet often plays the role of arbitrator in these decisions.

Tuition fees in some countries can be daunting. In Singapore, for example, fees can reach $1,000 per month for a primary school student from outside the ASEAN economic zone (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Burma and Cambodia).

Note that for the better-off employees, children’s schooling can be covered in expatriation packages, bonuses negotiated with the employer that can take the form of a global budget or on-site benefits.

Choosing a school according to the duration of your expatriation

How long do you plan to leave? 3 months, a year, several years?

If your expatriation is long term, you have several choices:

  • The local public school that will teach the language of the host country;

The advantage: they allow you to immerse yourself more quickly in the local culture and make friends quickly by adopting the language of the country. This type of establishment is recommended for the youngest students because it will allow them to learn to speak and write a foreign language.

The disadvantage: Be careful because the way of teaching maybe different from your country of origin as well as the school program which could disorient your child in his adaptation to his new country. However, this can be a real opportunity to offer your child new opportunities!

  • A public or private bilingual school, whether Italian, French or Canadian. These schools are more developed in large cities and facilitate the transition to the country of origin;

The advantage: The real advantage of bilingual schools is that it makes the transition from your home country easier. Some programs are adapted to combine the two schooling systems: the one in your country of origin and the one in your new home. Choosing a bilingual school in expatriation allows your expat child to have an international and cultural opening.

The disadvantage: Depending on your host country, it is not certain that this solution is available. This type of school is mostly developed in large cities and for large countries (Italian, French school…). Tuition fees can be a hindrance in the choice of a bilingual school while expatriating, especially if you choose to send your child to a private bilingual school.

  • An international school, these schools teach only in English. Other languages are optional and generally, these schools are very multicultural;

The advantage: If you are looking for a curriculum conducted entirely in English, an international school is the most suitable solution. With this type of school, your child will be at the center of an important cultural and linguistic mix. This solution is often adopted by expat families whose goal is to expatriate themselves in the long term.

The disadvantage: Choosing this solution yes, but at what price? Indeed, in these schools the tuition fees climb very quickly. In addition, the academic level required is also quite high, so some international schools require a competitive exam to select future students. If you want your expat child to learn the local language, this may not be the best option!

  • Home schooling, while not allowing for direct immersion in the host country, it represents an easier transition for expat children.

So for whom is this solution best suited? Homeschooling is recommended for young children between the ages of 3 and 16.

The advantage: this system allows for a less abrupt transition for the child and to learn at his or her own pace. More time, easier adaptation and less stress for the child.

The downside: At first glance, homeschooling has some beneficial aspects. However, it will be more difficult for the expat child to acclimate and form new bonds. Furthermore, for the parent, homeschooling means a lot of organization and less free time! This is why you should think twice before embarking on such an adventure.

In case of a short expatriation, prefer bilingual schools that have links with the school system of your country of origin and will facilitate the return.

Based on the school’s reputation

In the digital age, it’s time to get behind your keyboards! To ensure a bright future for your child, especially for higher education, it is a good idea to research the reputation of your expat child’s schools. From “best high school in Istanbul” to “small school in Dubai”, you will spend time on forums and specialized websites to scour, sort and select the perfect school for your child.

schooling abroad expat

Also, don’t hesitate to seek advice from parents of students at the school, scan expat groups on social media or make appointments directly with the school’s directors.

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