Moving to a new country can be a fantastic experience. It can be a chance for a fresh start, a new job, spectacular scenery, and fresh cultural influences. It can also be a time of great stress—it’s hard to settle in and make sure all your needs are met in a new place that follows different rules and has customs that feel foreign to you. When you have children, this stress is only compounded, particularly when it comes to finding a new school for your kids.
The following will examine some of the main considerations you need to keep in mind when selecting a new school for your children in a new country. Of course, no one knows your child better than you do. It is important that even if you make a choice, you remember you don’t have to stick with it. If your child is struggling in the new environment, there is nothing wrong with making a change that suits them more. If anything, you’ll be teaching your kid that they have the power to make changes in their life when they’re unhappy.
The first factor is the language your child speaks and the language you want them to attend school in. There is no right or wrong answer here, but whatever you decide will have a big impact on which schools are options for you and your child.
Maybe you want your kid to continue their education in their first language. You might need to search outside of the typical public schools if this is what you’re thinking, but international and atypical schooling options do exist if you know how to look for them. If English is the language you want them studying in, look for British International Schools—they exist all over the world, like the Rugby School in Thailand, for example. Take some time to research your options online.
If you want your child to learn the language of their new country, you might want your child to enter school in the local language. Kids are incredibly intelligent, and they learn languages fairly quickly. This being said, open yourself up to the idea of hiring a bilingual tutor that can help bridge the gap as their grasp on the language develops. Your kid might also need more emotional support than usual, particularly when it comes to making friends in their new language. A big portion of this can be mitigated by being open and honest with your child before the move. Make sure they know the basics like hello, goodbye, please, and thank you. If they have allergies or other health considerations, make sure they can express this as well.
SPECIAL NEEDS CONSIDERATIONS
Once you’ve narrowed down your schooling options by the language, you’ll want to consider other needs your child might have. Would your kid thrive in an arts-based school? A sciences-based one? A school with fantastic sports programs? Does your child have any special needs in the education department? Like a speech therapy program or teachers who are experienced with certain learning disabilities? All of these are important considerations, and there are countless options available as far as education goes. Different countries have wildly different schooling programs available that subscribe to different educational philosophies.
Make a list of all the needs your child has and put them in order of priority. Seek out schools and take note of how many items on your list the educational facility can offer.
SPEAK TO YOUR CHILD
Especially if your kid is older, you’re going to want to speak to them and gain an understanding of how they feel about their education. You might be surprised to hear that your kid wants to take music lessons, and you can take a look at the options that have great musical courses. Your kid might want to be closer to home instead of dealing with a long commute (yes, children also hate traffic). Having these conversations and bringing up their own priorities can help children learn good decision-making skills. Hearing them out and understanding why they value certain elements of their education can help you make the final choice between your top options.
The above considerations should be enough to get you started in choosing a school for your child in a new country. Of course, every family, every child, and every school is different. No one knows your kid better than you do. Trust your instincts—if something sounds great but leaves you feeling unsure, listen to yourself.