A Parent’s Guide to an Expat Education Abroad

The task of choosing the right education for your child can seem an overtly complicated, and even scary one; the establishment and the educational journey you select for your little one is likely to shape his or her future from an early age, potentially setting the ball rolling for career aspirations, opportunities, and successes. Imagine, then, that you’re looking at schools and educational programs outside of the US. Whether you’ve chosen to send your child to an international school as a means of securing a better education, or have considered the route as part of an expat lifestyle, you’re likely to have faced a barrage of information from the moment your child reached school age.

So, how do you know what advice to ignore, and what to take notice of? What is the right approach to take when considering your child’s education? While not exhaustive, this guide should inspire a few of the decisions you’re likely to make when it comes to choosing your child’s expat education.

A parent’s guide to international educational styles

The most important job you’ll have is to assess the educational systems that can be found abroad, including the country to which you’re considering moving. Certification, licenses, and educational standards are likely to be different to anything you’ve come across before; you need to be sure that the system is going to work for your child.

Wherever in the world, you’re moving to, whether it’s Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, or the United Arab Emirates, it’s important to understand your options. Will you choose a private tutor, a local school, or an international school? What kinds of qualifications are available at your chosen school? While each will have its merits, the international school is a popular choice with expats.

Like their overseas counterparts, many establishments within the Hong Kong international school system teach the International Baccalaureate, alongside UK and US curriculums. The Baccalaureate is globally recognized, which is useful for students hoping to study elsewhere in the world. This style of education is an inspiring one, teaching students a range of subjects – academic and otherwise – alongside peers from a wealth of backgrounds. Such an environment is culturally enriching, and instantly reassuring; the lack of disruption experienced at international schools is ideal for families moving abroad for the first time.

Considerations when it comes to your child’s expat education

Research has shown time and time again that children can reap benefits from experiencing different cultures, and exploring new ways of learning. When it comes to your child’s education, you might want to consider the points below.

Whether qualifications can be gained elsewhere

Perhaps the main deliberation is whether your child’s newly gained qualifications can be transferred to other educational establishments around the world; indeed, what qualifications and standards will your child be attaining? If you’re likely to be spending a lot of time traveling, an international school, with its transferable qualifications and recognizable curriculums, might be the best option.

What are people saying about the school?

Take the time to listen to other members of the expat community. How did those families find the right school for them, and what experiences have they had? There are burgeoning online forums and discussion groups for expats, so dip your toes in now. Remember that a shiny school website won’t necessarily reflect the standard of education on offer. Speak to other expat parents; how effective are the school’s methods when put into practice?

What life lessons can be learned?

You’ll no doubt want to find a school that promotes extra-curricular activities and life experiences just as much as it pays attention to academic subjects. What sports and arts programs does your intended school provide? What kinds of trips and treats does it offer? International schools often excel in this field, as they’re conscious of providing children with a balanced education that reflects the diverse and dynamic world in which your child lives.

Wherever you’re moving and whatever the reason for your relocation, it’s important to involve your child in as many of the decisions as possible. While you’ll no doubt want the final say over your child’s school, you must make sure that he or she is comfortable with the idea of entering a new educational system and making new friends. Discuss the literature you’ve accumulated, and, wherever possible, take your child along to any meetings, interviews, and open days. Your whole family is about to enter an entirely new, and exciting chapter; by displaying openness, understanding, and tolerance now, you’ll make the transition much easier for everyone.