Moving abroad: Finding the right school
May 2, 2018
Between preparing your belongings for an international move and arranging the paperwork before the departure, plenty of expat parents don’t start searching for a school overseas until they are about to board in their flights. Don’t delay the school search and avoid having to do a last minute, on spot, enrolment!
There are two things which are widely-know: organizing an international move takes time and patience, and choosing a school for the children needs a good knowledge of the educational centers in the area. Now imagine if you combine these two things and you add a little bit of pre-moving stress, uncertainty and lack of knowledge of the local language. What’s the result? Ending up making inadequate school choices for the children, at the last minute, because things haven’t been planned at the right time.
Schools can have an extremely important role in the successful adaptation and settling in of your kids in the new country. Remember that children in school age will have to leave their familiar surroundings, friends and maybe give up some of their favorite hobbies. All these can be stressful and demanding, thus, counting with the right support, in particular, from teachers and educators is essential.
But how can you find the right school in a place that you aren’t very familiar with? This can be a challenge and this is why we want to give you some basic tips to organize the school search!
1. Know the options available at the destination
Understanding the choices available is the first step to take, in the selection process. Try to find more information about:
- School types (public/private, religious/non-religious)
- School orientations (religious/non-religious, sports-oriented…)
- Caring facilities (day-care, extended opening hours, meal options…)
- Language choice (do they teach your mother tongue?)
- Curriculum (International curriculum, local curriculum…)
2. Check free places and costs
Not all the areas have the same number of (international) schools. Unfortunately, the economic rule of demand and supply plays a big role. Thus, you might find that in some areas there are few international schools while in other ones, there are a lot because there are a lot of expats. The number of schools, however, isn’t a guarantee for getting a place. A lot of schools have long waiting lists. This might restrict your choices – as well, of course, as the tuition costs, which can differ considerably depending on the area and the school.
3. Understand the teaching methods to assess if the school is good match
In addition to understanding the choices available, it’s important to consider everyone’s individual needs and requirements in order to make a smooth transition. Pay attention to your children's emotional development at the moment of the transition and the specific needs in order to evaluate if a certain school is the right one.
4. Be flexible
Replicating the same school’s conditions that your children have in your home country might not always be possible. Thus, you should try to be open-minded about the process, opportunities, and school availability.
5. Get specific information
While looking for a suitable international school, try to have as much information on hand about your children as possible so that you can be their advocate. The following list summaries some of the most important questions schools will ask:
• What is your child’s previous school experience and what type of school have they been attending?
• What is the teaching language at the international school?
• What is the current child’s year-group named?
• If the school is not English speaking, is the child receiving additional support for learning English as an additional language?
6. Schools have an active role in the children successful integration
Remember that there are three vital participants in the process: your child, the family, and the school. In general, international schools have also a responsibility to support families and children in this transition. You should all feel comfortable stimulating schools compromise with a high level of support for the expat children.
Are you planning to relocate from Bahrain with your family? Get a free moving quote!