Today, more and more people are choosing to move abroad to maximize their career potential and build new lives in interesting places. If you’re doing this, one of your first concerns is going to be the impact on your kids. How can you make sure that they continue to get a good education? If you’re only going abroad for a couple of years, will they be able to fit into the American system again when they get home? Understanding your options well ahead of the move itself will give you time to make sure that a suitable solution is in place.
The international experience
Finding something that works for your children is easier if you go to a city with a large US ex-pat population. Places such as Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, and Bangkok have supportive communities and strong networks of services that have grown up to provide for them. Community websites make it easy to research schooling options, and you can usually find people willing to help you with this and other aspects of getting settled in.
Usually, the simplest option for educating your children abroad, where it’s available, is an international, American standards school. In this environment, your children will be able to continue with a familiar curriculum and take exams that give them qualifications that are recognized in America. They’ll be studying in English, and the presence of other English-speaking kids will help them make friends quickly, but they’ll still get the benefit of meeting kids from different backgrounds and being exposed to different languages.
If you can find a local school with a good reputation, you might find that it suits your children very well. Children usually pick up new languages very quickly, and studying this way can make them fully bilingual for life. They’ll also learn a lot more about the local culture, making it easier for them to become naturalized if staying in the long term. The downside is that the qualifications that they get may not be easily transferable internationally and they may find their first few weeks hard going.
Home schooling and tutoring
If neither of these options sound right for your kids, there’s also the option of home schooling or bringing in a private tutor. This way, you have more control over the curriculum, and it’s usually possible to partner with a local school to arrange for your children to take suitable exams. Tutors can be expensive, however, and doing it yourself is very time-consuming, plus it will limit your children’s opportunities to socialize.
If your children are old enough to understand the issues, it’s a good idea to involve them in the decision. This will help to give them a sense of control at a time when they’re facing a big upheaval, and help them feel more confident about the move. As long as they’re reassured and you’re ready to do whatever is needed to help them adjust, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t thrive in their new educational environment.