Placing Your Child in an International School
If you’re thinking about enrolling your son or daughter in a school overseas, you will probably be aware that there are plenty of things to bear in mind. In this article, we’ll explore some of those considerations.
Leaving their home and their friends at a previous school can be a difficult experience for children, and it may be harder for an older child to ingratiate themselves into a new school than for a younger child
Although it might be hard at first, going to school abroad can turn out to be a very positive experience for a child. Overseas students are known to be more self-assured and more open minded, and likely to grow into articulate, savvy adults.
If they are leaving friends behind, encourage your child to stay in touch with them. They should get home and email addresses, and see that keeping in contact is fun. They should also feel like they can tell you how they’re feeling, and encouraged to ask any questions. Keep them involved in the planning, tell them why you’re doing it, what there is to be excited about, and generally let them learn about their new school and their new country.
You’ll want to be sure that the standard of education your child receives is good enough, and you should be aware that some academic qualifications are not necessarily transferable and may carry less weight later down the line, when it comes to getting a job. Be clear what the qualification is worth and whether it’s worth achieving.
Also consider how long your child will be studying at their new school. Be wary of enrolling them somewhere for just a year or two in one school, before moving them onto another, which will cause disruption to your child’s education. Think about the education system your child is used to, and how it will differ in their new school. This includes the timing of the school terms, and how these are different from the UK. For example, in Australia, the school year runs from January to December, and provision should be made for the discrepancy.
When it comes to sending your child to a school with a language that’s different from their own, there are two options – immersion (fully taught in another language) or bilingual (some of the day taught in English). The former option is a risk, as you’re asking for your child to learn a new language and settle into a new culture. The bilingual option allows them to learn at a more comfortable pace, but make sure they arrive at their new school with as much knowledge of that language as possible. Exposure to language classes, books, DVDs and films will be very useful. Depending on your child’s ability to pick things up, it might take several months or a year or two for them to get their head around the language.
When you’ve decided on a school, you’ll have to complete the paperwork to make it happen. As well as the school’s general application form, you’ll probably need to provide copies of your son or daughter’s report card for the last three years, a copy of their birth certificate and a valid passport or visa. References may also be necessary, plus proof of vaccinations from their previous school(s).
The expenses involved in sending a child to an international school can be very high. In Hong Kong, tuition fees can cost up to $125,000 (£10,000) per year. In the USA, fees can reach $35,000 (£21,000) per year. In France, it’s €25,000 (£20,000), and in Spain up to €15,000 (€12,000). That’s before you’ve considered any boarding costs, which can double that figure, and some institutions ask that you make a donation into their development fund. Plus, there are compulsory school trips and the costs of any other maintenance fees.
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