There are a ton of decisions that parents need to make to ensure that a move abroad is as smooth as possible. Arguably the most important is selecting a school for your child. Your child’s school will have a big impact on their experience living abroad, so it is important to take the time to research all of your options. Thailand – like many places – do not accept expats into national public schools. Despite this, several international schools in urban centers like Bangkok cater to expats and locals.
International schools offer an exemplary education for children. Courses are rigorous, well-rounded and grounded in producing global citizens who can go on to any well-regarded university. Don’t forget that these private institutions are also businesses facing numerous changes. Identifying the right school for your child can be a dizzying exercise, but accounting for these four factors can bring the right school into focus.
Calculating the cost
The cost of the school is a huge deciding factor. International schools can be very expensive, so you will need to be aware of the cost of tuition and other associated costs, such as the commute and extra-curricular activities. While many employers will cover the cost of tuition for their employees, this often does not include preschool or additional school costs. This is why your should make sure you have a realistic budget for your child’s education.
Identifying the right location
Where the school is located can be just as important as the school itself. Factors like the school’s distance from your home, the safety of the area, and whether you will need to arrange transportation are significant when making your decision. Knowing where you are going to live first can help to narrow down the school search.
How does the public perceive the school?
This may seem counterintuitive but one of the best ways to get a feel for a school is by doing research to understand how the school is viewed by the community. This should include reaching out and talking to parents of current and former students. They will have an unvarnished opinion of how the school operates and can discuss how the school deals with issues or communicates with the school community. Additionally, you can determine how well the school may handle your child’s educational needs.
Once you have a shortlist of schools, visit the campuses and take a tour. Pay attention to the school culture to gauge how your child would fit in. Reading online reviews can also help to form an opinion of an institution but it should not be your primary form of research. It is hard to trust the motivations of positive and negative reviewers. Like most situations, the truth will lie somewhere in the middle. There is ultimately no harm in getting as much information as possible to make an informed decision.
The school’s curriculum and philosophy
A crucial factor when selecting a school for your child is the school’s philosophy and approach to education. You will want to make sure that the school offers a curriculum that is compatible with your child’s age, needs, and abilities. Confirming that the school is accredited is a good starting point. Accreditation demonstrates that the school meets certain standards set by the country or organization that has issued the accreditation. Many schools will have their accreditation information available on their website or you can contact the school directly to inquire.
It’s also important to ensure that the curriculum offered by the school matches up with what your child would learn in their home country. This includes the language of instruction. In many international schools English or French are the primary languages of instruction. If your child is not fluent in the language of the country you are moving to, you will want to confirm the language of instruction at the school and make sure that there are bilingual or immersion programs. This will help make the transition to a new school and country smoother.
The educational model is also critical. For example, do you want a school that follows a traditional model or one that is more progressive? Do students receive a lot of homework? Do students use computers in the classroom? Some schools specialize in certain areas, such as STEM or the arts, so if your child has a specific interest, you’ll want to make sure the school can cater to that. Ultimately, you’ll want to determine whether the school has the resources (e.g. facilities, technology, qualified teachers) to support your child’s learning.
In addition to the approach to education, make sure to find out about how the school operates socially. An example of this is how the school deals with issues like bullying. Another is parent communication and how the school provides updates on your child’s progress. Good communication is essential to ensuring that your child is happy and safe at school.
Selecting a school
It is an exciting but daunting prospect to find a school for your child when you move abroad. As with most big decisions in life, there is no one answer that fits all families. The most important thing is to get a feel for the school environment and community. With a little bit of planning and effort, selecting a school for your child to thrive in can be an attainable goal. These resources can also help you find the right school for your family.