The thought of educating children in a new country, often speaking a foreign language, can be frightening at times. Fortunately, there are several educational choices available, each with their own set of pros and cons. While you can search the Internet for information on each of the schools in your area, it often pays to listen to the advice of those who have traveled this road before you and who have been through this same experience with their own children.
To help you get a better understanding of the ins and outs of local schools versus international schools and of the costs involved in educating a child abroad, here is some advice from expats who have come before you.
Making the Choice: Local or International School
If it’s important to you that your kids are educated in English and that they interact with other English-speaking students, it makes sense to send them to an international school. Depending on where you live, they may have to travel some distance, but many parents feel that the high-quality education is well worth the effort – and the money too. Moreover, if you have recently moved abroad, your kids are likely already facing a whole slew of new challenges – learning a foreign language, adapting to a new culture, leaving old friends and family behind, and more. Deciding to send them to an international school removes the language barrier problem, allowing your children to operate in their comfort zone at least during school hours.
On the other hand, there are many benefits to opting for a local school education for your children. While they may struggle initially with the communication gap, kids tend to adapt quickly and pick up the essential phrases, vocabulary, and lingo they need to get by. Furthermore, you can hire a tutor even before you relocate to give your kids a head start in the language department, and there are plenty of online tutorials, CDs, and audio recordings to help your kids master any foreign language. In addition, local schools are typically government-funded, meaning less travel time and money and significantly reduced education costs.
Even better, your children will be interacting and socializing with peers who live nearby, presenting them with an excellent opportunity to meet new friends and forge important social connections. Finally, integration holds great promise for rapid language development, meaning your kids should look and sound like a local in no time at all.
Nowadays, more and more parents are choosing to home school their children in order to ensure that their kids get a practical, high-quality education that gives them one-on-one attention. Here are some of the advantages of home schooling your children in a new country:
- Greater control over educational content
- Opportunity to provide your kids with comfort and safety at a time when everything else is in turmoil
- Individual attention vs. a packed classroom
- Lessons can be designed to suit your child’s unique learning style and level
- More economical as there are no travel/gas expenses and kids don’t need to pack/buy lunch
Educating Children Abroad: Financial Considerations
There is no doubt about it: The cost of educating kids abroad is on the rise, whether you opt for a private international school or for a government-subsidized school in your local area. According to expat wealth management experts, many parents underestimate how much a good quality education costs nowadays. And yet, the value of a quality education is immeasurable in today’s competitive and global market. As such, the experts advise that parents plan ahead by putting money aside as soon as possible for the provision of education.
The good news, however, is that by carefully investing, by using their expatriate status to their financial advantage, and by capitalizing on tax savings, parents can create a substantial nest egg to meet their children’s future educational needs – oftentimes even more so than in their native country.
Soaring Demand at International Schools
Finally, parents who are moving overseas should keep in mind that the demand for a high-quality education at an international school is on the rise – not only for expat children but for the local populace as well. With more and more locals opting to send their children to these institutions (for the quality of teaching, to learn English, and to become bilingual), expat parents who don’t act quickly may fail to secure a spot for their kids in the school of their choice. In fact, the ISC Research online database of international schools reports that while expat students once filled almost all of the available slots, nowadays local children take up about 80% of the places at international schools. And of course, with soaring demands come soaring costs.
To ensure the best education for your children after moving to a new country, it pays to consult with both an educational specialist and with an expert financial advisor who can assist you in exploring all of the available options and help you make the right choice for your kids.
Einat Mazafi is the owner of NY International Shipping, an International Shipping and moving company based in New York. She is also a specialist in providing the best relocation solutions to clients worldwide.