All parents want the same for their children: to be safe, happy, aware of themselves and the world around them, for them to do the right thing, and have the best possible future.
The list goes on, of course, and expectations change. Maybe learning a new language, or becoming proficient in a scientific discipline may add to the list of the “non-negotiables”. In the end, parents just want to make the right decision, ensuring their children are happy, prosperous and ethical members of society.
Schools have a huge role in leading and shaping a child’s future, so it is not surprising many parents become overwhelmed by the question, “Which school is best for my child?”
The above is especially true for globally-mobile families. Arriving in a new country as expatriates, they face a multitude of schooling options and often a wide-array of international schools.
Are international schools the answer? Let’s take a closer look at some of the typical traits and practices of international schools.
International education provides a transformational experience for many young people, coming together from different cultures and backgrounds; it provides access to exciting new resources and offers students new ways to learn. It also gives opportunities for them to explore new mindsets and narratives about global issues.
International schools, by definition, serve a (global) community with diverse nationalities, providing students with a more in-depth appreciation of language and culture, offering a platform wherein a child can experience another cultural perspective by merely socialising with their peers.
International institutions have local education accreditations from their host country and are often required to teach elements of the host’s country’s culture presenting unique opportunities for a child to appreciate the differences and similarities of cultures. This exposure to their own and other cultures helps them learn to work with people from different backgrounds, gaining insight along the way on how best to deal with differences.
When exposed to a diverse group of people, cultures, personalities, children learn to appreciate things that are not possible in traditional schools where the challenges are very different. This appreciation fosters emotional maturity and growth.
International school students have little choice other than to work-through the difficulties presented by language barriers, and even live away from parents (boarding schools), promoting independence early on. Overcoming these challenges, students gain a certain confidence and maturity only possible with these experiences.
International schools are well-known for providing exciting extra-curricular activities in their curriculum. These activities help children develop and discover new skills. For example, students can develop creativity and imagination through robotics, or improve their speaking techniques on a debate team. They often go on residential trips and discover far-away places with their class and teachers. International schooling truly embodies the saying, “learning doesn’t just happen within the four walls of the classroom”.
Students who participate in extra-curricular activities learn to cooperate and work with other students, developing their problem-solving and critical thinking skills more.
Is it too early to start thinking about your child’s future?
Businesses today are global, employers look for employees with experience of other cultures, as they’re more efficient in collaborating with people from varied backgrounds. In international schooling, students have experience in dealing with the global scenario right in their classrooms.
Internationally-schooled students are often fluent in more than one language. Multilingualism is an attractive trait for any employer and a definite advantage when it is time for them to embark on their career.
International school education can certainly give your child these distinct advantages. However, schools have “personalities” that generate a particular atmosphere going beyond SAT scores, the curriculum offered, or even class sizes. These are essential factors to be considered, but there is more to making this crucial decision.
To improve on the decision-making process, visit each school, meet the people who work there and ask about the school’s ethos and learning philosophy, ask questions based on your child’s interests, abilities and goals.
In the end, the best schools are not going to give you the hard sell – in fact; they will welcome your questions and accommodate you, helping you choose the best fit for your family.