A Good Plan

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By World Family Education

Moving internationally is a major transition for any family. You’ll have to adjust to changes in language, housing, food, relationships, and lifestyle. On top of that, you’ll need to identify the best way to educate your child in this new setting. That decision can be daunting.

If you do feel this way, you wouldn’t be the only international family that’s overwhelmed. More than 75% of globally mobile people are anxious about their children’s well-being and educational situation, according to a recent survey by an international insurer.

Being proactive long before you travel is vital for a successful transition for you and your child. There are many variations and options for educating your child internationally, but ultimately, there are three most common choices:

  • international schools
  • local schools
  • home education

Because each family and each child is different, there’s no universally correct answer for deciding which educational option is best. The way your child receives an education is a very personal choice, based on numerous factors. To assist you with that decision-making process, we’ve identified some key starting points to think about.

A Good Education Plan Starts with the End in Mind

Understanding your family’s goals will go a long way toward helping you evaluate your options. It’s important to know your core values, and then shape educational decisions around them.

Some families make choices based upon their situation without first considering whether those choices truly align with their family’s long-term goals. This can result in frustration and even failure for the child.

Questions to consider:

  • Can you identify the grand purpose for education in your family? What are the social, moral, and spiritual goals you have for your family? What roles do the family and a school setting play in achieving these goals? Read more about Perspectives on Education at World Family Education to help you understand your family’s educational values.  
  • What does your home country’s educational model look like? What are the expectations and requirements for students at each major stage?
  • Do the laws in your home country limit your educational choices — such as using home education — even when living internationally? Read more about Home Education & Legal Issues at World Family Education.
  • Do you plan to re-enroll your child in your home country’s school system? Are there any special requirements in your home country for record keeping or accreditation when your child re-enters school?
  • Will your child likely go to higher education? Where might they attend college or university? What are the processes and requirements for entering college or university in that country?

A Good Education Plan is Unique to Each Student

Even if there is only one good educational option in your location, it’s important to understand your child’s needs and how they will be met. Having this insight will enable you to advocate for their unique needs in any situation.

Questions to consider:

  • What kind of student is your child? Do they have strong preferences in how they receive and process knowledge? The concept of “learning styles” might be a bit simplistic, but could be helpful as you look at options. You can read more at Learning Styles Online.com.
  • Can you identify when your child is feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Do you have a clear plan for how they can communicate this to you and how you will deal with it?
  • How does your child deal with transitions, and what educational options are the least disruptive to your family? Read more about Transitions at World Family Education.
  • Can your child confidently ask for help when they need it?
  • What unique learning needs does your child have? Have you or teachers in the past identified areas of delay or difficulty? Read more about raising Children with Special Needs while living internationally at World Family Education.

A Good Education Plan Accounts for Location and Resources

Your family’s situation is a very important consideration as you research options. This includes physical, social, cultural, and spiritual variables that can be difficult to predict before you move.

Questions to consider:

  • Are you traveling nomadically or settled in one location for at least one year?
  • Are quality schools available in your location? Can you afford the fees?
  • Is religious instruction and community important to your family? Do international or local schools offer this, or should you explore home education?
  • What local and expat social opportunities are available?
  • Will you have access to a consistent Internet connection? This is important for many home education options.
  • Are visas an issue that will cause you to travel or have instability in your setting?
  • What extracurricular options are available (music/sport lessons, clubs, etc.)?

Having a clear understanding of these three areas — your family’s goals, your child’s needs, and resources at your location — will help you begin to shape a good educational plan.

What’s Next?

The next step is to learn about ideas about learning and how they shape schooling options around the world.

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Perspectives on Education

A family’s perspective on education will have a big impact on how they evaluate past experiences and potential options. Many families have not had to consider theories of learning because these underlying philosophies may be deeply ingrained in their home culture or highly controlled by their government.
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