By April Remfrey
Moving internationally can be both exciting and scary, providing families with a wealth of opportunity and stress. Once the transition process begins, the “to-do” list can be extensive and sometimes overwhelming. Not only are you planning a big move, but also simultaneously trying to find appropriate housing, setting up bank accounts, signing contracts, AND trying to find the best new school placement for your child(ren).
Add to the mix a child with learning needs that fall outside the general education bubble and you’re faced with yet another layer of complication. Making a smooth transition and finding the best academic environment, among the numerous options around the world, feels even more important. A successful transition for your child is often the foundation for a successful move internationally and can provide you with the space to enjoy the wonderful aspects of your move.
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One essential component to choosing the right school is having and assessing all the relevant information necessary to make a good decision. It is up to parents to provide prospective schools with insightful information and ask pointed questions when speaking with staff.
Create a Learner Profile
When a child with special needs requires school placement, it is prudent for schools to make informed and timely decisions about their ability to meet the student’s needs. Providing a document which profiles your child as a learner is an ideal way to begin conversations with a school. After receiving a learner profile, schools are able to make preliminary decisions regarding support and therefore recommend families begin the application process or communicate that their school will not be able to meet the child’s needs.
Although hearing “no” can be difficult, it is best that a school honestly speak about its limitations prior to a placement rather than create a problem later when your child is not receiving the support he/she needs to be successful and happy.
When putting together your child’s learner profile, consider including the following information:
Ask Pointed Questions
After narrowing the schooling search to those that understand your child’s learner profile, it is time for a more in-depth conversation either over the phone or in person. Be prepared with questions which will generate information from the school to help you make the final decision. Although questions should be personalized to your child’s needs, the following will provide a starting point:
If you are visiting a school for the first time and struggle to communicate because of a language barrier, be sure to request a translator well in advance of your visit. This is quite typical, so don’t feel that you are causing any extra burden to the school.
Schools tend to give very general tours to families. By asking in-depth questions specific to your child, the school can personalize the tour. When you fully understand the aspects of the school’s offerings for your child, you will be better prepared to make a good decision.
April Remfrey is an American special needs consultant living and loving life in Switzerland. April helps globally mobile families as they search for the best school for their child with special needs. www.remfreyeducationalconsulting.com