Moving your family to another country is an exciting adventure, but one that is not without its challenges. One of the most considerable and crucial of these, perhaps even ahead of deciding where to live, is the challenge of choosing the right international school for your child.
At first it may all seem quite overwhelming and understandably so. But, whether you decide to do it with the help of our educational expert or without, it is both important and helpful to have a clear idea of what your particular requirements are. Although these will vary according to each family’s specific needs and wishes, below are some key considerations which may help you when making your choice of international school.
1. Define the Curriculum That’s Best For Your Child
Do you want your child to follow a national curriculum (e.g. in a British School or American School) or an international curriculum (e.g. an IB School)? The answer will depend on a number of factors, these are the questions you need to answer:
- What your child has studied thus far?
- Do you intend to move countries again?
- Will your child sit national exams such as A-levels or APs?
- Where your child might go to university in the future?
Another aspect to consider is the delivery of said curriculum; is it a traditional system of direct instruction or an inquiry-based learning approach? Not only will this determine how they are assessed, but also how they develop as learners throughout their formative years. If you are still not sure about which curriculum you might be interested to read our guide about which curriculum to choose.
2. Determine the Right Class Size
A good student-teacher ratio is another important element worth thinking about. While large classes may mean a wider social circle, small class sizes mean each individual student benefits from more one-on-one attention from their teacher. Smaller classes also lead to higher levels of engagement and participation, a more cohesive class culture, and, according to research, better academic performance.
If your child has learning disabilities you might want to consider smaller class size so he/she will get more attention and care to his/her specific needs.
3. List the Extra-Curricular Activities You Wish
Extra-curricular activities are an essential part of any child’s education; not only for developing social, teamwork, and problem-solving skills, but also for keeping them busy and active, and for having fun! Make sure to check what after-school sports and activities your prospective schools have on offer, as well as what is integrated into the school day as part of the base curriculum.
As well as the activities, it is worth checking how well-equipped the school is, in terms of facilities, technology, and also support staff such as teaching assistants, special educational needs teachers, librarians, and healthcare staff.
4. Identify Ideal Locations For a School
While it may not be the most important factor for some, a conveniently located school can make all the difference to your day. Finding a school that will slot nicely into your daily commute can mean you have more time to spend on other things instead of traipsing back and forth across town in rush hour traffic before school and after activities. Also, depending on whether the school is located in the city center, the outskirts, or the countryside, its grounds could be anything from cramped and unwelcoming to spacious and lush. Of course, beauty isn’t everything, but for a place your child will spend so much of their life in, a nice environment can make all the difference.
5. Clarify Your Community Expectations
Finally, something critical for both parent and child alike; what kind of community are you looking for? Would you like to be involved in different events or meet other parents? Many expat parents find huge support in the connections they make through the international community, which greatly helps with the settling in process. Try to find an international school that values community and facilitates these relationships by taking every opportunity to get parents, teachers and students together to share experiences and form lasting bonds.
6. Make a Budget
The cost of International Schools will vary depending on the location and the quality of education provided. Generally, the yearly cost for an International School varies between $15,000 to 40,000 USD. In addition to education, the total cost of studying in an International School can include sports, food, trips, extracurricular activities, and insurance. So don’t forget to consider all the extracurricular expenses you will save by applying to an international school.
With all of these factors in mind, the next step is to create a list of the schools you think might meet your criteria, whittle it down to a shortlist, and book a tour so you and your child can get a feel for the place. If you can’t visit the school in person at the moment contact us so we can arrange a virtual visit or speak about your opportunities. At the end of the day it can come down to a gut feeling and whether you think your child will be happy there. If after the visits you have a positive feeling about one school in particular, great. If your child does too, you may be onto a winner.
Written in collaboration with Amity International School Amsterdam