Moving to a new country can be an amazing, once in a lifetime experience for an expat family. A wide array of emotions will come up, including: excitement, fear, joy and a sense of overwhelm. One of the biggest stressors will most certainly be: where will my children go to school? The answer to this question will require much research and self inquiry on the part of the parents.
Each family, and each expat child is unique and so only they will know how to choose the right school. Though 87% of expatriate policies include provisions for education, much of the burden for the basic research to find the perfect institution to foster their child’s learning is placed on the parents. How can HR help?
We have come up with a list of questions that can help your transferring family reach the best decision on how to find the right school for their children.
- How does your child handle change? You need to know what your child can handle in terms of the change. Just because you and your spouse are ready for a new country, when you have children in the house, it is important to make sure that they will be able to handle the changes in their school and personal life.
- How does the curriculum compare to that of the native country? Americans, Brits, Chinese, French and Germans often want to go with a school with their own national curriculum. If they are expecting to move back to their native country, they will want a similar curriculum.
- What is the mission of the school? How do the values of the school compare to the parents’ values? They should be asking questions about the school’s views on: character development, social skills, religion, athletics, and community outreach among other things they feel are important for their child to learn and experience.
- What is the class size? Consider the classroom size. This can make a big difference in how children learn. Does their child need regular one on one support?
- How does the school integrate STEM and the fine arts? It is is important to understand how these subjects are integrated into the learning. Are they taught as separate subjects or integrated all the way through the curriculum?
- What are the ways the school fosters creative and inspirational learning outside the classroom? Some parents prefer that their child learns holistically. Does the school inspire outside the classroom learning?
- What are the reading lists? Are there outside reading requirements? What type of books are on the reading lists by grade?
- Language. How are foreign languages incorporated into the curriculum? This is especially important if the family will expect future travel and cross-border moves.
- Cost: How much of an investment will the expat family need to make and can they afford the school they are interested in? Like it or not, money must play a role in decision making.
Are you the one setting housing budgets and salaries for your incoming transferees? If yes, this guide can be very helpful. Stockholm Housing Guide.