How Assignees Can Pick the Right School for their Expat Kids

Picking the right school for the assignee’s child who has relocated with them to their new country of employment is a momentous decision. It is not something that should be overlooked or taken for granted. 

An assignee’s productivity and overall happiness rely greatly on how they, and their family, adjust well and easily to their new environment. Loneliness, disconnection from their immediate community, the difficulty of being the new kid on the block — these are the frequent challenges that an expat child wrestles with. 

The school they go to can help provide the solution and assist in their integration into their new community. But if the school and the child are not a fit, the adjustment can take a longer time; worse, any incompatibility can lead to more emotional and psychological problems for the child and eventually the assignee and their spouse as well.

Continuity of curriculum

This is something most parents overlook. As pointed out by Expat Child, the time of relocation will disrupt to a greater or lesser degree the child’s academic development, e.g. stopping school middle of the year. Ideally, this can be tempered if the child enters their new school in the new region or country at the start of enrollment or just a few days before classes begin. Entrance during mid-semester will lead to undue pressure in catching up with academics and extracurricular activities. 

The assignee, with the help of the global mobility manager, should assess how far off into the school term their child will be should they enter that particular school during that particular time of relocation. Beyond that, they should also check the level of similarity between the subjects that the child used to take in their former school, and that of the one that they are considering. Obviously, the closer the curriculums are to each other, the faster the child can catch up.

Lifestyle choices

Relocate Magazine advises the assignee and their spouse to check into the more personal factors that can influence their child’s development. Grades are important, but they are not the lone determinant. Extracurricular activities are another factor. Are there clubs that the child can join which will help develop their soft skills? Are there events where they can shine and stand out? Are there language courses that can enable them to quickly communicate in the language of their parents’ new country of employment? Learning the idioms and pop culture can also lead to more bonding time with their classmates.

International schools or local schools?

Expat Child gives the pros and cons of each choice. Studying in an international school can open up the child’s perspective to a bigger world peopled by kids from other countries, races, and cultures.

This can broaden their perspective and maybe even appreciate the adjustments that their own parents are going through. An international school is also an investment in preparing them to live, work, and interact in a multiracial setting (especially if they are mid-school teens who are contemplating on following the footsteps of their parents).

On the other hand, studying in a local school can fast-track the immersion of the child into their immediate neighborhood or country, which will be their home for the foreseeable future. They would be able to see and understand first-hand the local beliefs, traditions, festivals, and celebrations that have a huge impact on where they live. 

Selecting the school of the assignee’s child should not be a hasty process. The parents should also involve other stakeholders who can give revealing insights, such as the heads of educational institutions, ambassadors, and housing providers like California Corporate Housing, as it has assisted relocating families for many years now.