Should You Send Your Expat Child to a Local or International School?

Should You Send Your Expat Child to a Local or International School?

When you move to a new country, you’ll have to make a lot of big decisions, from where to live to your next career move. However, if you move with children, then the main priority will no doubt be their education. Thousands of children move overseas to become expats each years, so studying abroad is nothing new for a child, but you may be concerned as to what kind of education will work best for them. Your two main options for schooling when you move are international schools, which are usually found in most expat areas, or the local school, but which one is best for an expat child?

Check school availability before you move

If you’ve got a job in a certain area of the country, then you might not have a huge amount of choice in where you live. But if you do get to pick the district or town, it’s worth finding a place with a decent range of schools. International schools are usually found close to areas with a lot of expats from countries like the US, UK, or Australia, so usually teach in English, although you’ll find a few where other European languages are the main language spoken.

Look at what is taught

The good thing about international schools is that they usually follow, or have a curriculum that’s based on, the same subjects as your child will do in their home county. You should take a look at the international school curriculum Bangkok and see if it works for your child. Most of the time, kids will graduate with an internationally recognised qualification when they turn 18, which means they can then go to university locally, in their home country, or wherever they like in the world.

If you send your child to a local school, they’ll be taught the same curriculum as a local child. This means they’ll work towards the same qualifications as the other kids in their class. Is this a good thing? It depends on the country. Some children may find it’s more difficult to get a university place or prove their qualifications if they’ve come from certain countries.

There can be a language barrier

One of the biggest challenges to a child going to school overseas is going to be the language barrier. Children certainly learn languages quickly, but not necessarily quickly enough to catch up with their classmates.

Some things to consider with regards to the language barrier are:

  • Some languages are easier than others to learn. A young child may struggle with more complex languages
  • Children can feel unsettled if they’re in an environment where they can’t communicate with others
  • If you send your child to a school where they speak the local language, they’ll need to catch up with their peers, which can be a long process
  • International schools teach in English, but your child will also have the opportunity to learn the local language at their own pace, alongside their usual studies

It really depends on the child in question and what they can cope with. Some kids do just fine at a local school, especially if they’re very young, while others will find the language barrier a problem and can end up getting upset.

School facilities can vary

International schools are basically private schools, which can have a distinct advantage for kids who attend. Firstly, there’s the quality of teaching and smaller classes, but one of the main advantages is that international schools often have better facilities than local schools. This can include things from swimming pools to sports fields, better classrooms and even small details like homemade lunches.

Of course, not all local schools are bad. The facilities and quality of the school can vary massively, so consider things on a case-by-case basis. It’s worth looking at both kinds of school and thinking about where your child will be the most settled. After all, that is the most important thing.

Friendships can be easier in international schools

When kids move overseas, their main concern is leaving their friends behind, and they’ll no doubt want to form friendships in the new country. But making friends isn’t always easy, especially if they go to a local school. International schools often make it easier for kids to settle in. This is because the children there are in a similar situation, all away from home and looking for friends.

In an international school, you also don’t have the language barrier for making friends. Your child can socialise in their own language, which also can help them feel more confident when approaching other kids. Going to international school isn’t a guarantee of new friendships, but it can make life easier for them, and there are often events that allow you to become part of the school community.

You pay fees for international school

It’s worth keeping in mind that international schools are fee paying. Sometimes, you’ll get school fees paid as part of an expat package, but otherwise, you’ll have to raise the fees yourself.  Many expats find that the overall cost of living is cheaper than at home, so school fees may not be a consideration. Also, if you use a local school, you’ll still pay expenses, so you should work out the cost of both and compare. International schools are usually cheaper compared to private schools in places like Australia or the UK, so even if you can’t afford it in your home country, you may find that you can afford it when you move somewhere new.

When you move to a new country, schools are one of the most difficult things to sort out. Children can often be concerned about a move to a new country, and the right school can make the change a little less dramatic for them. It’s worth getting their place ready before you hop on the plane, not only because the best schools can be oversubscribed, but also because this will ensure a smoother transition, and they can learn more about their new school before they arrive.

Cristina Macias
Cristina Macias is a 25-year-old writer who enjoys reading, writing, Rubix cube, and listening to the radio. She is inspiring and smart, but can also be a bit lazy.