By: Tamara Molino | CRP, GMS

May 10, 2022

Taking a look at schooling options for international transplants

When an employee accepts an international assignment or position, they have to think about how their family will adapt to the new destination. One of the most stressful situations for a family moving overseas is the thought of school for the kids. Moving is hard enough on children, then add on learning a foreign language, and they are probably scared about making friends, fitting in, etc. 

First and foremost, relocating families should do everything to get their children proper language training classes. It would be worth checking the relocation package as language classes can often be included. While looking into the relocation benefits, it is common for companies to provide family and spousal support programs. There could be good programs in the program to help family members adjust. After the move, the kids can start school. 

Expat families heading to a foreign country will have plenty of questions regarding everyday life. However, one of the main questions that should be brought into the conversation should be, “what are the best education options for my children in our new country?” 

Every family has different expectations and opinions on their children’s education needs. But it should be noted that there are a few options for education overseas. Of course, each option will have pros and cons, but doing what is best for each child is essential. 

Option 1: Online Schooling from Home Country

Today’s technology offers numerous options for students to complete and submit assignments from anywhere. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, many families have turned to virtual learning as their primary education situation. However, there are pros to allowing children to do online school while living aboard. 

First off, kids won’t have to be pushed into the deep end when learning a new language. If they are doing online school from their native country, they can do their assignments in their language while learning their new language at their own pace. This may help children feel more comfortable. It’s also possible that kids can keep in touch with classmates and teachers they like, helping ease the stress of a long-distance move. 

The major con with this option is that it might take longer for kids to make friends and find activities to do in the new destination. In addition, online classes will require kids to be on the computer for most of the day, which means they might not have as much interaction with children their age. An excellent alternative to the cons of this option could be to enroll kids in local sports programs and other after-school activities. 

It’s worth mentioning that homeschooling is always an option. The pros and cons are similar to online school, but with more added pressure and work for the parent(s) in charge of the kids’ schooling. 

Option 2: Public School

If the children of the expat family already have a foundation in the new language, then the public school could be a great choice. In theory, attending a local school would make it easier for the kids to meet new friends and learn about fun, local activities. In addition, it would be a reasonable assumption that most local schools also have their language training classes to help the expat children understand more of the new language. 

The apparent con with this option comes up if the relocating children minimally speak the local language. This can make it difficult for the new students to keep up in class and make friends. Not to mention adds an enormous amount of stress and public anxiety being in a school where it’s hard to understand teachers and other students.

Option 3: Enroll in a Private International School

It’s safe to say that the online school route is probably the most used by expat families for education options. But before the Covid-19 pandemic made online classes a new commonality, many international relocators used private schools for their children. In many cases, expat families would seek out private schools that offer classes in their native language. 

This option provides relocating students with familiarity as they can still interact in their own language. The good thing about this option is that in many of these schools, they do teach the curriculum in the destination’s language so that children still learn their new language at a great pace. It’s an obvious point out, but this option is probably going to be the most expensive.

How GMS Can Help Expat Families with Children

Global Mobility Solutions (GMS) is the industry leader in relocation services. Our experienced team has been helping expat families with international relocation since 1987. Some of the pre-decision services we provide include Virtual Destination Spotlights. These spotlights are customized packets about the new location including general information, expatriate housing, schooling, and education info, cultural awareness, visa and immigration information, and more.

GMS offers another destination service in the coaching stage: detailed school reports. These reports show detailed information on educational options at the transferee’s new destination, including a “report card” on the school’s rating/performance. Here at GMS, we understand that an international move can be a trying task for the whole family which is why we do our best to make the relocation process as seamless as possible. 

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Vice President, Global Services Tammy is responsible for GMS’ regional operations teams in North and Latin America, EMEA, and APAC. Tammy provides over 14 years of leadership experience in the areas of international assignment management, global network management, global consulting and business development. Her experience in global mobility includes new client implementations, policy and compliance development, global compensation and billing, vendor management, case management, and real estate home sale/purchase programs. Tammy travels extensively and studied abroad in Switzerland, Chile, Peru, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

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