Many schools to choose from but which one is right?

If you speak to anyone considering a new life overseas, they’ll probably tell you one of the biggest obstacles to moving abroad is education.

It’s not an easy decision to disrupt a child’s schooling, uproot them and then expect them to cope with a strange curriculum, perhaps in a different language.

After all, telling a child to “man up and enjoy the adventure” probably isn’t the best way forward – but there are a number of more positive options parents can consider.


Home Schooling

Although it may suggest parents have to take on the role of the teacher, it’s not actually the case. The family pays in advance for the materials and for a tutor’s time and they will then lead the student through a series of modules via telephone and the internet, leading up to an iGCSE or A level exam if necessary. Completed work is marked and feedback given, with the student guided on where they have excelled and where they need to improve.

The advantage of this system of learning is that, with a good teacher and a dedicated student, home schooling can be almost as good as one-to-one tuition. Children who lack confidence in a classroom setting can also blossom and learn at their own pace.

However, to get the best from home-schooling, the student needs to take on considerable responsibility for time management and just how they apply themselves to each project. Parents have a part to play too of course but, if the child’s heart really isn’t in it, then it can become a daily battle and the classroom might be a better environment. Home-schooled children can also find themselves a little isolated and won’t have as many opportunities to make friends or pick up a different language without additional tuition.


International Schools

As the name implies, international schools are usually populated by children from many different nations all learning to a common curriculum. They have the advantage of a set regime and a classroom environment, which most children will find familiar. Although the host country’s language may well form part of their daily routine, most international schools will teach in English.

Well-used to helping newcomers settle, children who attend an international school will also tend to be more culturally aware and have the advantage of mixing with others their own age – many of whom, of course, will become new friends.

However, the international school can be costly and they’re not universally widespread. They can also become a closed society, insulating the child against the raw experience of living abroad. If their free time includes opportunities or active encouragement to immerse themselves in their new “home nation”, it’s a disadvantage which can be overcome pretty easily. If not, the child may be inclined to shy away from the unfamiliar, missing out on some of the adventure of a new life overseas.


Local schools

Total immersion in the culture of your host country can have many advantages. It can lead to swifter understanding of the nuances of the culture, a more speedy integration into the community, a sense of adventure and of real achievement.

Sending your child to the local school will mean they have to adapt; they’ll learn the language quickly and they will probably even be able to advise you on how to avoid unintentional cultural indiscretions.

Children are resilient – but it would wrong to expect them to settle immediately. It may be several months before they feel they have found their feet and, if there are no other foreign students to knock about with, they may find themselves isolated for a while. Classes may not be structured the way they’re used to either and they may be behind if the family arrived half-way through an academic year.

But, if the school itself is geared to helping students from overseas to settle, and if the teachers are willing to show patience and forbearance, it may not be long before your child no longer feels as though they’re swimming against the tide. Being fluent in another language can also be a huge advantage in later life.

However, if you are thinking of sending your child to a local school, good advice would be to find out as much about it as you can in advance. Your child is bound to have plenty of questions about what it will be like and having answers can make it that little less daunting, perhaps even giving them a head start on day one.

If you would like help looking for a property in Spain, Portugal, Turkey or Greece or, if you think we might be able to advise you on other issues relating to a new life overseas, why not have a read of some of our earlier blog posts? Alternatively feel free to drop us a line or give us a call and we’ll do our best to help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *