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Types of Schools Abroad

If you take your children abroad during your foreign assignment, their new school will play a vital role in their brand-new life as expat kids. InterNations introduces you to the pros and cons of international schools, local schools, boarding schools, and homeschooling for expat children.
The decision which school to attend is essential for an expat kid.

Local Schools

As we have mentioned in our article on international education, a local school can be a good choice for expat kids. Some local private schools (and even some public schools) offer language classes and other programs, designed to help children of foreigners to adapt to their new environment.

For expat families who move abroad for a long-term assignment, or even for good, it might be a good idea to choose a local school over an international school. At local private or public schools, your kids will learn more about the culture, get in touch with non-expat kids, and pick up on the local language rather quickly. On the downside, the transition might be a lot less smooth and, at the end of the day, an international school might be the better choice.

Foreign National Schools

Foreign national schools are especially suitable for expat children who will be spending only a short period of time abroad. These schools (e.g. British, German, French or Japanese) stick to the curriculum of their respective home country. In this way, parents can make sure that their children are taught in their native language and that they don’t have to adapt to yet another educational system when they move.

Unfortunately, foreign national schools cannot be found as often as other school types. In many cases, they are quite small and do not offer the same range of classes and activities as other private schools. However, for children who attend these schools, the repatriation process will be much smoother. In particular older children, especially those who will be staying abroad for a brief time only, can avoid overwhelming culture shock in this manner.

A foreign national school can help make a short-term expat assignment less of a disturbance in an expat child’s life. Parents should make sure that the foreign national school their child enrolls in also offers higher grades. In case their expat assignment is extended, their children will not be forced to switch schools.

Boarding Schools

Some expats choose to send their kids to a boarding school. This makes sense if their new host country may not be a safe environment for their children or if there are only few schooling options available. Together with their children, parents should figure out if a boarding school in their home country or in a country nearby is the right choice for their individual situation.

Most boarding schools enjoy an excellent academic reputation. With their comprehensive study programs and extracurricular activities, they prepare children well for college, university, and an international career. Unfortunately, boarding schools are not an option for all expats. Apart from the fact that they usually require high tuition payments, not all children are ready to attend a boarding school.

Parents should discuss this decision with their children and visit some of the schools in question. After all, not only the academic program is crucial, but the school’s social environment plays a huge role as well. Only if your kids feel ready to attend a boarding school, should you even consider enrolling them.