Living abroad with your family sure sounds exciting, doesn’t it? The very possibility of new adventures in a foreign land can feel almost impossible to resist. In fact, more and more American families are taking that leap abroad, and they’re doing so successfully.
So, how do they do it? How do families with school-age children make the transition overseas? Clearly, it is not a decision to be made lightly.
What kind of school will be the best fit for your children? Will their diploma be recognized in other places around the globe; how difficult will the transition be from their American education to one overseas; could your children receive a good education outside the United States, or would it be better for them to first complete their education in their homeland?
Thankfully, there are excellent educational opportunities out there for your children, so those dreams of living abroad really can be realized. Before you start packing those bags, though, it’s important to be thorough in your research. There might be plenty of educational options, but not all of them are created equal.
One of the most important factors to consider with your children’s education is a school’s qualifications and accreditations. If a school does not have the proper qualifications, your child could be left with a diploma that means virtually nothing to other schools and universities elsewhere in the world.
Be sure to enroll your children in a school where credits are transferrable, and diplomas are not only recognized but highly regarded. The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a program that embodies these very needs and is well-accepted by schools across the world.
There are three main educational options available overseas:
Local schools are a possible choice for families planning a long-term residency in one location. Placing your children in a local school, facilitates complete immersion within their local environment. Transitioning into the local school system can be difficult at first, as your children adjust to both a new language and culture, so it is not suitable for all children. If you do choose a local school, find out first whether the diploma earned there will be recognized elsewhere.
A very popular alternative that gets around the language barrier is to use an International school. They give children some exposure to the culture of the country in which you are living, thus widening their experience and building their self-confidence. The transition from their previous school should be quite smooth, as these establishments strive to meet the educational needs of expat families and provide qualifications similar to those available in their native country. The IB is often offered through international schools, giving an added, well-regarded benefit to those who attend.
Abu Dhabi has a number of international schools that cater to expat families. These schools observe the IB and other curricula. If you are interested in their programs, it’s best to start the admission process early, as spaces are quickly taken.
Hong Kong international schools are another excellent option to consider for your children. These schools are aligned with the IB, provide two graduating paths (International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, or American High School Diploma, or both), and a 90% acceptance rate to students’ first choice schools.
Homeschooling is another popular option among families living abroad. The beauty of this method of education is that you can literally travel anywhere without your children’s studies being interrupted. If the IB program is a must for your children’s education, this may soon become an option for homeschooling families via online lessons. Be on the lookout for the change, as it is likely coming soon.
Study overseas can be a wonderfully enriching experience when prepared for and researched correctly. While there are certainly many educational choices to filter through, it is likely that only one or two will truly be a great match for your child. Whether it be the local, international or homeschool route, an adventure most certainly awaits.