Picking the right school for your children is one of the main worries of any expat. The good news is that there are many international schools in Shanghai from which to choose. Business is business: the large numbers of expats has inspired the development of schools that specialize in international education and these schools have flourished all around the city.
The first filter should be the location. If you’re very interested in a particular educational center, like a French or German school, if you are one of these nationalities, for example, it’s important to note that these schools are in distant locations compared to more centrally located options. If you don’t have a specific school in mind, the offer of international schools in any area with a high expat population should be ample enough to fulfill your expectations.
The curriculum is another key point to choosing a school. You have to bear in mind what will be the future of your child: will he continue his studies in China or in another country? Be sure to choose the curriculum that fits most appropriately with his future education. Many schools offer a good education but lean towards the educational curriculum of the origin country of the institution.
Pay attention to the teaching of Mandarin. Some schools and parents tend to undervalue the knowledge of this language, since most of the students will not do their university studies in China. It would be a shame to waste a great opportunity to learn a language that is already, and will be more so in the future, a primary tool in any successful professional career. Many schools offer a fully bilingual (English / Mandarin) curriculum.
There are also other factors to bear in mind: number of students per class, extracurricular activities, school’s surroundings, etc. Always ask other foreigners and consult some of the many expats forums so that you can make a educated and well-researched decision.