Expat's Manual

An expatriate education overseas can provide your children with a great start to life and an opportunity to have experiences that their peers in their home country can only ever dream of. Providing their education is approached in the right manner their expatriate education can have a very positive impact on their lives.


Expatriate Education: Getting Off to the Right Start

If you have children at school, it is very important to try and time your move overseas to coincide with the end of the school year. This will be far less disruptive for your child and will minimize the risk that the move will have a negative impact on their educational achievements. In addition to this, if you can start their education at the beginning of the school year in your host country there will be a greater chance that there will be other new starters who are in the same position as your child. This will help them to feel less like an outsider and will provide them access to children who are in a very similar position as themselves.

When relocating you children make sure that you take their school records and books together with a history of what they have been studying. This will assist the children's teachers to understand their strengths and weaknesses and ensure that they provide learning experiences suited to your child's needs.

As a parent it is important that you try and see the world through the eyes of your child. Starting a new school in a strange country will be extremely daunting for the majority of children and you need to do everything you can to guide and support them through this process. Here are some things to bear in mind:

  1. Grades are not always the most important thing when it comes to expatriate education:
    When your child starts a new school in their host country try to avoid putting instant pressure on them to come top of the class. The immediate concerns for your child will pertain to coping with an unfamiliar environment, fitting in with the other children and finding their way around a strange environment. Talk to them about these things and help them to plan how they will approach the first few days. Worry about grades later.
  2. Discuss your child’s experiences with them on a daily basis:
    Clear time on a daily basis to discuss your child’s day at school and learn about the challenges and experiences they have faced. If your child is unhappy or confused about issues relating to their new educational environment try and identify these and talk them through. If you feel that an issue is becoming serious, such as bullying, isolation or poor behavior, take the time to visit the school and discuss your concerns with the teacher. Together you may be able to solve any problems before they become more serious. You may also wish to encourage your children to discuss their experiences with other children who are going through similar experiences. Ori-and-Rick.net is an online resource that is aimed at encouraging children to share their experiences abroad. They can ask questions, share stories and submit contributions that may help other children.
  3. Find a buddy:
    Speak to the school in advance and request that a child of similar age and background (if available) can act as a buddy for your child during their first couple of weeks at school. The buddy will hopefully extent friendship to your child and will offer them an immediate sense of security. They will also be able to share their knowledge and experience to guide your child through the school processes and procedures and help them to become familiar with the school environment.
  4. Organize a party:
    After your child has experienced a few weeks at school and has had the opportunity to make some new friends hold a party or organize a day out to allow your child to socialize with their new classmates out of the expat education environment. If there are not many children from the same background as your child this can be an ideal opportunity to share your culture with your child’s friends and hopefully enable them to develop their friendships.
  5. Encourage your child to participate in extra curricular-activities:
    Through attending extra-curricular activities outside the classroom environment your child will gain an opportunity to make new friends. If there is already a sport or activity that they are good at this will also allow them to build some confidence and win some respect among their peer group.

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