Monday 26th October 2009

Expats living in China turn to home schooling for their educational needs.

Recent global economic events have given rise to an increase in the number of expat families who are choosing to educate their children at home as opposed to paying hefty school fees.

Choosing an appropriate place in which to educate their children is a top priority for many expat parents when they make a move overseas. However, it appears that in recent time a new dimension has entered any decision parents make when choosing how best to school their family. Recent reports in China Daily indicate that expats living in China are facing a persistent dilemma when deciding how best to educate their children and are increasingly turning their backs on traditional methods, instead favoring a home school approach.

Traditionally Expats in places such as China generally have two options. They can either choose to educate their children at the international schools available in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, or they can opt for education within a local school environment.

There are a number of international schools available that offer top quality education in an environment within which expat children can speak their own language and mix with other children from similar backgrounds. However, these schools are extremely expensive and unless educational fees are paid by the corporations who recruit expat employees to work overseas, they are generally limited to extremely wealthy members of the expatriate community.

However, the second option, for expats to educate their children in local schools may not be an ideal solution to the problem of where to educate their family. Whilst this offers an affordable option for most, the children attending these schools will be taught solely in Mandarin (with the exception of any language lessons on the curriculum) and will have limited access to children who speak their own language and understand their own culture.

In recent times expatriates in China have begun to respond to this dilemma by choosing a third option, to self educate their children at home. Estherine Chan, administrator of the Shanghai Area Learners Together (SALT), commented on the recent trends: "We have noticed a big increase in the home-schooling population here, and I think it's for several reasons." She progressed on to identify these as reductions in the availability and value of expatriate education packages, long waiting lists for schools, rising costs of international education and increased concerns about the impact of living in a third culture upon a child’s development.

Parents who opt to educate their children via home schooling basically remove their children from any traditional type of educational establishment and choose to take sole control for their education within their own home environment. Home schooling does not necessarily involve parents teaching the children themselves and it is possible to bring in external expertise. However, in the majority of cases it is one of more of the parents who assume the teacher’s role.

Read the full article: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-09/07/content_8661940.htm

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