You're Relocating? Don't Forget About the Kids!

  • Thoughts on Education when you're on the move with your children....

    For relocating families, getting the schooling piece of the puzzle right is absolutely critical; if children enroll in a school that's not a good fit, if they don't adapt to their curriculum or classmates, or if they embark on a course of study that makes the next transition difficult, the entire assignment may be compromised. With this in mind, here are just a couple of suggestions of things to think about when you're relocating your children:

    How long is your assignment? Just as important: Where do you think you're going afterwards--home or on another assignment?

    For many families, long range planning for a student should be as high a priority as finding the right-fit school for the immediate term and may well dictate the school they choose for this next step. So, some things to think about if you plan to repatriate to your home country, for example:

    • How will you maintain your child's native language--not only his/her ability to speak it, but also his/her ability to read and write it?
    • When you return home, what grade/year will your child enter, and will there be any obstacles to this? For example, if you are returning to England, your child cannot enter Year 11 if s/he has missed year 10, because the GCSE program is a two-year block. Likewise, an IB diploma program begun in one school should, ideally, be completed in that school, since IB programs are not identical and not necessarily transferable.
    • If your child will be going "home" to university, have you checked to make sure that the credentials--certificates, diplomas and coursework completed on assignment--will be acknowledged by your home country university system? And if you are counting on a national's tuition rate, have you checked that it will still apply if the student has been outside the country for a couple of years?

    In terms of selecting a good-fit school for your child while on assignment, remember that this is a very personal decision, and one that needs to feel right:

    • Be sure to visit any schools you are considering, if at all possible. A school may have a very different look and feel online than it does when you actually visit, and you want to avoid unfortunate surprises.
    • When you visit a school, don't be shy about asking lots of questions. You want to learn as much about the school as possible, and this is your opportunity to do so. If you are interviewing at a private school, remember that the interview is a two-way event; it's not just about you wanting to have your child accepted, but also about you being sure that the school will be a good fit for your child.
    • Rely on your instincts as much as the information you gather from friends, colleagues and online reviews. No one knows your child as well as you do, and a school that is a good fit or a bad fit for one child may offer a completely different experience for a different child. While it's good to know "inside" information from colleagues, for example, keep it in perspective as you formulate your own opinion.
    • When visiting a school, explore the specific programs and opportunities that will be important to your child as s/he makes the transition--special needs support, English language support, new student integration, the robotics program, etc. If you're looking at particular courses or academic programs (E.g. an IB program or US AP courses), ask about the process whereby a student arriving from another school can access that program, and be sure that you haven't missed any deadlines.

    And now that the relocation is underway and the transition is beginning:

    • Remember that your child may need some time to acclimate, and don't let your own anxiety over his/her adjustment be another thing for him/her to manage! Give him/her time to get to know teachers, classmates and coursework, and try not to push too hard for immediate signs of him/her feeling settled. If s/he's really not settling in, you will know.
    •  If you see clear signs that your child is not adjusting to a new school, begin by tapping the resources at your immediate disposal. Talk to your child's teacher, guidance counselor or school head, and see what kind of support can be offered. And don't be shy about following up to be sure that ideas are being acted upon.
    • If the school can't offer what your child needs, think about resources from outside the school and how they might be added to your toolbox.
    • If it becomes undeniably clear that you chose a bad-fit school, begin exploring other options sooner rather than later.

    And as a final note, it may be helpful to remember that every parent relocating a child feels some anxiety about the process, and often a lot of guilt, so try to keep those feelings in perspective as you move forward. The opportunity to experience different schools--to say nothing of different countries and cultures--can be an unsurpassed gift. Approach it as an adventure and encourage your kids to do the same.

    Elizabeth Sawyer, CEO
    Bennett Schoolplacement Worldwide, Inc.

You're Relocating? Don't Forget About the Kids!

  • Thoughts on Education when you're on the move with your children....

    For relocating families, getting the schooling piece of the puzzle right is absolutely critical; if children enroll in a school that's not a good fit, if they don't adapt to their curriculum or classmates, or if they embark on a course of study that makes the next transition difficult, the entire assignment may be compromised. With this in mind, here are just a couple of suggestions of things to think about when you're relocating your children:

    How long is your assignment? Just as important: Where do you think you're going afterwards--home or on another assignment?

    For many families, long range planning for a student should be as high a priority as finding the right-fit school for the immediate term and may well dictate the school they choose for this next step. So, some things to think about if you plan to repatriate to your home country, for example:

    • How will you maintain your child's native language--not only his/her ability to speak it, but also his/her ability to read and write it?
    • When you return home, what grade/year will your child enter, and will there be any obstacles to this? For example, if you are returning to England, your child cannot enter Year 11 if s/he has missed year 10, because the GCSE program is a two-year block. Likewise, an IB diploma program begun in one school should, ideally, be completed in that school, since IB programs are not identical and not necessarily transferable.
    • If your child will be going "home" to university, have you checked to make sure that the credentials--certificates, diplomas and coursework completed on assignment--will be acknowledged by your home country university system? And if you are counting on a national's tuition rate, have you checked that it will still apply if the student has been outside the country for a couple of years?

    In terms of selecting a good-fit school for your child while on assignment, remember that this is a very personal decision, and one that needs to feel right:

    • Be sure to visit any schools you are considering, if at all possible. A school may have a very different look and feel online than it does when you actually visit, and you want to avoid unfortunate surprises.
    • When you visit a school, don't be shy about asking lots of questions. You want to learn as much about the school as possible, and this is your opportunity to do so. If you are interviewing at a private school, remember that the interview is a two-way event; it's not just about you wanting to have your child accepted, but also about you being sure that the school will be a good fit for your child.
    • Rely on your instincts as much as the information you gather from friends, colleagues and online reviews. No one knows your child as well as you do, and a school that is a good fit or a bad fit for one child may offer a completely different experience for a different child. While it's good to know "inside" information from colleagues, for example, keep it in perspective as you formulate your own opinion.
    • When visiting a school, explore the specific programs and opportunities that will be important to your child as s/he makes the transition--special needs support, English language support, new student integration, the robotics program, etc. If you're looking at particular courses or academic programs (E.g. an IB program or US AP courses), ask about the process whereby a student arriving from another school can access that program, and be sure that you haven't missed any deadlines.

    And now that the relocation is underway and the transition is beginning:

    • Remember that your child may need some time to acclimate, and don't let your own anxiety over his/her adjustment be another thing for him/her to manage! Give him/her time to get to know teachers, classmates and coursework, and try not to push too hard for immediate signs of him/her feeling settled. If s/he's really not settling in, you will know.
    •  If you see clear signs that your child is not adjusting to a new school, begin by tapping the resources at your immediate disposal. Talk to your child's teacher, guidance counselor or school head, and see what kind of support can be offered. And don't be shy about following up to be sure that ideas are being acted upon.
    • If the school can't offer what your child needs, think about resources from outside the school and how they might be added to your toolbox.
    • If it becomes undeniably clear that you chose a bad-fit school, begin exploring other options sooner rather than later.

    And as a final note, it may be helpful to remember that every parent relocating a child feels some anxiety about the process, and often a lot of guilt, so try to keep those feelings in perspective as you move forward. The opportunity to experience different schools--to say nothing of different countries and cultures--can be an unsurpassed gift. Approach it as an adventure and encourage your kids to do the same.

    Elizabeth Sawyer, CEO
    Bennett Schoolplacement Worldwide, Inc.