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Relocating overseas with children: a global mobility manager's guide to help international hires navigate new educational systems

by Edufax, on Sep 21, 2020 1:22:26 PM

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When relocating overseas with children, families are confronted with the international educational system, which spurs a lot of expat questions and concerns.

For example, if there's a different language of instruction in the new country, parents wonder how their children will get used to their new environment and how they can help with homework. But even if the language doesn't change, there will be socio-emotional concerns. How will the children get settled in the new school, will they be able to make new friends, and can they adjust to the new curriculum? It's important to realize the style of education can be very different. If, for instance, we look at the U.S. and the U.K., two English-speaking countries, we see that the first is a lot less traditional and structured than the latter. These differences also matter if children need to return to their home country in a few years. For how will they reintegrate?

Finally, there are practical things international hires will want to know when relocating overseas with children. They need to find appropriate educational solutions in due time. And if they move in the middle of the school year, how should they register children in the school of their choice and settle in?

Briefly put, navigating new educational systems is quite overwhelming. As a global mobility manager, you will want to support families finding their way in unchartered territory. How to go about it? This guide explains the basics!

Settling in: how to help children integrate in the first 30-90 days

  • If families are relocating overseas with children, they might move to a country with a new language of instruction. If that’s the case, make sure the whole family is on board, so they learn the language together. It can be very motivating for children to acquire knowledge in tandem with their parents. The family in question may want to enroll in a pre-departure language course.
  • "What's the best educational solution for our child?" It's a question parents always ask when relocating overseas with children. Online school search tools — some of which have been created by countries' governments — can come in handy. They allow parents to vet a variety of schools from day one. To jumpstart their search, they can use the following list:
1. Public school search tools:

- The Netherlands

- Canada

- The U.S.

2. International schools (based on national educational systems):

- International schools offering the British curriculum (U.K.)

- French schools accredited by the Agence pour l'enseignement français à l'étranger (AEFE) (France)

- Deutsche Auslandsschulen (DAS) network (Germany)

3. International school search tools:

- Certified International Baccalaureate (IB) schools

- Council of International School (CIS) membership directory (CIS is a top international school accrediting body)

Informational organizations:

- Eurydice publishes descriptions of national educational systems

- Nuffic compares foreign educational systems with the Dutch educational system

  • A good preparation is half the battle. Some companies arrange a pre-visit trip to the new location. If parents can bring their children on this trip, they can properly prepare for the international school system they will soon be part of. They can see their (potential) future home, school, and neighborhood playground, which helps children get acquainted with their new life early on.

  • Have a look at the non-academic side of things. If children play sports or make music, parents can look into possibilities to enroll them in extracurricular classes. This will greatly help families relocating overseas with children, as it gives the kids a sense of continuity. It's important to research the options early on, as in some countries, these activities are offered by the school, whereas in others, they're not. In many locations, international schools pay attention to non-academic activities for children to help them integrate.
  • When relocating overseas with children, families should figure out whether there will be curricular gaps. For example, math might be more challenging in the new country. Or, the child's language level may not be up to par. In these cases, it's crucial to bridge the gap — for example, through a pre-departure course. Some are available online for free, others aren't. There are a lot of resources out there, so it's wise to select the option that best suits the child before embarking on a cross-border adventure.
  • A child's integration may be facilitated by newcomer classes, which some schools offer. These classes are specifically designed for children who are new to the country. Some last for 90 days, others can be followed throughout the first year. They tend to make the transition to the new country a lot smoother, so if such a class is available, it's generally an opportunity not to be missed!

What's the best educational solution when relocating overseas with children?

When it comes to finding the most suitable educational solution for children moving abroad, an external education consultancy company can unburden the global mobility manager. Edufax has provided families, employers, and schools with  independent guidance on all educational matters since 1992. Our philosophy: the child always comes first. Contact us to find out how we will go the extra mile for your international hires.

Topics:Educational SolutionsGlobal Mobility

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