Monday, 17 June 2013

Kids at International Schools Aren't as Worldly as You Think

ISR wrote a blog about Going International With Children back in May 2011 and they state that international schools are culturally diverse and students can participate in a variety of experiences. In addition, you might be able to get household help cheaply, such as maids, drivers, cooks, and nannies, allowing you to live the high life and save money. They also have an article on Family Friendly Schools.

They caution teachers to ask questions about things such as . . .
  • Medical and dental insurance
  • Childcare
  • School's benefits package such as tuition, insurance, and flights
While it might be true that international schools are diverse, ISR paints a too rosy picture. International schools are actually very homogenous as most of the students come from rich expat families, diplomatic families, are teachers' kids, or rich local families. Money's key. At $20,000 a year for tuition, the average local won't be able to afford it. Especially in poorer countries where that may be two or three times what they make in a year.

In addition, it's a very transient community. Due to the parents' jobs, students tend to move often. It's hard to build long-lasting friendships when 25% to 35% of the students leave within a couple years.

Lastly, living abroad doesn't necessarily mean that you'll make a connection with the local community. Sure you might get bragging rights for having lived abroad, but since English is the medium, it's not very likely that your child will pick up the local language, especially if they're only there for a couple years.

While many people have good experiences, they also might be a bit delusional about what they're getting themselves into. Maybe they want their kids to be fluent in another language (going to an English speaking school isn't going to happen), rub shoulder with rich people, or simply live and travel abroad. Here is some advice from people who have done this.
  • 2xaround has had a bad experience with a school that lied to him as well as barred him for seeing his kids during school. 
  • Beenaround had a totally different experience, but it seems like he is just bragging about all the stuff they've seen and done. 
  • Anonymous states that fitting in is hard since his kids are a minority.
  • Nomad says there are trade-offs involved and you need to do your research.
  • Beck did her dissertation on TCK (third culture kids) and said that many of them feel bullied, depressed, anxious, and are more likely to get a learning / behaviour problem. If your child has a learning disorder, good luck finding a school since many will flat out refuse to accept kids like that. In addition, all that moving around doesn't help since you're constantly having to rebuild your support system.
  • Christina says that you need to get everything in writing before you go so that there's no chance the school will change things on you.
  • WyGal says that their school is hardly giving them any money to relocate and didn't want to pay for all the flights. 
  • The article Local Staff, Parents, and Neighbours as Friends is very insightful about how money impacts friendships. 
In September 2011 in the ISR article Guilt Trips from Home - Taking the Grand Kids Overseas, there's also some good advice.
  • Whiner states that there's a good support system, there's less bullying, but some peopel feel entitled and the kids become spoilt. In addition, international schools often have less supplies and resources than those back home.
  • Elaine seems to brag about her kids and that's probably one reason people go overseas.
  • Kathleen Moore says her son learned to study hard and learn about new cultures. 

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