Along with the usual stress and worry of re-locating internationally, moving your children and finding an adequate school situation can be a challenge. There are some straight-forward steps every parent can take to keeping their child's records in working order and preparing to find a new school.
By keeping your child's records in electronic form you are able to preserve documents indefinitely and easily move them internationally. Each child should have a virtual portfolio with sections on:
Health (inoculations, allergies, etc.),
Education Records (transcript, education history), and
Identification (birth certificate, passport).
These files should be updated semi-annually. Also maintain information on how to obtain official paper copies of all documents. Note that if these files are in another language then the country you are moving to, you will need a certified translated copy.
- Determine what kind of school you are looking for: Would you prefer your children to attend the closest public school and integrate with local life? Does your child need to complete specific courses or have special needs? Is it important to you to find a private school? A religious affiliated school? An international school that caters to your child's nationality? Is there a language requirement?
Answering these questions first will help you narrow the search and find exactly what you are looking for.
- Internet Search: Do a simple internet search to find what schools are in the area. Discover what kind of facilities are available. You can also find parenting and expat forums where you can get a better feel for the education opportunities and get recommendations. If done early enough, this can help you make choices about exactly where to live as well.
- Contact schools: Once you have a short list of facilities, contact them directly and get general information about the school, find out the costs, services provided (particularly for expat kids), the curriculum, extracurricular's, and expectations. If possible, it is extremely valuable to visit the schools before commiting. This is your chance to interview the schools and find the best fit for you and your child.
- Integrate: Any move can be traumatic for a child, so do your best to keep your own attitude upbeat and excited. Inform them of the most exciting aspects of the move and their new school. Allow them to ask questions and make decisions so this is their choice as well.