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Educational considerations for our children are probably the biggest stumbling block in making an overseas move. What is the best choice for our child? What if my child has a learning or other disability? What do I value in an education? What type of school should we choose if we will be moving frequently?

These are all legitimate concerns and ones that deserve some research time. Many options for schooling exist in most locations. It is important to do the research well before the move in order to determine if your child' needs will be met. For example, while many resources exist in the US for children with disabilities or gifted children, little may be available abroad. Some families place a high value on integrating into the local culture and community and would prefer to have their children attend local public schools. Other families may only be overseas for a brief interval before returning to the US, British or European system and want their children to remain in that very same format so as not to lose a year or be bumped ahead of their age mates.

Most companies/organizations that relocate employees with any frequency will have some literature available on educational institutions in the COA (country of assignment). But it may be useful to lay out some of the options here worth consideration:

  • boarding schools - depending on the COA, and especially in some third world countries, this may be the only choice for families, especially with teenagers.
  • international schools service the expatriate community in many large cities.
  • national or local schools - the teaching language may be that of the country or the colonizing power, such as French in Francophone Africa, Dutch in Surinam or English in Kenya.
  • home schooling - popular with American families, but is growing among Europeans.
  • independent study an increasingly popular option particularly for gifted students as well as those needing extra help or direction in their studies is currently being carried out not only in the US but around the globe.
  • remain in the home country to finish out high school - if your teenager is in his/her last one to two years of secondary education and you have the support systems in place for him/her to remain in the US, this could be the best solution for everyone concerned.

Of course there are many, many variables for any given family and no one can tell you which solution is exactly right for you. Sitting down with your adolescent/s, family members, guidance counselors or other educators will go a long way in determining what will be the best fit for your family.

International Family Transitions: (1) 781-439-8490

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