Considering an overseas move with children? Grab a copy of Expat Education: An Expat’s Guide to Choosing a School Overseas by Carole Hallett Mobbs. Wherever you’re at on your expat journey, this book will help you understand the many education related concerns of moving your child to a foreign country.
Expat Education — The Kinds of Schools You’ll Find Living Abroad
The author speaks from her personal journey — 12 years parenting in Japan, Germany and South Africa. Her book provides an overview of key education terms and models you’re likely to come across while parenting abroad.
First, you’ll learn the ups and downs of “local schools” from an expat perspective. (Also known as public, national or state schools, depending on what country you’re in.) From there, the author demystifies the many faces of “international schools.” These schools might be bilingual schools. They might be British, American or Canadian Schools. French and German Schools. And many other individual national systems exported to foreign countries. You’ll then learn the different degree options and university entrance exams those institutional paths are tied to. International Baccalaureate, American High School Diploma, GCSE, and much more.
Education and Schooling within the Context of Your Expat Life
Next up, examining these options through critical lenses — your child’s age, grade level, personality style, learning challenges, foreign language proficiency, and many other personal metrics. One of the things I appreciated most? Framing these options within the context of your path as an expat. There’s no one right answer. Your needs and goals may change with time, and where you’re living. Looking at education within this bigger picture enables you to balance the unpredictabilities of your expat life.
Stories shared by patrons of Carole’s website bring life to these different options. They highlight the reality that every family is different. It’s up to you, as expat parents, to do your homework. Even more, these mini interviews balance the author’s first person narrative. Both Carole’s experience and those of many of these other expats couldn’t be more different than my family’s time here in Spain. I appreciated both how and why some of these parents made the decisions that they did. The trade-offs that came with those choices. And what they might do differently if they were to do it all over again. There’s so much we don’t know starting down our expat path. These stories give you the chance to see your family in their situation and maybe learn something from their challenges.
Schools, Education and Expat Life– A Complex Issue Made Personal for You
To be clear, this resource is meant to serve as an introduction and overview of the many factors to consider for your child’s education as an expat. The topic is far too complex for any one book to bestow you with a personalized expat education plan.
Imagine the sheer volume of permutations when you cross each country’s education laws, locally available options, and your child’s and your family’s unique circumstances. Dizzying to think about, right? And yet, within this labyrinth, this guide does a great job distilling those permutations into digestible, practical, personally relevant points of self inquiry. Better yet, the author includes a list of vetted resources to turn to for further investigation.
Another plus for me, looking at your schooling decisions within the greater context of living abroad. Foreign language, your kids social life, special education, and much more. Having now parented two school aged boys in Spain for three years, the connection between their educational environment and psychological adaptation seems obvious. But that wasn’t always so. It’s clear Carole’ recognizes that education decisions embrace more than just academic success.
Finally, this guide to choosing schools overseas also addresses the impact of repatriation on your child’s educational path. Her family’s recent return to their native UK almost seemed like their hardest move yet. I would never have thought returning back to your native country could be so challenging. And yet, being right in the midst of that process as I write, I’m learning that going “home” isn’t as easy as you’d think it would be from a schooling perspective!
The Right Questions to Ask When Choosing a School
I’ll admit, as ‘expats by choice,’ reading about the realities of what some families must go through when they have little to no say in where they live or when they move left me feeling fairly overwhelmed. Yet from just our comparatively short stint living abroad — in a place completely of our choosing — I can appreciate the food for thought Carole puts in front of you.
It’s clear to me now that before we moved to Spain, when I was madly investigating everything under the sun, I had no idea what questions to ask when it came to interviewing school options abroad. It’s hard to know whether we would have done anything differently. But I can tell you that my family learned the hard way what can happen when your child’s school is not a good fit.
Whether you’re moving overseas for a one year adventure or setting off on a career driven, long term life change, you’ll be on much more solid footing for having read such well curated information from someone who’s really been there.
Expat Education: An Expat’s Guide to Choosing a School Overseas is available in on Amazon in both paperback and kindle.