When a family with school-age children is being moved abroad, why do they need help with their schooling choices? What is so complicated about schooling in other countries? Cartus’ Biggest Challenges survey lists finding appropriate schools as a top challenge for employees who are relocating with children.
From country to country—and sometimes, even within countries (especially confederations such as the United States, Switzerland, and Canada)—academic programs can differ substantially. In addition to obvious factors such as the language used for instruction, it is also common for children to learn at different rates, whether in mathematics, science, or other subjects—and particularly so when they are being moved from one place to another. Specific, targeted intervention via tutoring or supplemental classes is very often recommended to help children reach the same levels as their host country peers.
A new country’s curricula may be unfamiliar
Though this is less an issue for an American going to an American-curriculum school, or a French student going to a French-curriculum school, it can be a big challenge for children coming from countries whose national curriculum is not represented at the host location. Styles of learning and teaching also differ greatly around the world; for example, some cultures emphasize inquiry-based learning, while others emphasize memorization and rote learning. The child may have special education needs or be exceptionally gifted, both of which require attention.
A new school may not understand a child’s academic record
Many schools also struggle to understand the academic records of children from other countries. That’s why it’s recommended that these practical tips be considered:
• engage an education expert who has both home and host expertise;
• consider the child’s academic needs upon repatriation, even while preparing for the outbound transfer; and,
• look for schooling that offers the right fit for the child and where she/he will thrive and do well.
Some service firms may understand something about the destination-location curriculum, but they do not have an understanding of the home location’s curriculum. Organizations and their relocating employees need educational expertise in both the home and the host location. School issues are complicated, so it’s best to rely on the guidance of an education and school placement expert.