Friday, 20 December 2013

Guest Blogger Series: Introducing…Sophie Jenson

Our latest guest blogger, Sophie Jenson fills us in on some important considerations for expat education.

Three Reasons Why Expat Parents Choose Boarding School

Congratulations! You’ve just got that brand new dream job or promotion you’ve been aiming for. The only thing is, your new job is abroad, perhaps in a country with a very different language and culture than you and your child are accustomed to.

You’re faced with the daunting task of relocating to a new country, which has all the stresses of a domestic move with added logistical and red-tape hurdles. Not only that, but if you’re a parent, you’ll need to minimise disruption to their schooling.

Boarding schools in the UK have always been a popular choice with expat British parents, and they’re rapidly growing in numbers. If you’re an expat or soon-to-be expat parent, there are three convincing reasons why a British boarding school could be the best choice for your child.

Ensure Your Child Has the Best Academic Options

Boarding School Students celebrate their A-Level results. Image via 

Although education is about far more than exam results, those vital GCSE and A-Level results are something that every parent considers very carefully when choosing a school for their child.

As an expat parent, the subject of which qualifications your child will be working towards suddenly becomes more complex.

Depending on where you’re emigrating to, your child might be able to study towards GCSEs, A-Levels, the International Baccalaureate (IB) or, if they’re at an American School, SAT tests. The IB is particularly popular with international schools, and is taught in 2,464 schools worldwide

In some locations like Hong Kong, which have large expat communities, you’ll have a wide choice of schools. However, in other places you may find that your choice is much more limited.

What does this mean for your child? If your child is ready to specialise at sixth form level then, despite being a well-regarded qualification, the IB might not be the best choice. It’s compulsory for students to take a broad range of subjects, including literature, a foreign language, a humanities subject or business, science and mathematics.

So if your child knows they want to study medicine at university, for example, and wants to focus on science to achieve that goal, traditional A-Levels may fulfil their needs better. At a UK boarding school your child will be able to choose from the most well-regarded GCSEs and A-Level subjects, taught by some of the brightest teaching talent in the country.

Reduce the Stress of Moving for Your Child

Packing for school. Photo via jessicahtam
Anyone who has ever moved house knows that it’s stressful. Relocating has been consistently ranked as a significantly stressful life event. This is only amplified when you’re moving countries, especially when you’re moving to the other side of the world.

Naturally, this stress is also felt by your child, who will find themselves in an unfamiliar culture, perhaps in country where they don’t speak the language, leaving behind friends and family and having to settle into a new school. Deciding to send your child to boarding can help to cut down on some of this stress.

If your child starts school before you move, they will be in an environment that is focused entirely on their learning and personal development, rather than trying to do their homework amidst the inevitable chaos of a household in transit.

They also won’t have to deal with the difficulties of adapting to what might be a radically different culture, again meaning that more of their focus and energy is likely to be free to put into studying and developing extracurricular interests.

Give Your Child a Stable Social Network

When you think back to your own school days, what are some of your happiest memories? Chances are they involve your school friends, some of whom you may still be friends with now.

This social aspect, giving your child a chance to build a lasting network of relationships that will support them personally and professionally in later life, is a vital part of any well-rounded education.

Friendships made at school can last for life. Image via
International schools, by their very nature, tend to have a high population of children from expat homes. Whilst some people are long-term expats, many only work abroad for a couple of years. This results in student body that can be very diverse, yet also shifting.

This means that your child’s friendship group could be more unsettled than at a boarding school and that your child will have a scattered friendship group after they leave secondary school to progress to university and their career.

This effect is multiplied if your professional life means that you are likely to live in several different international locations during your child’s school life.

In contrast, a boarding school offers a stable environment where your child can develop lasting friendships. It also gives your child the chance to maintain relationships with people they are close to in the UK. They can spend weekends with grandparents, aunts, or uncles, or with the families of their existing friends.

This gives them a vital chance to maintain these important bonds, especially if they are planning on joining you abroad during their school holidays.

About the Author

Sophie Jenson has worked as a freelance writer and blogger for over five years, and has written for an incredibly wide range of websites, blogs and publications. Her areas of expertise include business, education, travel, technology, finance and sports. She tweets @Sophie_Jenson

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