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Global Education Explorer Articles
  • Country Specific Articles
    • Attending a local school in india

        This American family sent their daughter to a local school in India… hear more about their experiences, including some very funny stories!

        See a blog post on the same family.

    • Back to School - German Style

        by Stacey Walz

        in Women Around Town

        Learn about going to school in Germany, everything from house shoes and snack boxes to zuckertutens!

        Click here to read the article!

        Short excerpt

        “Well, how are you doing?” my friend, Anne, asked as I entered the main lobby of the Dresden International School. She had tears in her eyes, too. It was the first day of school for our children and I knew it would be emotional. I had cried that morning to my husband, telling him that I would miss our children, Riley, 8, and Maggie, 6, my little traveling buddies. It’s funny how moms are…when our kids drive us crazy, we think, “I can’t wait until school starts.” Then when school starts, we are filled with mixed emotions. During the summer, I enjoyed their company, grateful that they gave me a reason to explore our new European city, asking me each day: “Ma, what are we going to do today?” I was going to miss them.

    • Special Education in India

        Click here to view as it appeared in Mobility Magazine.

        by Krishna Ramesh, School Choice International

        Published in Mobility Magazine, March, 2009
        The Life of a Child With Special Needs In India

        Here I am a little boy who is also a bundle of joy. Some people feel I am hard to understand. Some think of me as a boy lost in his own world!

        Namaste! My name is Krishna. I live in Ahmedabad, India with my parents and younger sister. I love to play, learn and have fun with my friends. I make my teacher's and therapist's day with a smile. By the way, I go to a school for children with special needs.

        I wonder why I have special needs. My younger sister, Aashna does not have them. I asked my parents why I have special needs but they said they were not really sure what happened and when it happened. Something must have happened before I was born or after I was born or maybe when I was being born. Why me? The doctor told my parents that my brain was damaged and it does not receive all the messages being told.

        I want you all to meet my school teacher Ms. Kavita.

        Namaste! My name is Kavita, Krishna's teacher at school. Krishna is an adorable boy with big brown eyes, long dark eyelashes, thick brown hair, and a beautiful smile. He is a joy to behold. He has a sweetness about him that is very endearing, and it is hard to resist the impulse to cuddle and kiss him. Krishna has difficulty initiating and keeping a conversation going so we support him all the time. He is learning to make eye contact all the time with the person he is having conversation with. His visual, motor and processing issues make harder for him to make eye contact but we are working on it at school and his parents are working on the same at home. He is doing much better at waiting for his turn during a conversation. It is easier for him to express his feelings when he has continuous support from an adult during conversation.

        At school his teachers and therapists support him throughout the day. In addition to academics, he is learning functional daily living skills at school. His day at school is structured and tailored to his individual needs. When he began school, he ran out of the classroom a lot. Now, he is able to sit, concentrate, focus and participate. We are very pleased with his progress.

        The Rehabilitation Council of India

        In India, the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) plays a huge role in helping people with special needs, establishing standards for programs serving individuals who require assistance, and regulating the delivery of these services. The Rehabilitation Council of India is located in New Delhi, the capital city of India.

        Rehabilitation Council of India
        B-22, Qutab Institutional Area
        New Delhi - 110 016
        Tel: 91-11-26532816 , 26534287, 26532384, 26532408, 26511618
        Fax: 91-11-26534291

        E-mail: rehabstd@nde.vsnl.net.in; rehabstd@ndc.vsnl.net.in

        During the year 1986, The Rehabilitation Council of India was established as a registered society by the Ministry of Social Welfare. Before RCI was in existence, large government hospitals in large cities offered assessment, therapies and specialized services for people with special needs. It was not possible for poor people in rural areas to go back and forth so they did not benefit from the services available.

        In 1992, the Parliament enacted The Rehabilitation Council of India Act. As a result, on June 22, 1993 RCI became a Statutory Body. In the year 2000, the RCI Act was amended with the intention of providing an incentive for more people to enter the field of rehabilitation and special education. The Council carries heavy responsibility on its shoulders due to the Act. All universities, institutions, government and non-government organizations need prior approval from RCI for starting courses (either certificate, diploma, or degree, post graduate diploma or post graduate degrees) in the field of rehabilitation and/or special education. RCI is responsible for setting standards, for the standardization of curriculum as well as for promoting research in field of special education.

        Professionals and personnel who are found serving children with special needs who do not possess qualifications recognized by RCI can be prosecuted. A Central Rehabilitation Register of qualified professionals and personnel in the area of rehabilitation and special education is maintained by RCI.

        RCI does not offer any direct rehabilitation services, employment or financial help to individuals with special needs. People who need services may contact the Ministry of Social Welfare or Ministry of Disability Welfare/Commissioner of Disability in their state or:

        The Secretary
        Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
        Government of India
        Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi - 110 001

        Comparating Special Needs Treatment in India and America

        If Krishna and his family were in the USA how would his life be different?

        Under the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 in the United States, (also known as IDEA '04), students with disabilities have equal right to free and appropriate public education (FAPE) just like all other students. The other key feature of this act is educating these students within the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). In other words, special education services are not automatically delivered in any particular manner or setting, but every student should receive services tailored to his or her individual needs through an Individual Educational Plan (IEP). Each child is offered unique services, to the extent possible, within the context of the general education classroom, curriculum, and mainstream students. It is important to bring services to the child with special needs instead of taking the child to services.

        Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, parents have right to choose the appropriate educational setting for their child. If parents are not satisfied with current education and services their child is receiving then they have a right to request a private school setting and seek tuition reimbursement from district of their home location who would then be responsible for private school tuition, in a case where it is proven that the public school cannot provide a free and appropriate education to the child. The NCLB is also includes greater accountability for results, greater local control and flexibility, and an emphasis on providing services based on scientific research.

        The Directory of National Information sources on Disabilities, also known as NIS is published by the U.S. Department of Education which provides information, referral, or direct services relating to disabilities. Information about this directory can be obtained from the following source:

        National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Services
        400 Maryland Avenue, SW
        Washington DC - 20202
        Tel: (800) 346-2742

        As a result of the various Federal legislative acts governing special education in the United States, which are interpreted and implemented differently by states and local school districts, there is a great deal of variation in the kinds of education that a child with a similar disability may receive in the United States, and different diagnoses are often addressed with multiple approaches even within a very narrow geographic area. The decentralized approach in the United States which allows for considerable parental input, allows parents to become experts in their child's conditions and to choose the method they feel will best serve their child, making a mid-course adjustment when they feel that is appropriate.

        The opportunity to challenge the system can be expensive for local school districts which have difficulty budgeting when they don't know whether children will be educated within their district or they will be supporting costly private schools. The availability of myriad choices can be overwhelming to parents, and the process of dealing with the public bureaucracy is undoubtedly frustrating. However, the choices available in the US and the transparency within the system push research to the cutting edge, constantly producing new methods and programs to assist children to be the best they can be.

        While India has come a long way since 1986 when RCI was established, and standards have been set, maintained and regulated, the curriculum for trained special educators is uniform. This brings up the floor, and ensures that children requiring assistance receive a certain level of treatment, by qualified and certified professionals. And, Krishna, for example, has progressed considerably given the services he has received.

        But one may wonder whether absent the opportunity for parents to push the system, for competition between schools to develop, and for other market mechanisms to move the field forward, progress takes place in India at the rate that this occurs at present in the United States. However, India is developing rapidly, and a great deal of growth has occurred in this field in a short time. It would not be surprising if, within the near future, resources and opportunities within the special education field would match or outstrip those available in Western countries.

        Special Needs Resources in India

        Following is the list of special education resources in India. These institutions are known for their continuous contribution in the vast and complex field of special education and rehabilitation. If you are visiting India, these are the institutions worth visiting.

        NEW DELHI - THE CAPITAL CITY OF INDIA

        Action for Autism
        Pocket 7 and 8
        Jasola Vihar
        New Delhi - 110 025
        Tel: (011) 65347422/40540991/92
        Fax: (011) 40540993
        E-mail: actionforautism@gmail.com; actionforautism@gmail.com
        Website: http://www.autism-india.org

        Jan Madhyam
        148 Zamrudpur
        New Delhi 110 048
        Tel: (011) 26472535
        Fax: (011) 26472535
        E-mail: jmadhyam@ndf.vsnl.net.in; imadhavam@yahoo.com

        Muskaan
        Sector B, Pocket 2, Vasant Kunj
        New Delhi - 110 070
        Tel: (011) 41761873/41761874
        E-mail: muskaan32@gmail.com

        Salashish Society for Spastic Children
        174-E, Pocket 1, Mayur Vihar - 1
        New Delhi-110091
        Tel: (011) 22757202/22755666

        Spastic Society of Northern India
        2, Balbir Saxena Marg
        Hauz Khas
        New Delhi -110 016
        Tel: (011) 26966331/26864714/26569107

        Tamanna Special School
        D-6 Street
        Vasant Vihar
        New Delhi - 110 057
        Tel: (011) 26143853/26151572

        YMCA Institute for Special Education
        Jai Singh Road
        New Delhi- 110 001
        Tel: (011) 24354061, 24359405
        Fax: (011) 23746035/32
        E-mail: ymcand@del3.vsnl.net.in

        GUJARAT STATE

        Apang Manav Mandal
        Opp. Ahmedabad Management Association
        Vastrapur
        Ahmedabad - 380 054
        Tel: (079) 26302643/26308156

        A NGO working for the education and rehabilitation of physically disabled children.

        Behra Munga Shala (The school for deaf and mute)
        Near Times of India
        Opp. Bata show room
        Ahmedabad - 380 009
        Tel: (079) 26586138

        Blind People's Association
        Jagdish Patel Chowk
        Dr. Vikram Sarabhai Marg
        Vastrapur
        Ahmedabad - 380 009
        Tel: (079) 26303346/26305082
        Email: blinabad1@bsnl.in
        Website: http://www.bpaindia.org

        B M Institute of Mental Health
        Near Nehru Bridge
        Ashram Road
        Navrangpura
        Ahmedabad - 380 009
        Tel: (079) 26578257

        Prerna Special Education Center
        Delhi Public School
        Bopal Square
        Near Bopal Railway Crossing
        Ahmedabad - 380 058
        Tel: (02717)230521/571/240
        Fax: (02717) 235088
        E-mail: dpsahd@rediffmail.com
        Website: http://calorxdps.org

        Setu Developmental Intervention Center (For Early Intervention Services)
        17, Goyal Row Houses
        Goyal Intercity complex
        Near Drive-In Cinema
        Ahmedabad - 380 054
        Tel: (079) 32918222
        E-mail: contact@setuindia.org

        KARNATAKA STATE

        Naseema Institute of Speech and Hearing
        11, AVS Compound 80ft Road, 4th Block
        Koramangala
        Bangalore - 560 034
        Tel: (080) 65417735/4150 7099
        E-mail: naishinstitute@mail.com

        Samvaad Institute of Speech & Hearing
        4/1, Opposite Sumangali Seva Ashram
        Cholanayakanahalli
        R.T. Nagar Post
        Bangalore - 560 032
        Cell: (+91) 9845456652

        Shree Ramana Maharishi Academy For the Blind (SRMAB)
        CA - 1B, 3rd Cross, 3rd Phase

        J P Nagar
        Bangalore -560 078
        Tel: (080) 25681076/26588045
        Fax: (080) 26580325
        E-mail: srmab1969@yahoo.com
        Website: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
        http://www.srmab.org.in

        The Spastics Society of Karnataka
        No 31, 5th Cross, Off 5th Main
        Indira Nagar
        Bangalore - 560 038
        Tel: (080) 5281831/5280935
        Fax: 5286129
        E-mail: spastics_society@vsnl.net
        Website: http://www.spasticssocietyofkarnataka.org

        MAHARASHTRA STATE
        MUMBAI CITY (FORMERLY BOMBAY)

        All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AIPMR)
        K. Khadye Marg
        Haji Ali
        Mahalaxmi
        Mumbai 400 034
        Tel: (022) 24935035/24964331/32/40/41
        Fax: (022) 24962737
        E-mail: aiipmr@vsnl.com,bd.athani@nic.in,aiipmr.msw@nic.in,
        Website: http://aiipmr.gov.in

        Bombay Institution for Deaf and Mutes
        33 Nesbit Road
        Mazgaon
        Mumbai 400 010
        Tel: (022) 23720216/23713144
        E-mail: bombayinstitutionfordeaf@yahoo.com

        Children's Orthopedic Hospital
        Haji Ali
        Tulsiwadi
        Mumbai - 400 034
        Tel: (022) 24920030

        Dilkhush Special School (DSS)
        Opp. Palm Grove Hotel
        Juhu Road
        Juhu
        Mumbai 400049
        Tel: (022) 26151304
        Fax: (022) 26188688
        Email: dilkhushjuhu@yahoo.com hemantat@hotmail.com

        Helen Keller Institute for the Deaf and Blind
        Municipal Secondary School, South Wing, Ground Floor,
        N. M. Joshi Marg
        Near 'S' Bridge
        Bayculla (West)
        Mumbai - 400 011
        Tel: (022) 20387052/23019215
        Fax: (022) 23018211
        Email:hkibind@hathway.com

        S.P.J. Sadhana School for the Mentally Challenged
        Dr. Rosendo Ribeiro Children's Complex'
        Sophia Campus
        Bhulabhai Desai Road
        Mumbai 400 026
        Tel: (022) 23510853/23517913
        Email: spjsadhana@gmail.com

        TAMILNADU STATE (SOUTH INDIA)

        Little Flower Convent Higher Secondary School for the Blind,
        127, G.N. Chetty Road
        Chennai - 600 006
        Tel: (044) 8269618

        Little Flower Convent Higher Secondary School for the Deaf
        127, G.N. Chetty Road
        Chennai - 600 006
        Tel: (044) 8265739

        Spastics Society of Tamilnadu Centre for Special Education
        Taramani Road T T Ti
        Tharamani
        Chennai -600 113
        Tel: (044) 22541651

        The United Physically Handicapped School
        Sathy Main Road, (Via S.S.Kulam)
        Kurumbapalayam
        Coimbatore - 641 007
        Tel: (422) 2667578/2667636
        Email: tuphschool@yahoo.co.in

        WEST BENGAL STATE
        KOLKATA CITY (FORMERLY CALCUTTA)

        Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy

        P 35/1, Taratolla Road
        Kolkata 700 088
        Tel: (033) 24013488/24010240/2401 2347/2401 2348
        Fax: (033) 24014177
        E-mail: ssei@vsnl.com
        Website: http://www.iicpindia.org/

        Manovikas Kendra Rehabilitation & Research Institute for the Handicapped

        482, Mududah, Plot I-24, Sec. J
        Metropolitan Bypass
        Kolkata - 700 078
        Tel: (033) 24423137
        Email: mvkendra@cal2.vsnl.net.in

        "MINDS AND SOULS" the integrated day care cum residential school
        Minds and Souls Rehabilitation and Research Foundation (MNS)
        114A/B, Ashutosh Mukherjee Road, 2nd Floor,
        Kolkata - 700 025
        Tel: (033) 32968098/32968099
        Website: http://www.mindsandsouls.org/mns-school.html

        Other Resources:
        There are few books and movies available in India that are available to help students to understand people with special needs and their world better. The following American resources are very inspiring and useful for Indian professionals.

        BOOKS

        1) Dibs in Search of Self, by Virginia M. Axline
        This is a therapeutic tale that talks about success of play therapy with an emotionally disturbed boy.
        2) For the Love of Ann, by James Copeland
        A family story about a girl with autism and her parents.
        3) Thinking Goes to School: Piaget's Theory in Practice, by Hans G. Furth,
        and Harry Wachs
        A collection of activities and games which proposes to show how children can be prepared to develop to their full potential.
        4) The Child with Special Needs: Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional
        Growth, by Stanley I. Greenspan and Serena Wieder
        A comprehensive guide to help special needs children to reach their full intellectual and emotional potential.
        5) How Can I Talk if my Lips Don't Move: Inside my Autistic Mind,
        by Tito Rajashri Mukhopadhyay
        An insight by the author of how a mind of person with autism thinks, sees, and reacts to the world.

        MOVIES

        1) "The Miracle Worker" by Director Arthur Penn (1962)
        The story about blind and deaf Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan.
        2) "Rainman" by Director Barry Levinson (1988)
        Oscar winning movie about the relationship between a man with autism and his brother.
        3) "My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown" by Director Jim Sheridan (1989)
        Oscar winning movie about Christy Brown who was born with cerebral palsy yet he learned to write and paint.
        4) "Educating Peter" by Director Gerardine Wurzburg (1992)
        Academy award winning documentary about a child with down syndrome and how he adapts to his new school and learns.
        5) "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" by Director Lasse Hallstrom (1993)
        Oscar nominated touching movie about Gilbert, his younger brother Arnie who has autism and his family.
        6) "I am Sam" by Director Jessie Nelson (2001)
        An Oscar nominated story of a mentally retarded father fighting for custody of his daughter.
        7) "A beautiful mind" by Director Ron Howard (2001)
        Oscar winning movie about how a mathematician overcomes schizophrenia to win the Nobel Prize.
        8) "Mozart and the Whale" by Director Petter Naess (2005)
        A romantic comedy about two people with asperger's syndrome.
        Mumbai based Hindi language film industry in India is known as Bollywood. Bollywood Industry has produced outstanding movies around life of people with special needs which are as follows.
        1) "Anand" by Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee (1971)
        Filmfare award winning movie about the courage of person dying with leukemia.
        2) "Koshish" by Director Sampooran Singh Gulzar (1972)
        A romantic drama involving deaf-mute couple.
        3) "Sparsh" by Director Sai Paranjape (1980)
        Filmfare award winning movie about struggle and success a blind man goes through during his life.
        4) "Sadma" by Director Balu Mahendra (1983)
        A movie nominated for Filmfare award. Story of a young woman who loses her memory due to head injury in an automobile accident and starts behaving like a young girl.
        5) "Khamoshi: The Musical" by Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali (1996)
        Filmfare award winning movie about a deaf-mute couple and their "typically developing" daughter.
        6) "Black" by Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali (2005)
        The story of movie Black is based on the true life story of Helen Keller.
        7) "Taare Zameen Par" by Director Aamir Khan (2007)
        Story of an art teacher and his student with dyslexia. The movie has won 2008 Filmfare Best movie award.
        Dr. Leo Kanner first described Autism in the year 1943 yet we have to find the answer to the causes of autism. Understanding of autism has grown massively over the years. Some of the websites
        worth visiting if you are interested in the world of autism are as follows. 1) http://www.aspergersyndrome.org
        2) http://www.feat.org'
        3) http://www.autism-info.com
        4) http://info.med.yale.edu/chldstdy/autism/index.html

        Conclusion

        These resources, both local and global, are those available to a teacher from India. But even more important than these assets, is the commitment to the children and interest in making a difference in a child's life. If I can make a difference to a child like Krishna, so can you.

    • White Papers - How international is International Education in Moscow?

        How International is International Education in Moscow?

        When your children have lived outside their passport country for a long time the

  • US Education System
    • White papers - U.S. Educational System

        American Educational System

        The American educational system reflects its people; it is diverse, complex, and sometimes confusing. In this article, we will provide an overview of the American system, a brief look at U.S. education, summarize the different types of schools available, and outline other considerations that are important in a school search.

        Overview of the American Educational System

        One important characteristic of American education is its decentralization. Schools in the United States are a state and local responsibility rather than a federal one. The states and local school districts, with input from a range of public and private organizations, develop curricula and determine requirements for enrollment and graduation. School funding reflects the state and local role, with 91% coming from non-federal sources. The federal government neither approves nor administers a national curriculum, although it enforces certain mandates to which all states must conform.

        High and low-quality public schools are found in urban, suburban or rural settings. For example, New York City has an extensive "Gifted and Talented" program and a system of "charter schools" and "magnet schools" (defined below) that provide rigorous and high-quality education. However, entry into those programs and schools depends upon performance on standardized tests and residence requirements. Although there are also pockets in the city where one can find strong neighborhood schools, most struggle with large class sizes and limited funding.

        Curriculum

        As there is no national curriculum, one can best define the American educational system by its liberal arts approach. It emphasizes breadth of study and the development of critical thinking skills over specific subject specialization. Professional and vocational skills are not taught until university. Education in the U.S. is participative, with emphasis on the child as co-learner, and the teacher as a facilitator. Children are expected to talk in class and make presentations as an important part of the classroom experience. The learning approach includes not only acquiring knowledge but also understanding the basis for the derivation of the material, problem-solving skills, and knowledge utilization.

        In the U.S., education is compulsory for all children until 16 years of age. Most children begin formal schooling at age 5 - 6, in kindergarten which is followed by grade 1 for 6-7 year olds. This can be confusing for families from the U.K. where 5-6 year olds attend year 1. Elementary school may end after grade 4, 5 or 6. Most middle schools offer education at grade levels 6 to 8 (ages 12 to 14). After grade 8, students enroll in high school, which typically encompasses grades 9 to 12. Birthday cut-off dates vary by school district and private schools set their own, but September 1 or December 31 are common.

        A high school diploma is awarded on the basis of cumulative "credits" received for course completion, and in some states students must also pass state examinations (such as the Regents exams in New York).

        Able students may take Advanced Placement (AP) courses in the final years of high school, which represent a rigorous American pre-university curriculum and are favored by universities. These are typically courses in a particular subject. The most common AP courses are biology, calculus, physics, English Literature, English or foreign Language and history (American and European). The AP exams are considered on par with A-levels.

        In addition to a high school diploma, the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (American College Test) examinations are generally required for American university entrance. Extracurricular involvement, community service, personal essay(s), and references are also important factors for university acceptance.

        Types of Schools

        PUBLIC SCHOOLS

        Public education is the responsibility of the individual states and curriculum varies accordingly. Public schools in the U.S. are co-educational and do not require uniforms. Approximately 90% of Americans use public schools. These are locally funded, so the quality typically reflects the level of resources of the community. In affluent areas, the local public schools may be excellent.

        To attend public schools a family generally has to live in the catchment area of that desired school. There are exceptions when a school is full, or when a family lives in a district with magnet or charter schools.

        Separation of Church and State in the U.S. constitution means that public schools only offer the most general discussion of religion and religious holidays.

        Charter schools are public schools with more autonomy over curriculum and greater focus on accountability than other public schools. There are now over 4,000 charter schools in the U.S., many with waiting lists. Characteristics typically include:

        1. High academic standards, specific mission, defined student body, smaller class sizes, and highly involved families.
        2. Selectivity in choosing teachers from within the public school pool results in enthusiastic and highly qualified faculty.
        3. Charter status for 3-5 years, after which reapplication is required.
        4. Admission, open to all students, is granted through a lottery system.

        Magnet Schools specialize in specific programs, such as math and science or performing arts. Admissions processes are often difficult to navigate, and typically incorporate three distinct modes of entry:

        1. Selective admissions criteria such as a test, portfolio, or audition.
        2. First-come, first-served basis requiring application by a specific date.
        3. Lottery.

        PRIVATE SCHOOLS

        There are over 68,000 private schools in the U.S., mostly non-profit, though in recent years the number of for-profit private schools has increased. The major subcategories of private schools are parochial schools and independent schools.

        Parochial schools are partially funded by a particular religion and therefore charge significantly lower tuition than independent private schools. Parochial schools can be Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Jewish, Islamic, etc. Students generally are not required to be of that faith, but families who belong to the associated church or temple will often have priority in admissions, and instruction in the tenets of the school's faith figure prominently the curriculum. The Roman Catholic Church maintains the largest network of parochial schools in the US.

        Independent Schools are financially self-sustaining in that they do not depend government funding, and though some are affiliated with a religious tradition, do not depend upon religious institutions for funding, either. Most international schools and national schools practicing the national philosophy and curriculum of another country, such as France, Germany, and Japan, are independent schools.

        There are only six British schools accredited by the Council of British International Schools in the U.S. In fact, the President of School Choice International and a partner established the first British School in the Tri-State area of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut only a few years ago.

        Educational approach and alternative philosophy

        Schools with differing educational philosophies cut across both public and private sectors.

        1. Traditional Schools focus on basic concepts and "explicit phonics" in the early years. Often desks are set in rows, and learning is teacher-directed. The goal is mastery of a specific body of knowledge.
        2. Progressive Schools emphasize learning by doing and hands-on projects and have an integrated curriculum that focuses on thematic units and group work. Understanding and action, rather than rote knowledge, are the goals.
        3. Montessori Schools use a pedagogical system where students are guided by a teacher, life skills and independent, individualized instruction in a multi-year classroom where each child is free to progress at his or her own rate. Montessori schools are often for younger children, but the method is sometimes seen at a middle or high school level. Montessori is a good educational option for British families coming to the U.S., as children are able to work at appropriate academic levels alongside their own age peers.
        4. Waldorf Education emphasizes the development of a child's creativity alongside their analytical skills in an interdisciplinary setting.
        5. Reggio Emilia, for primary school-age children, values a child's self-guidance as it leads to their self expression, discovery of their material surroundings, and relationships with those around them.

        Other Considerations

        International Baccalaureate: The International Baccalaureate (IB), is rapidly growing in popularity and recognition among private and public schools in the U.S. There are three distinct programs within the IB: the Primary Years Program (ages 3-12), the Middle Years Program (ages 11-16), and the Diploma Program (ages 16-19). They are designed to help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. They also ease transitions for families moving between countries.

        School Calendars: The traditional school year in the United States runs from September to June (around 180 days) and is divided into 'quarters' or terms (semesters).

        Special Needs: Though each state has its own approach to special education, all public schools are required to provide for students with disabilities within the most mainstream environment possible. When a school cannot meet the needs of children with special needs, they must be transferred to suitable schools within or outside the district at public expense; if there are no public schools able to meet their needs, the district must pay for appropriate private schooling. Some private schools specialize in addressing the needs of special needs children; most standard day schools do not.

        Gifted and Talented: Programs exist in many public schools. Gifted programs can take many forms -pull-out, enrichment, or tracking (streaming) in certain classes or schools. Some well-regarded districts do not offer gifted and talented programs because it creates competition among the student and parent populations. It is not required by law and, in fact, many weaker schools institute a gifted and talented program to attract families with strong students. However, public school programs may not be sufficient for the profoundly gifted.

        Conclusion

        Despite the common language of instruction, among other similarities, there are significant differences between the American and British educational systems. The fact that few British schools exist in the U.S. means that your child will most likely end up in a school that follows the American style of education. Hopefully this article has provided insight into the multidimensional United States school system and will help ensure a smoother transition from the U.K. to the U.S. for your child.

    • Lessons from Abroad: Plan Better and Delve Deeperm
    • White papers - New York City Private Schools

        New York City Private Schools

        by Liz Perelstein and Angela Peng, School Choice International

        Introduction

        New York parents, like parents in any major conurbation, take their children's education very seriously and with the city's changing demographics, getting into all levels of education has become increasingly competitive. For new parents or newcomers to the Big Apple, the investment in private education reaches much farther than a dollar amount. Researching, applying to, and competing for space at New York City private schools can seem an overwhelming process unless you're well informed and well prepared.

        It is ideal to apply to schools along the regular admissions cycle. However, if you're applying mid-year, do not worry. Remember that families move away from New York unexpectedly. At any time of year, chances of vacancies will arise. As long as you know what is expected, your children have the right credentials, and you have the right paperwork, you will increase your children's chances of being accepted.

        Application Process

        Entry level grades have the greatest number of places available, but admission is most competitive. Other grades have fewer places but also fewer applicants, so families should not be discouraged from applying to non-entry level grades. Generally there are entry points at pre-school or Kindergarten, middle school, and high school. However, only the high school grade level is fixed, at grade 9. Schools may start at nursery, pre-K or Kindergarten, and the next entry point can be at grade 6 (most common) or 7.

        Application process consists of a tour, parent interview, and child playgroup or interview, depending on age of child. Attending additional open house is optional. The silver lining of this time consuming process is that families may learn a great deal about schools by seeing them in various different contexts. The process should be viewed as an opportunity to gather information to make the right match for a child, not simply to "get in."

        Private school places will be full by the parent reply deadline, mid-March. However, chance vacancies will become available throughout the summer as a result of attrition by families whose plans change.

        Nursery Schools

        Most applications are available Tuesday to Thursday after Labor Day. Parent will have to call schools for applications for following September. Often parents apply to eight to ten nursery schools. Many of the applications are distributed by lottery. Acceptances are mailed on February 22nd, and parents must reply by March 12th.

        Kindergarten to Grade 8

        Applications are made a year in advance for a full year's school commitment. All schools have admissions calendars posted on their websites. Until recently, deadlines were in December, but gradually some have inched up to mid-November. Check schools of choice, as some distribute all applications even before that date. Supporting materials (teacher recommendations, test results) may arrive by January 15. Many schools begin touring prospective families the previous spring. For kindergarten to Grade 1, the decision date is February 15th and for Grade 2- 8, the decision date is February 6th. Parents must reply by February 27th.

        High Schools

        As many lower schools in the NY metropolitan area end after grades 8 or 9, parents may feel quite pressured as the middle school years come to a close. However, the availability of wonderful public high schools offsets the reduced number of places in private high schools.

        The private high school application timetable parallels that of private elementary and middle schools. Applications must be in by late fall, students are notified of acceptances between February 13th to 27th. Families must respond by March 13th. Please note that grade 12 is an inhospitable private school entry year. Schools are worried about students beginning the college application process unknown to guidance counselors and just getting acclimated to a new school.

        Testing

        ECEE, Grade Pre-K-5

        Early Childhood Entrance Exam is an IQ test that covers grades K-5, although some ongoing schools require it for pre-k. It is necessary to check with the schools on an individual basis to determine if the ECEE is necessary. The ECEE must be taken in New York City. Tests are difficult to schedule, and this should be the first step in the private school search process.

        In the early years (pre-K to grade 2), ECEE is a one on one test with a psychologist that last anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes and the older children (grade 3-5) have a one on one hour assessment followed by a 40 minutes reading comprehension test administered in a small group setting. During the individual assessment, children will be asked to work with mazes and puzzles, and will be asked questions about things they encounter in daily living, rather than reading or mathematics that can be practiced. Visit the Educational Records Bureau website for more information.

        ISEE Grade 5-12

        The ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) is administered by the ERB. Unlike ECEE, it is possible to prepare for the ISEE test. Practice tests are available on the ERB test site. Cracking the ISEE and SSAT published by Princeton Review is a good resource, and students should prepare for this test.

        The ISEE has three levels: a lower level for students currently in grades four and five who are candidates for admission to grades five and six, a middle level for students currently in grades six and seven who are candidates for admission to grades seven and eight, and an upper level for students currently in grades eight to eleven who are candidates for admission to grades nine to twelve. The test lasts about three hours long, which does not include the two scheduled breaks and time for reading directions. Visit the Educational Records Bureau website for more information.

        SSAT Grade 6-12

        The SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test) is more commonly used for boarding schools admissions, or admissions in cities other than New York. New York schools do not like to use the SSAT in lieu of the SEE, but may accept it under some circumstances. If the SSAT is more convenient, check with each school individually if it will be accepted. Cracking the ISEE and SSAT published by Princeton Review is a good resource, and students should prepare for this test.

        For more information regarding testing schedule and fee, please visit the SSAT website.

        Goodness of Fit

        While there is no question that you should always present your child in the best possible light, pretending that he or she is cleverer, more sporting, more musical or more arty than what he or she really is does no one, especially your child, any favor in the long run. Also, keep in mind that a considerable amount of thought and care goes into the selection of, not only a particular child, but also a composite class. Balance of gender, age, ability, talents and diversity all are taken into consideration to ensure the class functions as successfully as possible. Your child may be ideal in every way but another child might have just the characteristic that is missing and will be selected over your child. That does not mean there is anything wrong with your child, just that for that class at that time, the other child was a better fit.

        Find the right school for your child, and do not get caught up with the idea of the best or worst schools. The best school is the one that works for your child, and conversely the worst school for your child may be the one that is best for another child. Trust the process and your child will get a place in the school that is right for him or her. Families who are patient and open minded will end up with schools which suit their children.

        School Fees

        New York School fees are paid on an annual basis with about a third due in the summer before the academic year begins and the balance in December or January of the academic year. Accepting a place at a school is binding for the year; you are contracted to pay the fee for the whole year. It is important to know this because you cannot accept a place at one school while waiting for a place at another school and then decline the original contract when a place comes free. You will have to pay the entire year's school fees for both schools, if indeed the second school will honor its offer if it is aware that you are under contract to another school. It is strictly against ISAAGNY riles for a school to accept a child who has committed to another member school.

        Useful Resources

        The Parents League of NY for Private Schools

        Independent School Admission Association of Greater New York

        Educational Records Bureau

    • White papers - New York City Schools - The Application Process and Deadliness

        New York City Schools - The Application Process and Deadlines

        by Liz Perelstein and Angela Peng, School Choice International

        When moving into New York, or even moving to a new location within the city, the maze of school options available for a family can be daunting. The following is intended to compile all options in a single document, providing a basic roadmap to the application processes and timetable.

        Nursery and Pre-Kindergarten

        With the exception of those for children with special needs, nursery schools for children under 4 are private in New York City.

        Private:

        Timetable:

        1. Most applications available Tuesday to Thursday after Labor Day
        2. o call schools for applications for following September
        3. o many of these are distributed by lottery
        4. Acceptances mailed first week in March
        5. Parents must reply by mid-March

        Notes:

        1. Often parents apply to 8-10 nursery schools
        2. For those who move late in the process or do not get into schools the first round, School Choice International has great success finding vacancies for families outside the traditional timetable.

        Public:

        Timetable:

        1. Process for pre-K applications begins in March
        2. Will receive an acceptance from Office of Student Enrollment by May
        3. Second round deadline in July

        Notes:

        1. Pre-K places for children 4 by December 31
        2. Places available for all children whose parents submit in a timely manner
        3. First choice may not be available

        Special Needs:

        By law, a child with special needs is eligible for testing and to receive publicly funded services even before his/her 3rd birthday. Districts must provide schooling and related services, plus transportation, even if they are not available in district.

        Elementary Education

        Parents interested in educating their children in private schools are typically quite nervous about the application process, but given the quality and variety of public school options, there is no need for such a level of stress. Information is the best way to combat unnecessary fears.

        Private:

        Timetable:

        1. Applications are made a year in advance for a full year's school commitment
        2. All schools have admissions calendars posted on their websites
        3. Until recently, deadlines were in December, but gradually some have inched up to mid-November. Check schools of choice, as some distribute all applications even before that date
        4. Supporting materials (teacher recommendations, test results) may arrive by January 15
        5. Many schools begin touring prospective families the previous spring
        6. Depending on grade level, notifications mailed during February and must be returned in March

        Notes:

        1. NYC application process consists of a tour, parent interview, and child playgroup or interview, depending on age of child. Attending additional open house is optional. The silver lining of this time consuming process is that families may learn a great deal about schools by seeing them in various different contexts. The process should be viewed as an opportunity to gather information to make the right match for a child, not simply to "get in."
        2. Entry level grades have the greatest number of places available, but admission is most competitive. Other grades have fewer places but also fewer applicants, so families should not be discouraged from applying to non-entry level grades. Generally there are entry points at pre-school or Kindergarten, middle school, and high school. However, only the high school grade level is fixed, at grade 9. Schools may start at nursery, pre-K or Kindergarten, and the next entry point can be at grade 6 (most common) or 7.
        3. Private school places will be full by the parent reply deadline, mid-March. However, chance vacancies will become available throughout the summer as a result of attrition by families whose plans change. School Choice International is available to assist in placement.

        Public:

        Most elementary school students attend neighborhood schools. Families new to the area may register for school at their local school. Dialing 311 will provide an answer for any families unsure of which school zone in which they reside. Hunter College operates a school for academically and intellectually gifted children; only entry point is Kindergarten.

        Timetable:

        1. Public Gifted and Talented Schools and Classrooms require a request for testing in December. Final deadline is mid-January
        2. There are 60, and an increasingly growing number, of charter schools, designed to bring innovative leaders and resources to the public schools. Enrollment by lottery with preference to siblings
        3. Hunter Elementary School applications are mailed beginning Sept. 2008 for 2009 and must be submitted by mid November. Parents arrange first round of testing after applications are submitted and second round takes place at the end of January, 2009 at the school

        Notes:

        1. To register at public school, family requires verifiable proof of home address including a utility bill (gas, electric, or water), a deed to a house a statement from an employer, community-based organization or a religious institution. If a parent is subletting an apartment or home an affidavit from the leaseholder or homeowner is required. A telephone bill or driver's license is not acceptable proof of address, nor is a lease by itself.
        2. Gifted and Talented programs include two models - a self-contained classroom, in which like students are taught together in all subject areas, and a school wide enrichment model in which enrichment resources, acceleration is offered and groupings are determined according to content area.
        3. English Language Learners are supported in one of three different models depending on level of English proficiency.
        4. Special education support is provided, by law, in the least restrictive environment. When district resources cannot meet a child's needs, services are provided where they are available.

        Secondary Education:

        Private:

        As many lower schools in the NY metropolitan area end after grades 8 or 9, parents may feel quite pressured as the middle school years come to a close. However, the availability of wonderful public high schools offsets the reduced number of places in private high schools.

        Timetable:

        The private school application timetable parallels that of private elementary and middle schools. Applications must be in by late fall, students are notified of acceptances by mid-late February depending on grade level. Families must respond by mid-March.

        Notes:

        Grade 12 is an inhospitable private school entry year. Schools are worried about students beginning the college application process unknown to guidance counselors and just getting acclimated to a new school.

        Public:

        In addition to local public high schools, there are nine specialized high schools in New York City. Entrance is determined on the basis of examination or audition, in the case of LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts.

        1. Stuyvesant High School
        2. Bronx High School of Science
        3. Staten Island Technical High School
        4. The Brooklyn Latin School
        5. Brooklyn Technical High School
        6. Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
        7. High School of American Studies at Lehman College
        8. High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College
        9. Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (LaGuardia High School)

        In addition, there are charter schools, career and technical schools, small schools of approximately 500 students, and small learning communities

        Hunter College High School and Bard High School Early College are two additional specialized schools with competitive admissions processes that fall outside the NYC Board of Education.

        Timetable:

        1. The special schools admissions test is administered during the last week of October for 8th graders and first week of November for 9th graders.
        2. Offers for specialized schools are sent out in February.
        3. A make-up date is scheduled for latecomers to the city and those who were unable to take the exam
        4. Bard High School Early College requires that students go through the regular Department of Education ranking process as well as their own process with a deadline of October 31
        5. Hunter College High School has its own admissions testing process which is published in June each year on its website for the following academic year's cycle. The only entry point for HCHS is grade 7

        Notes:

        1. For admission to specialized high schools, students must rank their top 8 choices. They are considered in order of their preferences, ranked against others who choose the same schools as their first choice. The lowest score of an admitted student (determined by number of available places) becomes the cut-off score.
        2. Aside from the specialized high schools, students must rank their 12 top choices, and have 3 rounds to determine which school they will actually attend. Every student will have a match by the end of the final round.

        The multitude of available options can make the application process daunting. However, it is most parents' objective to find the right fit for their child, and, towards that end, the large number of choices actually is a great asset.

        Further information is available through the Parents League of NY for private schools (http://www.parentsleague.org/), the borough enrollment office for public schools (http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/NewStudents/BEO+Contact+Information.htm) or through School Choice International (www.SchoolChoiceIntl.com) which can assist with either public or private school advice or placement.

        This article written by Liz Perelstein was published in the Westchester Business Journal's November edition. It explores many different ideas about why are our educational system lags behind other countries. One of the quotes from the article "How can we compete with lndia and China when we value athletic prowess, fashion and trendy music above education?" gives you a flavor of this thought-provoking article.

    • Why Our Educational System Lags Behind by Liz Perelsteins

        This article written by Liz Perelstein was published in the Westchester Business Journal's November edition. It explores many different ideas about why are our educational system lags behind other countries. One of the quotes from the article "How can we compete with lndia and China when we value athletic prowess, fashion and trendy music above education?" gives you a flavor of this thought-provoking article.

  • For Every Need: special needs, gifted, English language learners
    • Considerations for Children with Special Needs

        International Relocation and School Considerations for Children with Special Needs

        Moving with children is always difficult. This is particularly true in today's child-centered world, where parents strive for perfection. Whether a child is of nursery school age or a teenager, parents are overwhelmed by guilt when contemplating the sacrifices required by relocating their children. They know what they have at home. They have researched, planned, arranged and moved mountains so that all of the pieces could be in place to give their offspring every advantage. Moving not only suggests the unknown, it inevitably shortens the time available for all of the stages involved in setting up an ideal life for children. When special needs are involved, the overall level of stress increases considerably for a relocating family.

        When children have special needs, whether medical or educational, parents inevitably suffer additional guilt. Some parents of children with special needs have devoted their lives to finding the right educational placement. The research they have completed may be equivalent to getting a medical or doctoral degree in the diagnosis, learning what kind of setting is most effective, comparing current with past trends, joining advocacy organizations or taking legal action. Many have abandoned professional careers and replaced them by this as their life's work. Parents of children with special needs typically seek out and queue for waitlists at their preferred educational establishments. In all locations it seems that good options are too few and far between.

        When a family of a child with special needs learns of a possible international relocation, the rug literally is pulled out from under them. Even when research and treatment may be more advanced in the new country, parents need to learn an entirely different system, understand the cultural context of special needs, and rethink best practice when considerable time, energy, thought and effort already have gone into the project. Not to mention, that waitlist places will be lost forever, and obtaining a place in a new suitable educational establishment requires getting at the end of the queue again. This time it must be done in a country where the family lacks contacts or resources. There may be insurance issues to be explored or mastered. Sometimes, the move does not take a family to a country where treatment of the disability is more advanced, but rather places them in a culture where management of the condition is inferior to practices at home. Moving to a society less informed about the child's circumstances, where schools seem inadequate to meet the needs of the child can be devastating. In these cases, home schooling, boarding in the home country or in a location remote from the family, or forging an entirely uncharted path may be the only viable solutions.

        Diagnosis Amidst a Move

        Another complex issue frequently occurs when finding schooling during an international relocation. Some students experience difficulty in school, but obtain passing grades. The source of the problem may not be identified or brought to the surface at home. The child is promoted from one year to the next with mild concern on the part of teachers and parents, but no one ever investigates the possibility of a learning disability or significant problem. If the same child applied to school now, rather than having done so at the entry level, many would be denied places at the schools where they now are students. When moving, they are forced to apply for admission in a weaker position than the one in which they entered the educational system years earlier. Parents typically look for schools of the same caliber as the one their child is leaving. Through entrance testing and review of marks, potential schools will identify a mismatch between the child and the school, or a discrepancy between marks, teacher referrals and admissions examination results, and may request further assessment.

        Often, at this stage, already stressful for a family during an overseas move, a learning disability will be diagnosed. Families will need to come to terms with this problem in the midst of finding a home, packing their boxes and saying good-bye. Mourning the loss of the image they have had of their child is difficult enough without the turmoil of moving. At what seems to be the worst possible time, the family will fear their child's rejection at all schools, and will have to make fundamental decisions about the direction of his/her education. In the country to which they are moving, children with special needs may be treated differently than at home. They may be isolated at a special table, class or school, whereas at home, support services may have been provided in the mainstream, when possible. This is enough to throw an already stressed family into a panic, struggling to learn what they can about their child's learning issues and the educational system where they are moving simultaneously.

        Early Versus Late Detection

        In recent years, there seem to be greater numbers of children diagnosed with special needs. There is some controversy about the reasons for this; whether there simply are greater numbers of children who are born with, or who develop, special needs, or whether diagnostic tools have improved, is a matter of active debate. There are pros and cons of early diagnosis. On the one hand, early diagnosis can lead to helpful early intervention. In these instances, children have benefited from lives free of disabilities that otherwise may have been obstacles. On the other hand, many children have received therapy and parents have worried unnecessarily about perceived disorders that they may have outgrown without treatment. Moving a family with a child with special needs to another country may mean moving from a culture where diagnosis occurs late, to one where testing takes place at younger ages, or vice versa. This requires parents to quickly master a learning curve, and, may force decisions before they are sure of their philosophical leanings.

        How to Approach a Move With a Special Needs Child

        To families who have children with special needs, whether minor or major, deciding whether or not to move is a decision of greater magnitude than it is for other families. Since the additional stress that a family faces is so significant, it is wise to keep other aspects of the move as simple as possible. Education should be the first priority. A family in this position should not be limited by geographic location, so housing decisions should be deferred, if possible, until after schooling, and other necessary therapies are explored.

        Sometimes resources in the public sector are superior to those in the private domain. However, for families moving from another location, this presents a chicken and egg situation. A family cannot register their children in a state school until a house has been purchased or let. In addition, the statementing process, which allows children to qualify for services, takes time. Families may need an interim and a long-run solution if they plan to use the public sector.

        Navigating the educational and health care systems in a new country is a daunting task. When immersed in the multifaceted details of a transfer, it is recommended that the family work with an educational advisor or someone qualified to spearhead the effort, pulling together help that may be available from disparate sources. With one point person, sources of useful information may include:

        1. The child's former school-often specialists in one country may be familiar with experts in another
        2. Research universities
        3. Research hospitals
        4. Advocacy groups
        5. Legal documents, to see which schools or systems have faced the fewest law suits
        6. Parent support networks
        7. Newcomer organizations
        8. Internet searches

        Conclusion

        After all information is gathered, parents should make every effort to be realistic about their child. Asking whether, at their child's current age, s/he would have been admitted to his/her present school is a good first step. If the answer is no, and parents are able to accept this information, it will be clear that the schools to seek may not mirror the school that their child now attends. Parents also need to be open-minded. If a child currently goes to school in the independent sector, but the new country does a better job with children of similar profiles in the state system, it would be wise to explore both alternatives rather than focusing only on a single possibility.

        Moving to a new country may allow a family a fresh, new perspective. Although replicating the services a family had at home may not be possible, considering all available resources in the new location may shed new light on a treatment, therapy or approach that may turn out to be the most valuable aspect of a family's overseas move.

    • English Language Learners: What You Don\'t Know Can Hurt

        Click English Language Learners: What You Don't Know Can Hurt to view.

    • Further Learning

        Click Further Learning to view as it appeared in FT.com.

    • If Your Child is Not Thriving in School

        If Your Child is Not Thriving in School

        by Jill Kristal, PhD and Liz Perelstein, School Choice International Published in ORC

        If you are a parent, you must be reading this for a reason. It can be a great concern to a family if a child who has been functioning well suddenly begins to struggle in school, whether the problem is large or small. You, the parent, may have observed a problem with your child - perhaps a behavioral change. Or the school may have noticed the issue. In some cases, your child may bring the issue to your attention. A problem can occur at any age and may manifest in a variety of ways.

        For example, your normally gregarious child becomes quiet, isn't sleeping well, eating well, and does not want to go to school. When you ask her what is wrong, she bursts into tears and snaps, "nothing".

        There may be multiple explanations for a sudden behavioral change like this one. These may be academic, social, emotional, behavioral, or a combination of any the four. * Insert Sidebar

        Sometimes a new behavior will be a function of a learning disability, as a child of any age may have difficulty expressing the fact that s/he is struggling with academic material. More temporary academic explanations occur because a child may have trouble understanding directions or expectations, as he encounters a new teacher, either moving from one grade to another, from elementary to middle school from city to suburbs, one state to another, or internationally.

        At other times, the same behavior can be caused by social issues, so the behavior itself does not give any clue to the underlying cause, but is a trigger that something is amiss and parental attention may be wise. Finally, it could be situational, in the case of a child who has just moved, or suffered a major loss, be it a pet, a nanny, or a parent, including the result of divorce.

        If you are worried, act but don't overreact. Try non-invasive strategies first, which use a combination of listening and behavioral approaches.

        Non invasive strategies would include talking to your child. You may be able to glean more information from a conversation. Often a drive in the car works best, as your child is captive and she doesn't have to meet your eyes.

        If you are unable to identify the source of the problem, the next step would be to talk to the teacher. What you may be seeing at home may not be manifest at school, or may show up in a different way. Improvement is easiest when everyone is working together to resolve an issue, although this may be difficult to attain. Nevertheless, this should be the goal of parents.

        There are many things within a classroom that a good teacher can do. If you can advocate for your child, you can try to get a sympathetic teacher, and to work with the teacher to create the best environment possible. Sometimes advocating for a child is not considered appropriate in a particular system - this is a function of the culture as well as personalities involved. But if you can, get informal interventions, which may include putting your child near the front of the room, separating him/her from specific children, presenting material in varied formats, allowing use of laptops or additional time even if not classified, you may see changes. These can be diagnostic as well as helpful. Sometimes just a sympathetic adult can make a major difference.

        A conversation with your doctor would be the next step in identifying what may be bothering your child before going down an invasive route. Your child simply may be going through a developmental or hormonal stage. Alternatively, there may be another medical explanation that can be solved in a simple way.

        If you have tried these simple techniques but no change is apparent, it is time to seek further assistance.

        There are times that a child may not prosper in a particular school but may do well in another. This is not to say that he or she is not in an excellent school. But some great schools do not fit a particular child, and other schools, that may not have the same reputation, may in fact be a better fit for some children. Sometimes a school is too large, and impersonal and a child simply needs greater attention or direction. Sometimes a child is in a small private school lacking specialist staff and would do better in a public school system with trained personnel and resources. In either of these cases, although change may seem difficult, there is no point in making further investment in the status quo when it is not working. Ultimately a child, who is better understood, better matched academically and socially, will do better and will be happier. Public or private might be better for any particular child - don't come to the situation with preconceived notions. An educational consultant may be very helpful to you in identifying and weighing the pros and cons of alternatives. Remember that no decision is set in stone.

        If you are concerned about a learning disability, it would be wise to talk to the school psychologist or your child's counselor or family physician, and follow up on leads they provide. They may suggest a psycho-educational evaluation. Briefly, this testing is a way to get an understanding of your child's current ability in comparison to what he or she could be expected to be capable of. It gives a picture of how a child learns stores, retrieves and outputs information. Different tests are given depending on the difficulties the child seems to be having. Follow up interventions will be suggested by the evaluator.

        A psycho-educational evaluation may be administered and paid for within the public school system, but can take a long time to be completed. Some families prefer a private evaluation, which is somewhat faster and you can choose your own evaluator, but it is expensive.

        Aside from the expense, there are times that it is preferable to seek support outside of school - this may be as simple as tutoring, or more complex such as psychotherapy. Your decision will depend on the preferences of your family, the needs of your child, how private you wish to be and what is available at school. Often children don't like being pulled out of class to receive extra help. They believe everyone is looking at them, making judgments and fear being teased.

        For children with severe difficulties, for example, a child on the autistic spectrum, you will likely become involved with a while team of professionals in and out of school. But the process will start the same way, and one conversation, for example, with your doctor, will lead to the next referral.

        In this article I have provided a very general overview of ways that a child's failure to thrive may manifest, what your child may be experiencing if he or she is acting differently, and where a parent should turn to get the process of diagnosis and intervention started. Please contact the EAP if you need further information.

        * Sidebar:

        Definitions:

        Academic - problems affecting performance in school, which may be attributable to learning issues, giftedness, or social/emotional causes.

        Social - difficulties in interactions with peers and adults.

        Emotional - stem from difficulties understanding, expressing or regulating feelings, but may be displayed behaviorally, academically, or socially.

        Behavioral - withdrawal or acting out symptoms that may be caused by any of the previous.

        Sidebar #2:

        Manifestations of these problems include but are not limited to:

        1. school avoidance
        2. sleeping difficulties
        3. eating problems
        4. anxiety, sadness
        5. acting out or withdrawal
        6. poor performance
        7. boredom
        8. difficulties with peer group
        9. social awkwardness
        10. bullying or target of bullying.
    • Meeting Children\'s Special Needs

        MOBILITY Magazine, September 2009

        For families with children, education is the first priority and getting it right is a challenge even in the family’s home country. The schooling situation becomes even more complex for those families who are asked to relocate. Mellors and Perelstein demonstrate that when moving children with special needs and, in fact, all children, a well thought-out process and high standards are necessary to ensure assignment success.

        By Lucy Mellors and Elizabeth Perelstein

        We intended to write an article on what constitutes an appropriate school search when moving a child with special needs. Statistically, 12 percent to 17 percent of the overall population of children in a country is identified to have special needs that relate to their learning styles or physical capabilities. But as we reflected on this article, we also considered the target population of internationally mobile youth—as well as the fact that 92 percent of respondents to a recent survey by Brookfield Global Relocation Services, Woodridge, Illinois, titled “Global Relocation Trends 2009 Survey Report,” said that family concerns remain the most overwhelming reason for assignment refusal or failure—and concluded that every child moving to another country, leaving friends, family, his or her comfort zone in curriculum, interests, and perhaps even language of instruction, inherently has special needs.

        Indeed, when repatriating to the United States from the United Kingdom, my own son, Dan Perelstein, returned to his former school and found himself to be completely adrift. It was not “cool to be smart,” as it had been abroad. Music and theater, his areas of interest, were not practiced by the boys who, instead, favored sports, which were not an area of strength for him. He clearly had a special need in adapting to the local climate and building a social environment in which he could thrive, or even survive. Absent this support system, we had no choice but to move him to a different school that better met his unique needs.

        Only international schools are specifically established to serve a transitional population. Schools in any country are a microcosm of the culture in which they exist. Those that do well at teaching succeed with local children according to the standards and practices valued by their society, making education as culturally contingent as a country’s way of doing business.

        Coming from a country where math is taught by memorization, learning to produce answers that include why you have arrived at a conclusion requires the same sort of learning support that a child with a learning disability may require. If science is taught in a different sequence in a new country, a child lacking the prerequisites certainly will need extra help to get on track. If handwriting is valued, students whose work habitually has been produced on the computer may get failing grades. And children who have been taught to learn in silence need help to be successful in a school system where they will be graded on classroom participation.

        Although international schools, accustomed to receiving children with varied backgrounds, make transition easier than do local schools filled primarily with children who never have been away from home, they, too, have to teach courses in a predetermined sequence, limit the number of languages offered, and adopt an educational philosophy. These educational decisions mean that children inevitably will have curriculum gaps—areas where they are behind and need extra help, or areas where they are advanced and require extra challenge. Even in the least complicated international school scenario, a child moving to another country has individual educational needs.

        Not yet mentioned are students who have special gifts—academic, artistic, or athletic—that have been nurtured at home. Can these children keep up their skills and/or competitive standing in another country where their talents are not recognized and the necessary competencies not taught? If not through the identical activity, are there substitutes that keep them from losing ground if they are unable to make progress? Finding an appropriate school for a child who is gifted or talented requires similar research and creativity to a school search for a child with classified special educational needs.

        So we return to our original intent—relocating children with special needs. How do you conduct a school search to ensure that their needs are satisfied in a new country? But rather than confine our tips exclusively to children officially classified with special needs, we suggest that methods that suit these children are appropriate for any child moving to a new location.

        Standards for Choosing Schools for Relocating Children

        Thorough preparation before a school is chosen will ensure that parents and children know what to expect in their new school, have time to make appropriate arrangements, and make school decisions understanding what these mean for the next school choice. Following these steps will ensure students are prepared, the most important considerations are prioritized, and that both relocating parents and children are satisfied, allowing the employee to concentrate on the work at hand.

        How to find a school that meets a child’s unique needs:

        As these tips make apparent, a successful school search is not simply about “getting in” to a school in a new location. Recognizing that all children moving to another country are vulnerable and must be handled with care suggests that the school search involves some logistics but, more important, involves safeguards to ensure that the child’s most basic requirements, whether in the areas of learning, physical, emotional, or curricular support, are met when a school is selected for the duration of an overseas move.

        If parents are selecting a school on their own, following this process will protect the child every step of the way. If a company is using an educational provider, external assistance that encompasses these steps will make a difficult move for any child into a positive educational experience.

        Liz Perelstein, president of School Choice International, founded School Choice as an expatriate in London more than a decade ago. In 2006, she co-founded the British International School of New York, the first British curriculum school in the New York metropolitan area. She can be reached at+1 914 328 3000 or e-mail liz@schoolchoice.com.

        • Start with the child, not the school. Conduct a comprehensive educational assessment of the child including parental feedback, school transcripts, educational psychologists’ report if available, as well as standardized testing results. Remember that it may be necessary to have a child with special needs re-evaluated by an educational psychologist in the destination country to ensure the diagnosis is up to date and easily understood by the people who will be providing support.
        • Conduct an in-depth analysis of the values of the family and the practical logistics of importance to the family. It is important to manage expectations concerning the reality of available schooling in the destination country, as well as taking the time to re-evaluate earlier educational choices and explore how the move can lead to a good—maybe even better—fit between the child and the school.
        • Be aware of the curriculum differences relevant to the move and how these will affect schooling in the new country and on repatriation. Be clear on the potential gaps and overlaps in the curriculum. If traditional “special needs” are defined and treated differently in the new country, make sure this language and these customs are understood thoroughly.
        • Obtain accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information about the schools available—mainstream, special needs, public, and private. Information should be both qualitative and quantitative, including metrics, professional experience, and insight presented in a digestible and accessible and uniform manner. Metrics are meaningful only when presented in the context of appropriate interpretation, namely what these do and do not demonstrate. The search should be thorough and include obvious as well as off-the-beaten path choices.
        • Based on this research, draw up a comprehensive list of schools supporting the needs of the individual child. It is preferable to postpone the decision on where to live until the school is settled.
        • Phone schools to inquire about availability, obtain application forms, and schedule tours and interviews. Apply to a diverse list of schools, recognizing that moving to a new culture is an opportunity to fine-tune what has and has not worked at previous schools.
        • Request advice on completion of application forms, particularly taking into account cultural differences that may affect application essays and recommendations.
        • Children and parents should prepare for interviews, concentrating on asking all pertinent questions about the academic program, extra­curricular activities, and the school’s formal and informal ability to assist a child coming from a different background to transition into the school. Schools welcome parents who are keen to find the right fit for their child—not just get into the school at any cost.
        • For a placement to be successful, there must be ongoing dialogue between the administration and parents on the current and future needs of the child. Schools should be assessed on the basis of whether or not they are open and responsive to this type of discussion.
        • Seek objective advice on the placement decision to enable the family to make thoughtful, long-lasting choices for the children.
        • Both parents of children with classified special needs and de facto ones need advice on advocating for a child in school within the cultural system of the destination country to ensure the child has the best experience and support possible.
        • Request a complaints procedure before one is needed to monitor the school’s ability to address a child’s special needs, as well as the program quality during and after placement.
        • Develop a long-term education plan for the family for ongoing school changes based on a child’s specific issues, age, or the need to wait out the wait list or repatriation.
    • Mobility Challenges and Strategies: Children with Special Needs

        Did you know about 15% of school age children (at least in the U.S.) are now being diagnosed with special needs? Liz Perelstein and Judy Carlton wrote an article of the difficulties of navigating the educational, relocation and family issues for children with special needs - Mobility Challenges and Strategies: Children with Special Needs (p.54 Mobility Magazine).

  • Education Policy
    • Building Policies for Good Times and Bad: Education Allowances
    • Expatriate Education Policies: Reducing Costs the Smart Way
    • Five Facts about International Schooling

        Five Facts About International Schooling

        Author:

        Liz Perelstein – School Choice International

        Most companies sending employees overseas offer some kind of cross-cultural training. But we rarely think of cross- cultural training for school children, even though education can be a make or break issue for many families considering an overseas assignment.

        As you can see from the facts below, even expats who send their children to international schools encounter cultural differences that may be significant, and may clash with family customs. Schools – local and even international – are a microcosm of the culture they inhabit. Without understanding the host country’s educational system children can be disadvantaged in the admissions arena, in academic performance and in the ease of transition.

        Consider these facts:

        • Did you know that 8th graders in Belgium, Korea and Japan do not use calculators in math classes?

          Curriculum differences like these make it hard for children trained on calculators to adapt to local mathematics instruction in these countries.Curriculum differences like these make it hard for children trained on calculators to adapt to local mathematics instruction in these countries.

        • Did you know that German parents give their children a Schultuete, or a cone filled with treats on the day they start first grade?

          Children unfamiliar with local customs can feel awkward or embarrassed, affecting the transition to their new school.

        • ) Did you know that in Brazil children either go to school in the morning OR in the afternoon?

          Spouses may find it difficult to work in countries with a school schedule alien to them.

        • Did you know that Saudi Arabia is enforcing a law that requires expat children to attend a school of their own nationality?

          Many families choose a curriculum other than their national curriculum, often to preserve curriculum continuity with former or future schooling.

        • Did you know that admissions for 4-to-10 year olds for New York City independent schools requires an entrance examination that is ONLY administered in New York City?

          Admissions opportunities may be limited for children if parents are unaware of requirements.

    • Impact of Remote Relocations on Education

        Impact of Assignments to Remote Locations on Children’s Education

        See the article in the International HR Forum

        Author:

        Liz Perelstein – School Choice International

        As businesses expand more and more into developing markets, companies are often facing new challenges in finding appropriate schools for the children of their international assignees. In some locations, schools haven’t caught up with demand for international education; in others, there simply might not be any international schooling options at all. Now more than ever, local schools are an option, but you need to be well-prepared for such an approach to work.

        Schooling is a Top Priority

        Assignees often state that having access to good quality schools for their children is the most important factor in deciding to accept an assignment. Parents are more uneasy than ever about relocating with children when international schools are not available. By gaining some understanding of the local educational system and curriculum differences in countries where you send employees, you will be in a better position to create policies that provide children with access to reasonable education.

        Consider these facts:

        Some local schools in India consider handwriting so important that teachers may not consider content if handwriting falls short of expectations.

        Language is the main obstacle that many companies are aware of when evaluating local school choices, but integrating families into a local educational system where goals, philosophies and methods are so dissimilar requires a different type of preparation on the part of the family, and a more flexible policy on the part of the company.

        Tips for Success:

        Here is a short checklist which is useful to help companies and assignees examine educational options for any overseas assignment, as well as for their eventual return home:

        Conclusion:

        School choices for expatriate children are always challenging, and even more so in locations where the traditional choices are limited or non-existent. Families who have overcome these obstacles and successfully educated their children in local schools find the rewards to be significant. Children truly learn new languages, cultures and curricular subjects and enjoy an unprecedented window into the customs of a different country. As schools are a microcosm of the cultures they inhabit, children raised in local schools abroad can be our true ambassadors in the global world of the next generation. Providing support in the form of tutoring, on-line learning and language instruction is a key consideration companies should consider when developing policies to support your employees in remote locations. Inviting parents to reframe their definition of education as learning rather than schooling is the key to promoting the right attitude for a successful assignment.

        • A study by the University of New Hampshire indicates in many European countries, parental involvement is not permitted.
        • So-called “International Schools” may not be truly international. Instead, they may be targeted towards local children to help them acquire language and other skills to promote attendance at US universities and/or may exist for children whose parents do not want them to attend local schools.
        • In some countries, schools “stream” students into tracks as early as 12 years old, and this could affect the ability to gain admission to universities in other countries. Admissions decisions based on an “entry examination” or prerequisites make this a clear challenge for those who do not have the language or curriculum background.
        • Religious education is a fundamental part of national curriculum in many countries, such as Ireland. This may meet an unenthusiastic response from families not accustomed to such arrangements, or those that practice a different religion. And, even if considered acceptable, students may not have the religious background to fit in
        • Special education is handled in varied ways throughout the world, from mainstream educational options in the United States, to China, where few schools have an open-minded approach, and few teachers are taught to teach children with learning or other disabilities.
          1. Before moving a family, allow them time and means to review curriculum of the school in the host country, and discuss it with teachers back home. Evaluating where a child may be ahead or behind enables parents and schools to develop programs that assist in entry as well as re-entry.
          2. Recommend that families bring along books, course outlines and any other aids to maintaining academic skills required at home so that kids can keep abreast of knowledge required for repatriation.
          3. Find out the exit requirements for schools in the home country before leaving. These, in particular, will determine curriculum to continue studying while abroad. Can these be satisfied on assignment, and if so, what kind of policy do you need to support these additional costs?
          4. Decide what kinds of supplemental or alternative education your company will allow to reduce hardship for children whose families are sent on assignment, particularly at key grade levels. These may include tutoring, on-line courses, summer school, home schooling or boarding schools.
          5. If schooling is totally incompatible, is it possible for the employee or the family to repatriate either a year earlier or later, as appropriate to facilitate the transition?
          6. Provide opportunity for students to become proficient in reading and writing as well as speaking of the new language well before the move; in fact, as soon as the move is announced is best.
          7. Engage a professional who understands discrepancies in curriculum as well as culture to recommend individualized support so that students can be prepared before returning home.
          8. Repatriation is always difficult for children, since even international schools teach different curriculum, have different course sequences, and offer different languages and promote different viewpoints when teaching history. Children who have attended local schools in remote areas may be more significantly unprepared to attend school back home or enroll in university in their home country. Be sure to pay careful attention to home country requirements before assignments begin.
    • Insufficient International Schools Worldwide

        Insufficient International Schools Worldwide: Are New Schools the Answer?

        by Liz Perelstein, School Choice International

        Whether your clients are moving to New York, Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, Moscow, or Mumbai, the demand for quality education outstrips the supply of suitable school places for families in transition. In response, there has been rapid growth in the number of new schools being opened internationally by entrepreneurial, for-profit franchises that have the ability to launch on short notice.

        Are they the answer?

        These new schools certainly have alleviated waitlists in locations where numbers of student places were limited and one or more companies have expanded quickly, with insufficient time for schools to grow organically to absorb the increase in population. New schools definitely relieve the burden of inequality between demand and supply, ensuring there are adequate numbers of seats in schools in certain prime destinations. Corporations and destination service providers are cautiously optimistic as past overtures towards schools requesting ways to jump waitlists and circumvent the traditional processes have met with little success in the international school arena. There are simply too many suitable students competing for limited places for one company to be favored over another.

        However, new schools are not met with unqualified enthusiasm by families. Parents expect that it will be difficult to get a place at a "good" school and therefore a school that is easy to get into, is necessarily suspect. We live in an age where information is readily available. And often, publicly reported rankings contribute to a school's reputation. For new schools, with no track record, or ongoing school placements to boast, this may be an insurmountable problem unless the parent company has an established reputation, like Dulwich College in Shanghai or Repton School, in Dubai. Having devoted years to orchestrate their children's first educational experience, relocating parents are unwilling to take risks on their offspring in this child-centered age. Even reputable school chains, such as Dulwich College, may have issues in some locations, as their 7 year attempt to run a school in Phuket revealed when they precipitously pulled their name from that franchise, leaving it the "British International College of Thailand" in 2005.

        What do parents want?

        Most parents want equivalent schools to those they would have sent their children to at home and are wary of new schools. Parents who will consider a new school are relatively rare. I always have been fascinated by families attracted to new schools - particularly those who choose new schools when turning down places in longstanding schools with fine reputations. These families tend to be more entrepreneurial, or risk taking, seeking the kind of community that only comes with sharing a meaningful experience together. Some parents like to have an impact on hiring of teachers and administrators, shaping the educational program, building playground equipment by hand and being involved in their children's school, not simply their education, in a significant way. These are very different types of families than those who will choose a school based on reputation or hearsay alone.

        But these families are atypical and few parents feel confident in their ability to judge underlying quality of education, relying instead on tangible, quantifiable measures that new schools cannot yet offer. As a result, when it comes to new schools, even under duress, not all parents buy-in. Although they may not understand all the intangibles, today's parents are demanding with regard to their children and savvy when it comes to standards. Few are easily swayed by luxurious facilities and smooth sounding curricula. They want to see track records; they want proven results.

        What does this mean for international transferees?

        The new, for-profit schools will only resolve the waitlist crisis if they can be vetted. Sophisticated parents who have spent years investing in the process of getting their children into the "right" schools, want reassurance that the new schools will provide quality education to prepare their children effectively for the next level of education and keep them on track for repatriation.

        Families need to know that they are making thoughtful decisions, rather than putting their children in schools out of fear, knee-jerk reactions, or because of limited availability. New schools need to be evaluated against the family's own criteria. Parents need to know they are in knowledgeable hands of experts who can point out pros and cons of new vs. old schools, showing them an array of schools on look-see visits. These should include both old and new alternatives, and making sure families know what kinds of factors to look for in making their own determinations.

        Families will want an honest assessment of the risks and tradeoffs they may be getting into when enrolling in a school. I would, under no circumstances, counsel families to avoid all new schools. Nor do I think that longstanding schools, as a rule, are superior to new schools. Just as is the case with children, schools must be judged on an individual basis. I like to provide parents with the pros and cons of every alternative and help them to make a decision that suits the value system of their family. What is important to me, as an educational consultant, is to provide an even-handed portrayal of both sides of the argument.

        As School Choice International consultants, it is our job to understand the generic pros and cons of new vs., existing schools, and to be able to quickly observe signs of quality vs. signs of superficial lip service to a new "educational trend," without genuine commitment behind it. These are some of the factors we consider.

        How do you evaluate a school?

        The broad parameters to work within are:

        1. 1. Style - is the school progressive or traditional?
        2. 2. Emphasis - focus on academics, sports, arts, drama etc.
        3. 3. Data - class sizes, gender balance, student:teacher ratios etc. (When presenting data, it is always important to discuss how data can be offered to support any point, e.g., student: teacher ratios may include specialist teachers who are not actually in the classroom with the child.)

        Some ideas of things to look for:

        1. Is the head of school a visionary?
        2. How do the children respond to administrators and teachers?
        3. Is artwork done by children or is it mechanically produced by copying adult work?
        4. Are teachers and administrators more concerned with superficial matters - rank, reputation, college acceptances - or with transfer of knowledge, development of global citizens, self-esteem?
        5. What is the philosophy of reading and writing and arithmetic?
        6. What is the purpose of homework?
        7. What is the attitude towards risk taking for students?
        8. What is the experience of the international or transferring child?

        What are the pros and cons of new schools?

        The pros of new schools may be:

        1. Enthusiasm
        2. Class sizes are small/teacher: student ratios are excellent
        3. Often up-to-date with the latest educational trends
        4. Keen to earn their reputations, as they don't have reputations to rely upon
        5. Facilities often are brand news and may be lavish

        The cons:

        1. Sometimes educationally under-resourced
        2. May not have a unity of purpose
        3. Curriculum may lack cogency
        4. Staff turnover can be high while teething problems are ironed out
        5. School policies may be fine in theory but need to be fine tuned in practice
        6. More children with behavioral difficulties may be admitted to fill places
        7. Children may not have an adequate peer group

        It is easy to identify a school with a visionary leader and a clear mission. You will encounter passion among anyone you speak with from the parents to administrators to cleaning personnel. Everyone will be united behind a sense of purpose. The curriculum may or may not be trendy, but it will be consistent and clear, and everyone will know what they have signed on for. Educational materials and resources will support the curriculum. I always feel comfortable pointing out that a school stands for certain principles, and that by joining the school community, parents are choosing to align themselves with these.

        In contrast, other new schools may not know what they stand for. They may arise in response to a market opportunity, and may have a lovely site, and excellent teachers and administrators. But the sense of purpose or clarity of vision often will be lacking.

        And established schools?

        The advantages in terms of an existing track record, a stable management structure, a clear well executed curriculum, longstanding staff members, a large student body and ample activities and resources are clear. The disadvantages are that they may rest on former reputation and may not be doing as much to earn it as new schools; they may have faculty who have been around too long; their facilities may be overcrowded or dated.

        Just because a school has been around for many years does not suggest it is a better choice. I have worked in schools with outstanding reputations, where hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on technology that the teachers refused to learn to use, or where teachers would not spend ten minutes of a lunch hour to assist a child because it was not in their union contract. I have worked in other schools with low test scores where teachers routinely gave up their evenings and weekends to attend children's music recitals and sporting events.

        Is the school for profit or not for profit?

        The impact of the profit status of the school on the way it operates cannot be overlooked in both new and old schools. For-profit schools naturally have to maximize profitability and they may do so by offering a quality education or they may do so by offering a substandard, under-funded education.

        In not-for-profit schools all the money raised goes towards the children's education but in some countries, parents may be expected to contribute to the school far in excess of their school fees. In today's market, not-for-profit schools have less motivation to be concerned with efficiency. On the other hand, without a profit incentive, they only exist to serve children.

        Parents should be aware of the financial status of the school and how this manifests in terms of the children's education. Neither status is superior to the other, but parents should examine all schools for related red flags that suggest values inconsistent with their own.

        There are also governing authorities that provide checks and balances on health and safety as well as curriculum. However, effectiveness of rules and regulations, in reality, are culturally dependent and, for a newcomer, can be particularly difficult to discern.

        Conclusion

        In the end, school quality is not a matter of scores or age or reputation. Education is a "people business" and school quality changes as its people do. Schools that inspire children to love learning, and deliver a curriculum with a purpose in a way that makes sense, particularly in a global setting, can be thrilling places for children and for adults. Relationships with teachers can change children's lives - for better or for worse. The ethos of a school and the way it is carried out, and by whom, is what really matters.

        New schools will become less new over time. Some will succeed and others will fail. They all will develop reputations, statistics and track records from which parents will be able to make selection decisions that they feel are informed. But for now, it is incumbent on us, in the relocation community, to make it easier for assignees to move by giving them the tools to evaluate the range of new educational options that have suddenly become available.

    • International Schools: Localization of Corporate Education
    • Welcome to VUCA World: How do you set Education Policy?
    • White papers - The Economic Crisis Hits Home

        The Economic Crisis Hits Home: "I can't afford to keep my child in private school- now what?"

        by Liz Perelstein, School Choice International

        The Mandel family had always identified education as their top priority. With 3 children born at 3 year intervals, the path to getting them into the family's desired private schools had been fraught with anxiety until recently. Finally, when Katie, the youngest, entered Kindergarten last year, all three were finally in the same school, at the same location, and on the same schedule. Alice Mandel was thinking about returning to work in a part-time capacity, and Richard breathed a sigh of relief. The children enjoyed seeing each other during the day, and all were learning, had friends, and were thriving in various ways.

        In September, 2008, the life that seemed "too good to be true" suddenly was too good to be true, when Richard was laid off just as Katie began first grade. Alice and Richard began talking about alternatives, and realized that they had to make major cuts in their household spending, and selling their apartment for the price they paid for it would not be easy in a down market. They were prepared to apply for financial aid but knew that already scarce resources would be unlikely to obtain in the current economic climate. They would have to rethink their children's private school for the following academic year.

        Alice could not envision moving her children before high school, or asking them to leave their friends and their familiar environment. She could not imagine anything worse.

        Is it damaging to move children in the middle of their education?

        Of course change is difficult, for adults and children alike. But Alice did not have to be so concerned about the impact of changing schools on her children. At School Choice International we work with families being moved by their companies or otherwise wishing to make a change in their child's academic situation. All of them move schools for one reason or another, often mid-year, and many on short notice. Some of our families move to a different country, and children may have to learn a new language.

        What we have learned in over a decade of helping families find the right schools for their children, is that change is often a wonderful opportunity. Parents choose the initial school for a child without a great deal of understanding of who their child is. They have a value system and recommendations from friends and colleagues, but at ages 3, 4 or 5, they do not know much about the child they are placing in school. The older a child is when the new school decision is made, the better equipped the parents are (and, if old enough, the child) to make a good match between the academic abilities and interests of the child, as well as learning style, and his or her extra curricular orientations. Children who are thoughtfully placed at an older age, based on the needs of the child rather than names of schools, can go on to have outstanding school experiences, taking risks that are difficult when they are entrenched in a peer group, or reinventing themselves in other ways.

        In addition, children learn a huge amount from the process of change. They learn that one can't control the future, and that they can adapt quickly. They learn how to make new friends - to say hello and good-bye. They learn to recognize their own style of developing friendships - "am I the type of child who has a sleepover the first weekend, but needs to go through several different groups to find compatible peers?" "Or do I watch everyone before making a selection, finally making friends for life?" Once youngsters can identify their own style, being new isn't as threatening the next time around, because they can watch and name the various phases of their adjustment, and know that at the end of it they will indeed have friends. When children know they can cope with being alone, they are less susceptible to peer pressure as teenagers, and can make wise independent decisions rather than following the crowd. Change teaches young people self-confidence and life skills that will stand them in good stead and prepare them for the global and unpredictable world they are growing up in.

        How do I find a public school that I like?

        The NYC Board of Education website is an excellent starting place: http://schools.nyc.gov/. NYC School Reports are published under the following URL: http://schools.nyc.gov/daa/schoolreports/. And Clara Hemphill publishes a variety of books on NYC public schools which are available on Amazon.

        The next step is to visit your local public school. If you have any doubt which school that is, dial 311. All public schools have tours or open days, so phone to find out the next tour date. There is really no substitute for a visit. Come prepared with all of your questions and make sure you have an opportunity to ask them and receive answers. If the tour is too crowded and no one is available to answer your individual questions, make an appointment for a subsequent conversation in person or by phone with a principal or parent coordinator so that you can make sure you have sufficient information to decide whether or not this is the right school for your child. There are many wonderful public schools in NYC, but you need enough information to be sure that the one in your vicinity is the right one.

        In addition to neighborhood schools, there are many special schools in NYC that meet the unique needs of children of different ages. Here is a brief summary.

        With the exception of those for children with special needs, nursery schools for children under 4 are private in New York City. Not all public schools have pre-K programs, so those who want to enroll 4 year olds must consider schools outside their neighborhood and go through an application process.

        Pre-School:

        Timetable:

        1. Process for pre-K (4-year old) applications begins in March
        2. Families receive acceptance from Office of Student Enrollment by May
        3. Second round deadline in July

        Elementary:

        Here is a list of elementary schools that a child may attend outside one's neighborhood that require an application.

        Charter schools:

        1. There are 60, and an increasingly growing number, of charter schools, designed to bring innovative leaders and resources to the public schools. Enrollment by lottery with preference to siblings.

        Gifted Programs:

        1. Gifted and Talented programs operate under two different models - either a self-contained classroom, in which like students are taught together in all subject areas, or a school wide enrichment model in which enrichment resources, acceleration is offered and groupings are determined according to content area.

        Timetable:

        1. Public Gifted and Talented Schools and Classrooms require a request for testing in December. Final deadline is mid-January.

        Hunter College operates a school for academically and intellectually gifted children; the only entry point is Kindergarten.

        1. Hunter Elementary School applications are mailed beginning Sept. 2008 for 2009 and must be submitted by mid November. Parents arrange first round of testing after applications are submitted and second round takes place at the end of January, 2009 at the school.

        Secondary:

        In addition to local public high schools, there are nine specialized high schools in New York City. Entrance is determined on the basis of examination or audition, in the case of LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts.

        1. Stuyvesant High School
        2. Bronx High School of Science
        3. Staten Island Technical High School
        4. The Brooklyn Latin School
        5. Brooklyn Technical High School
        6. Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
        7. High School of American Studies at Lehman College
        8. High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College
        9. Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (LaGuardia High School)

        Hunter College High School and Bard High School Early College are two additional specialized schools with competitive admissions processes that fall outside the NYC Board of Education.

        Finally, the Board of Education operates charter schools, career and technical schools, small schools of approximately 500 students, as well as small learning communities.

        Special Education:

        By law, a child with special needs is eligible for testing and to receive publicly funded services even before his/her 3rd birthday. Districts must provide schooling and related services, plus transportation, even if they are not available in district.

        The NYC Board of Education serves students with special needs ranging from mild to the most severe. In keeping with LRE, most are enrolled in "general education" schools, attending classes with students who do not have disabilities. In some cases, these students are in "Collaborative Team Teaching" classrooms, in which a general education teacher and a special education teacher teach special and mainstream students together in a single class. When indicated by a student's IEP, a special education student will attend self-contained special education classes in general education schools. There also are special schools available for students whose challenges cannot be addressed within mainstream schools.

        Conclusion:

        Just as Alice and Richard are considering new alternatives, they will find that their friends and former colleagues will soon also be looking at previously unexplored schools in New York City. Disruptive change is always difficult but it can present an opportunity. Parents who do their homework can get to know their children better and match them to the public school that best meets their needs. The silver lining in the current economic crisis can be raising children who have self-confidence and life skills, in addition to academic knowledge.

  • Moving
    • Finding the Right School
    • General Articles Related to Moving
    • Got-to-Go: What to Know!

        Got-to-Go: What to Know! Minimizing Schooling Challenges When Repatriation is Abrupt

        Elizabeth Perelstein, President School Choice International; www.GlobalEducationExplorer.com; www.SchoolChoiceIntl.com • liz@schoolchoiceintl.com

        Scenario for HR Managers

        You moved a family with three children to London at the start of the academic year. As a result of the recession, you are moving the assignee home next week. The family of 5 was transferred on an expat package. You are not prepared to continue paying the expat allowance until the school year is completed. The parents are distressed because of their children. The spouse, who was reluctant to move at the outset because she feared her children's transition issues, is at a loss.

        Repatriation and Children: The Social Experience

        It is commonly known that repatriation is difficult. And, while not often recognized, repatriation for children may be as hard, if not harder than it is for adults. Just as for their parents, children have changed as a result of their time abroad, and so have their friends back home, so fitting in with the old group isn't easy, and, in fact, may not be possible. Expectations of the return home are typically high. For many children, the entire assignment has been spent waiting for this date. Invariably, hopes are shattered, and the former community doesn't meet a child's expectations.

        And, my own daughter wrote the following poem on the plane home anticipating her return:

        As thoughts wander in and out of my head I decide that the best thing to pass the time would be to sleep Though these aren't exactly first class seats they're good enough to view the clouds and the miniatures below me Only two hours left here In suspense But at the same time knowing how this story would end Or begin Excitement circulates throughout my body knowing that within time I will be with my heart Though I haven't been for what seems like forever questions so many but only for the lapse of time But for myself too to answer Have they changed? Better yet, have I? Too much thinking Taking my own advice I decide to let whatever happens happen Nothing now could ruin my mood as we descend down, to the place I once knew and hope to again know as home This piece too descends to its conclusion. (Sarah Perelstein)

        Imagine her disappointment when she found that she had nothing in common with her former friends, her former world felt provincial, and it was "not cool to be smart" in her old school. My daughter's experiences, unfortunately, were quite common among children who repatriate to their former home.

        Repatriation and Children: The Academic Experience

        Among children who repatriate, whether or not they return to their previous town or city, curriculum rarely matches, courses may be taught in a different sequence, and students may find that they lack prerequisites for classes they are about to take. Other children find that they have already read the books on their reading list, or may be ahead in foreign language. Teachers at home may be threatened by their advanced levels of knowledge or simply may not know how to teach a child who is out of step with his or her classmates. For high school students, meeting exit requirements for graduation may not be possible, or may require significant negotiation or manipulation.

        The Current Climate

        The present economic climate has caused companies to look carefully at every expenditure, and expatriate packages are easy targets. Families are being moved home earlier than had been planned, or transferred to local status.

        "In recent months, companies have begun recalling expats from multiyear assignments up to 12 months early....The CEO of a Pacific Northwest manufacturer who requested his publicly traded company's name not be used is pulling his European division manager home after only eight months of a two-year assignment because the business can't continue to foot the $500,000 annual bill for his salary and living expenses. Source: Workforce.com, March 5, 2009

        These corporate decisions have a huge impact on families with children who have expected to complete an academic year in one location, or had not applied to desired private schools within the necessary timetable.

        In addition to the typical challenges that repatriating children face, children moved home abruptly may have even a more difficult time getting into private or specialized public schools that do not offer mid-year admissions. They may not have the ability to participate on sports teams or in plays or musical groups because these roles already have been filled. They may lack knowledge or prerequisites to thrive in classes in a different country where a different curriculum is studied. Even able children who may succeed without a foundation in a given subject may not be allowed to enter a class mid-year if placement testing is required.

        While changing curriculum is a challenge for any repatriating child, adequate time gives a family the opportunity to tutor and otherwise prepare children for their new academic program, as well as to seek out alternative school options where the discrepancies may not be as great.

        And time is a luxury that sudden repatriations do not permit.

        From an emotional standpoint, there are complications involved when repatriation is unexpected as well. Children may experience shame that the story they told friends when they moved abroad is no longer true. And, if not prepared carefully, they may feel responsible in some way for the departure.

        Got-to-Go; What to Know! If you must move a family on short notice mid-year, providing them with an education departure toolkit goes a long way towards relieving anxiety for them, and retaining their loyalty to you. A toolkit should prepare parents and children with what to expect, and give them an approach for entering their new school environment.

        Tips for Emotional Departure Success

        Say goodbye well;

        Take lots of pictures;

        Revisit favorite places;

        Get all important email addresses;

        Have a party.

        Tips for Academic Departure Success

        Identify key supporters at school and obtain contact details in case family needs anything after leaving: Take hard copies of transcripts and know how to obtain soft copies; Ask school to write up basis for grading if appropriate; Get teacher recommendations while still familiar to teachers; Talk to teachers about types of school where child would thrive in new home; Bring description of curriculum by subject; Gather awards, certificates, or physical evidence of qualifications achieved; Bring medical certificates in hand luggage.

        Tips for Academic Success on Arrival

        Have any documents translated; Find out health requirements for new school (more than one day before starting) and plan for medical exam in new home; Understand age/grade relationships as well as schoolwork/grade relationships; Discuss relative merits of age vs. schoolwork for grade placement with head of school; Understand curriculum; Learn application process and deadlines; Advocate for child about entering sports and other extracurricular programs mid-year.

        Most of all, parents must understand and take the time to explain to their children that they have done nothing to cause the premature move. Children have to be able to save face in front of their friends.

        Families might develop a script, explaining that economic circumstances have affected everyone worldwide, and for different people, the consequences have played out in different ways. In some cases, parents have lost jobs, others have moved to new houses, and their family has moved home early.

        If a company recognizes the impact of its decisions and policies on families, and provides minimal support during this abrupt transition period, the impact on employee morale and productivity will have a significant impact for a long time to come.

        ABOUT THE AUTHOR

        Elizabeth Perelstein is the President and Founder of School Choice International. School Choice International delivers peace of mind to global corporations and the families they move with a team of 90 experienced consultants on the ground in 50 locations worldwide, including 9 special educators assisting families relocating or repatriating internationally or domestically choose the right schools for their children. School Choice International is recognized as the industry expert, bringing new initiatives to the educational arena.

    • How to Prepare for School Placement Interviews

        How to Prepare for School Placement Interviews

        From TotallyExpat.com

        The expatriate family life means constantly finding new schools, and often these are private schools with intense application processes, lots of paperwork and the all-important interview. Preparing for a school placement interview can be daunting, especially if you are a new parent, entering a new system (in a foreign country for instance), or applying for that "A list" school in your neighborhood. Besides being on time and dressing appropriately, there are a few things you can do to prepare for the interview. First, here are some potential questions you may be asked:

        • How long is your placement for?
        • Specifically why you have chosen this school to apply to?
        • What are your child's interests?
        • What are your child's strengths?
        • What are your child's weaknesses?
        • If offered places, would you send all of your children here?

        Be prepared for these questions with well developed answers, even if your experience differs from the typical student the school serves. It behooves you to be as honest as possible, so school administrators can effectively decide if the school is a good match for your child. Be candid about your child's academic and extra curricular interests, strengths and weaknesses. These factors will help lead discussion on how to best integrate your child into the specific school system; for instance an elementary school child might have a learning style that would be best served by a specific teacher.

        If you can, be prepared to describe the last school system your child was in, and how it differs from that of the culture you may be entering (you can find this information in Global Education ExplorerTM). This information can help admissions personnel understand your circumstances and your child's body of prior knowledge.

        Schools want families that will fit in their ethos, so make sure to do your homework and come with a few good reasons for wanting your child to attend the school. You may also come up with a few questions of your own to show interest and engagement.

        Finally, if you have middle or high school students, you may want to discuss these questions with him or her before the interview. Also discuss long term academic plans to ensure the school will adequately prepare your child for life beyond high school. Remember that extracurricular activities may be very important for older students to fit in, for instance, debate might be especially important for some, while others might be passionate about athletics. These groups will give your child a way to fit in to the school community.

        Above all, be confident and try to have fun.

    • Managing Education And Schooling
    • Moving Families to Asia?

        Caution: Think Schooling First In Hong Kong, and most of Asia for that matter, presents the expatriate on assignment with a wide variety of challenges -- not the least of which is the availability and admission to educational institutions. Liz Perelstein, president School Choice International dispels, the myths surrounding school admissions in Hong Kong and Asia providing both an overview of the issues and identifying valuable realities. Click here to read article as printed in Mobility Magazine

    • Moving to a Location Where Education Options Are Limited

        Moving to a Location Where Education Options Are Limited: Strategies for Success

        by Meret Piderman, School Choice International

        Published in MOBILITY Magazine, September 2008

        Today's families may be faced with assignments in which education options are few and far between, including the unavailability of international or national schools where the students will be taught in their home language. Piderman shares her personal experience locating education options for her three children while on assignment in Italy, and identifies strategies for success.

        By Meret Piderman

        When asked to consider an assignment abroad, your family may be faced with school options that are both limited and very different from those to which it has grown accustomed. Expatriate assignments are changing, with fewer companies sending families to traditional destinations such as London, United Kingdom; or Paris, France. Even Shanghai and Beijing, China, today considered mainstream locations, have been replaced by lesser-known locations in China or Eastern Europe.

        Although an adjustment at the outset, international assignments can be enriching experiences for a family, and locating an appropriate school to match the needs of the accompanying children is key to long-term assignment success.

        Being Prepared-or Not

        You and your family have accepted an overseas assignment. Now you need to choose a school that hopefully will be the right fit for your children to thrive. But what if your options are severely limited? What if there is only one school? Asking the right questions from the start will help you decide if taking the assignment will be worthwhile, or even possible. From my own experience, I know how difficult it can be if you do not prepare appropriately.

        When we expatriated to Italy with three sons in tow, the only thing I took with us was faith that the schooling situation would work out. After all, how different could school be in Italy? Surely the piazza life would make up for any imperfections in the school system. Without hesitation, I enrolled one son in scoula materna (kindergarten), one son in elementare (elementary school), and the oldest in scoula media (middle school).

        The first hurdle was convincing the school's headmaster that the boys' school records from New York were not falsified because they did not have an official stamp of approval, otherwise known as a "bollo." Still undeterred, I admit I became more concerned when I was forced to put my fifth-grader in fourth grade because they said he would never pass the mandatory end-of-year Italian state exams.

        When I asked through my translator what kind of Italian language support the boys would receive at school, the headmaster shrugged and said, "None. You must speak Italian with them at home."

        My despairing reply, "But, I don't speak Italian," only afforded me another shrug. It was a rude awakening; school in Italy would indeed be different. And it was not simply a matter of language; I knew we would all learn Italian. It was the cultural differences that would continue to make the experience uncomfortable. I was accustomed to being involved with the boys' school.

        As a mother and former teacher, I believed that I knew what was best for them, and losing my voice-both literally and figuratively-was unendurable.

        Within a month, I enrolled my children in the only bilingual school within 25 miles. Sadly, this school did not proceed beyond the seventh grade, so my oldest son spent six months moving from one school to another while we sorted it all out.

        Consider the Interactions

        I soon found out that my other children who enrolled in an "international" school were not in what could be considered a traditional international school at all. Quite the contrary; it turned out to be a school founded by a Dutch woman who started it for her own children to meet very specific and personal needs. Although it was called an "international school," I soon realized that this school was comprised mostly of local children whose parents did not want them in public schools. The actual international population was practically non-existent, so the peer group one hopes his or her child would encounter in a true international school did not exist.

        Because the student body likely did not require it, the school did not offer extra support in Italian though, unlike the public school, it did provide extra patience.

        International schools in far-flung locations can be quite small in size, which may correspond to few children in each grade. For children who thrive within these types of conditions, this situation can be ideal; for others, an insufficient peer group can be a problem, particularly in adolescence when the numbers begin to decrease as parents become more protective about these matters and move their children to more suitable environments when possible.

        By the time my middle son reached the seventh grade, his entire class consisted of four boys and seven girls. As it turned out, none of his classmates became his friends. They were all nice enough, but sometimes the chemistry is not right, and when cultural differences are so extreme, finding the right friends can be even more difficult.

        As my son became more withdrawn, we realized we needed to change his school situation. We sent him to the next city with his older brother-two train rides and a city bus ride away. Although the commute was arduous for a seventh grader, and something a parent may shy away from at first blush, the difference in his demeanor made it clear that we had made the right decision. He immediately made two new friends, and sometimes having friends can make all the difference.

        Small schools in out-of-the-way places not only have equally small expatriate populations, they also have a small pool of teachers from which to choose. This applies particularly to international teachers-who typically add richness to a school. Not only is the diversity lacking but, as a result of the limited pool, qualifications also may be in short supply.

        Before You Leave

        Prior to assignment departure, it is a good idea to get a reading list from your child's home country school. Consider taking along these textbooks, as well as educational DVDs, games, and other age-appropriate materials to assist in keeping your child on pace with the home country school. In all likelihood, the family will return to its home location at the conclusion of the assignment and this process will assist with reintegration.

        In general, the older the child, the more tricky it will be to fulfill his or her school requirements when returning home. My son was a senior in high school when we moved back. He had to take New York State Regents tests, tenth-grade health, and two gym classes to graduate. This took a lot of time away from the Advanced Placement (AP) classes he should have been taking to prepare him for his college applications. Think about the grade the student will be in when returning to the home country and the requirements for graduation:

        1. If the requirements are difficult, is there a possibility of returning a year earlier or a year later?
        2. Are there requirements that can be fulfilled overseas to reduce the number of basic courses necessary to graduate?
        3. The earlier you begin obtaining approval for online or summer alternatives as ways to fulfill these requirements, the more likely you will succeed.
        4. Is it possible to negotiate your way out of some basic requirements on repatriation in recognition of the experiences your children have had?If not in your school system, perhaps in another one?
        5. Does a private school have more flexibility in dismissing requirements than a public school, allowing your child to complete school and still have a meaningful academic experience?

        Although it sometimes seems counterintuitive, the school search on repatriation should be given as much thought as finding a school on the overseas move.

        The Trade-off

        Although I had gone into our five years in Italy unaware of what my children's education would bring, I have few regrets from the experience.

        Clearly, having done my homework and being better prepared could have saved all of us several transitions and difficult experiences. But each of these experiences illuminated a part of the Italian culture that we never would have seen had we enrolled directly in a more conventional international school.

        And schooling aside, the overseas assignment brought our family much closer. My sons bonded in a totally different way than do siblings who have never lived abroad. My children are fluent in Italian. The five eventful years we spent in Italy were filled with travel and other assorted memorable times. We are very happy to return home richer as a result of all the experiences in which those years provided.

    • Moving With Children: Which are the Top Ten Schools?

        Relocating families often rely on friends, colleagues and the internet when they face the daunting task of finding the right school for their child in a new location. In the frenzy of things they need to accomplish in order to actually move, numbers or statistics are a reasonable proxy for quality - or at least the easiest one that is available. In some places, schools, both public and private, are ranked on a national level. In others, only the public sector may be ranked and comparison may only be possible state-wide rather than at the national level. And then there are many locations where private, fee-paying, schools simply do not allow themselves to be evaluated. So at best, relocating families using rankings to identify suitable schools will find only a percentage of those actually available.

        Anyone who understands children or child development is aware that not every child thrives in the same academic environment. Despite this obvious point, even under stable circumstances, well intentioned but impressionable parents use every tool in their arsenal to "get their children in" to the schools that someone has identified as "top" or "best." The sad result has been revealed to me in countless conversations with private school admissions officers and psychologists: "getting in" isn't enough. Children pushed beyond their capacity -either intellectual or emotional, are those who fail, get counseled out, or who inevitably suffer from low self-esteem. Often they are subjected to daily tutoring rather than using the hours after school to play with friends, participate in sport, or learn music or ballet.

        The debate around rankings centers on the tension between accountability, which most consumers of education agree is worthwhile, versus the ability of statistics to accurately capture what a school, is about - particularly as it is a "people" business. When numbers refer to class size or teacher/student ratio, there is little doubt that small classes, individualized attention and ready access to faculty provide students with unparalleled opportunities. But in some instances rankings rely on university admissions - a criterion which is imperfect, at best. Are university admissions determined by high test scores or rigorous curriculum? Are they a function of which schools the kids attend or how they perform? Or are students admitted based on family connections, monetary donations or other measures that a new parent seeking a school for his/her child may not be aware of?

        Unfortunately, parents and students take lists of "top" schools very literally; they reinforce the natural insecurity in human nature and encourage parents to focus exclusively on the name brand. For families in transition, there may be few other mechanisms to determine quality. Do facilities matter? Do children need - or even benefit from - country club like campuses? Should parents be looking at access to facilities rather than grounds and equipment per se? Who gets to play on the 15 tennis courts or the eight lane competition swimming pool or the golf course? Will their child have that opportunity? Do these schools use their lavish facilities to teach sportsmanship or to win? Is the risk-taking behavior and self-confidence encouraged by favorable teacher/student ratios undercut by the exclusivity and competitive spirit that characterize some of these schools?

        Parents need to ask the right questions to assess whether a particular school is right for their children. And the right list of questions depends on the child, his or her background as well as personal qualities - not on factors intrinsic to the school alone. For families on the move it may be desirable to get objective assistance to help make a school selection for their child that is right for today, as well as for tomorrow.

        By Liz Perelstein

        For Totallyexpat.com

    • The Role of Education in Relocation

        Under Contruction

    • White papers - Choosing the Right School When Abroad

        The Role of Education in Relocation

        Elizabeth Perelstein

        President, School Choice International

        When families with children relocate, schooling often is the most stressful aspect of the move. Will my child miss her old friends? Will he make new ones? Will he get into a good school? How will she fare in a new country, forced to communicate in a new language? Will she be challenged? Will he be too challenged? If he doesn't get into the right school, what will I tell my friends? Will she get back into her former school when we move home?

        When moving to a new country the choice of school is a pivotal element in integrating into a new country, a new community, and a new network of friends. When a family gets the school right, the entire move starts out on the right foot. Considering its importance for the child as well as for the family, choosing a school when relocating can be a daunting prospect.

        At a time when traditionally you may feel you have little or no choice, I believe that a move is, in fact, an unrepeatable and exciting opportunity to envision and create nothing less than a whole new life for your child and your family

        In selecting a school in a new location, parents sometimes need to be reminded to look beyond the immediate pain of transition to the lessons ultimately learned. When parents can reframe temporary adversity as an experience that teaches children to embrace the unexpected, solve problems and advocate for themselves, they are suddenly relieved from guilt and empowered to make difficult decisions that ultimately are in the best interests of their child. The school search is a chance to reflect on one's child and get him/her on the right path for life. A thoughtful school search helps relocating parents understand what education really means, and what a transformative opportunity an overseas assignment can offer.

    • White papers - Finding the Best School Abroad: Top 10 Tips

        Finding the Best School Abroad Top 10 Tips

        • 1. Separate your child from yourself. Learn all you can from your colleagues and friends, but recognize that your child is an individual and a solution that works for one child will not necessarily work for another.
        • 2. Consider all possible options - public/private, local, national and international. Don't narrow your options by approaching the situation with preconceived notions.
        • 4. There is not just 'one' school that is right for your child. There will be many good options; each choice will have pros & cons. Do your homework. When visiting schools, ask a lot of questions and get as much information as you can.
        • 5. There is no substitute for a visit. Make sure to visit a range of schools which include those you think you want to see as well as those that seem somewhat less obvious.
        • 6. Don't be fooled by scores. Numbers don't tell the whole story. Statistics can be manipulated to make any case. Test scores often reflect teaching to the test rather than teaching critical thinking skills. Test material, may not challenge the top learners.
        • 7. Facilities matter more to parents than they do to children. Think about what your children really need to have a successful educational experience. In most cases, relationships with teachers and the peer group make a much greater difference.
        • 8. Children in transition have difficulties. What are the support systems when things break down? Is the school proactive along these lines? What kind of communication is built in between faculty and parents?
        • 9. Families who have never moved and are not planning to move have very different needs than children in transition. Focus on the needs of your child.
        • 10. Be open minded - sometimes a school that you don't think you want is the one in which your child will thrive.
    • White papers - Preparing for Transitions

        Preparing for Transitions

        by Liz Perelstein and Namita Khanna, School Choice International

        Introduction

        As parents, our instincts are to protect our children from transitions. While admittedly difficult, children who master the art of transition develop life skills and confidence that equip them for anything they will face in the future. They know how to easily make new friends, adapt to change, take risks and take advantage of opportunities presented by their careers and personal lives. Children who have dealt with and overcome adversity are confident that they can, again, face any challenge that life puts in their path.

        So our job, as parents, is not to shield our children from adversity, but to help them manage it, develop lifelong skills as a result, and understand what they are doing so that they can draw upon these skills when they need them later. The following are some tips to help you help your children through the difficult times of transition, and to understand when a problem is more than situational, and may require expert advice.

        Why Relocate Internationally?

        If you are confident that your children will be enriched by an international assignment, you will automatically convey your overall enthusiasm, despite the inevitable difficult moments you face along the way. Be sure to figure out what inspires you before you try to either convince, or alternatively support, anyone else in your family through the transition.

        If you have any doubts yourself about the experience, the list of benefits below may include one or more items that really "speak" to you:

        1. Travel, in your new country, and in the region
        2. Develop a network of friends worldwide
        3. Become a global citizen - develop a broader vision by learning how others live
        4. Welcome diversity and celebrate differences
        5. Become open minded when you acknowledge that there is no right way to do anything
        6. Learn to question, including your own culture and its values
        7. Develop a sense of community service, particularly if you live in an underprivileged country
        8. Develop strong bonds with your immediate family, the only constants in your life who have shared your experiences
        9. Learn new languages and the ability to learn more new languages

        When the "going gets tough" pull out your list to help you remember what ever made you think this move was a good idea.

        Planning for your Move

        Like anything else, moving goes better for everyone in the family when you've planned well. The first thing to think about is involving everyone in the family in the arrangements, in age appropriate and meaningful ways. Whether you engage your children in selecting items for their new rooms or in planning a good-bye party, you will help them identify as valued members of the team, encouraging them to invest in the decision and giving them a focus when you are occupied.

        An international move is a major disruption for the whole family over a long period of time. Be organized about all aspects, and don't leave things to chance. If organization is not your strength, involve someone who does excel in this trait - maybe a teenage child can be the project manager. But you don't want to pack your children's immunization certificates in your container, or end up with other irreversible consequences, so force yourself to do your research, make lists, and be diligent in your follow through.

        Even if you have moved before and are very experienced at transitions, each place is different, and there is no substitute for doing your homework. It is important to learn about local norms and family dynamics as well as where to find a doctor or shop. Every culture is different and, while exploring a new culture and choosing to assimilate on some levels, you will still want to keep your family true to your own values and rules. If you haven't learned what to expect in advance of your arrival, you may find yourself making some spontaneous decisions about what your children may do at different ages, and these may not echo your overall parenting philosophy. Research should cover logistics but, as a parent, you will also want to talk with other parents of your culture about curfews, drugs, homework policies, etc.

        Finally, remember that you are leaving people as well as physical presences that have been comforting to your family for a long time. When saying good-bye to grandparents, friends, pets and a house, you may choose to keep some things familiar, such as furniture, even though moving your household belongings may not be the sensible choice. Similarly, you may decide not to sell your home, just yet, until your children are comfortable with their new home. All decisions should reflect the emotional needs of each individual family member as well as the practical circumstances.

        Expect the Unexpected

        Remember that transitions have cycles. Arrival in a new home will often be accompanied by a burst of enthusiasm. But don't be surprised when six months later your child, and you, hit an all time low. Transitions take time, so don't expect miracles. And everyone experiences change differently, children included.

        Often, the child you least expect has the most difficulty. You may anticipate that your introvert will take a longer time to adjust where, in reality, your extrovert may find the change more daunting. Introverts may not jump into a crowd on Day 1, but the introverted personality feels intrinsically more comfortable being alone. The extrovert only feels comfortable in the presence of others, so the time until s/he is safely ensconced in a group of friends may be more painful for him than for his introverted sister. During this time it is crucial to keep your own feelings in check and not let your own discomfort make that of your child worse. Even if you wish that your introverted daughter would extend herself to join the other children, your child is not a "mini-you". Recognize that her way may be different from yours; knowing that she is not meeting your expectations will only increase her burden.

        Communicate: With Your Child

        When embarking on a relocation, communication is the most important tool you can bring along with you. It is crucial to talk with your child, your spouse, and your child's teacher. Make sure your child knows that s/he will be attending a new school where the customs will be different and the curriculum may be as well. It is important that s/he understands that while you will make every effort to help him to catch up if he is behind, or to provide challenge if she is ahead, there is nothing wrong with him or her if the academic program does not match up with that of his or her former school. She has simply learned different content or the program may be taught in a different sequence. Explain that even if you did not interfere by talking with his teacher back home, you will speak with the new teacher to make sure that basic information is shared.

        Communicate: With the Teacher

        Except in an international school, most teachers do not understand expatriates or children who have moved from different countries. They may think that a child who doesn't know the language doesn't understand the material, and may not understand the logistical or emotional aspects of settling in. If parents are apart for a period of time, or you are living in temporary housing, it is important that the teacher knows this. In any event it is helpful to explain transition that your child has experienced, leaving home, friends, grandparents, pets, etc. You may have to clarify to the teacher that your child may be ahead in some areas and behind in others. Make sure not to imply a value judgment, but raise this in an effort to solve a problem. And, perhaps most importantly, let the teacher know that you would like him or her to share any unusual behaviors she observes with you.

        Strategies - Family Support

        As a parent there are things you can do to make the transition easier for your child. Don't feel guilty about moving, as s/he will undoubtedly pick up on that sentiment. Focus on the positive - the genuine positives (not simply promising to buy a dog), while acknowledging the short term difficulties that they will undoubtedly encounter. Make sure they know that you also are having adjustment difficulties, but that you are confident that the move will be worthwhile in the end. Be sure to encourage them to talk to you about these feelings, and allow family time for these conversations.

        There are ways that you can assure your children that they are the center of your lives, even when they don't feel central to anyone else's. Plan to be more available for a while, even if that means that you have to curtail your social life during the transitional period.

        A rushed schedule is stressful for children, particularly when they are already stressed. So if you can, keep things simple for a while, allowing your kids downtime. Reading books to your child about other children in similar situations will make him realize he is not alone in his feelings, and also will encourage him to talk about them. Depending on her age, you may be able to help your child find friends in school through other parents and by encouraging participation in extracurricular activities. If you are concerned about anything, be sure to talk to the teacher or counselor.

        Causes for Concern

        For the most part, children who have done well in their former lives will adjust well to a new school in a new country after a short time. However, there may be occasions where the move doesn't go well and where professional intervention is warranted.

        Some signs to take seriously, after the initial adjustment period, are significant weight loss or gain, or a major change in student performance. Anything uncharacteristic that goes on for a long period of time may be developmental, but is certainly something you will want to check out. Any disturbing feedback from the teacher or school should be discussed, first with the child, and then with the person who has provided the feedback. Even if no intervention is required at this point, a parent should certainly be on the watch for any further indications. Health concerns such as frequent illness, or fatigue, or major mood changes for sustained period would be another indicator that all is not well. Finally, if a child does not want to attend school, or to participate in other activities, you may want to begin by consulting the teacher, or school counselor, but it may be that a mental health professional is in order. Certainly, if your child experiences a number of these issues together, you would be wise to seek professional help.

        Children change during the various developmental stages and these changes may coincide with the significant adjustments that are an inevitable part of the losses and stresses that are inherent in relocation. Nevertheless, it is better to provide your child with support during these times than to ignore a potentially serious issue during a difficult period.

        Saying Good-Bye

        It is well known that saying good-bye well sends your child off to a good start in her new home. Here are some ideas that you may want to implement to make sure that you have encouraged your child to say good-bye in a way that allows him to hit the new ground running:

        1. Revisit all his favorite places
        2. Take photographs
        3. Make a collage
        4. Keep a journal
        5. Have a party
        6. Reminisce with family
        7. Tell people that you appreciate their friendship
        8. Make plans for a return trip or reunion
        9. Plan something to look forward to after moving

        Conclusion

        You are the parent and you have made the choice to move abroad. While it may be difficult to be clearheaded during this daunting process, the greatest help you can provide for your child is to keep focused on the end result. An expatriate experience is an experience of a lifetime, which provides your child with unparalleled knowledge, an open mind, and a can-do attitude. While there may be a few difficult discussions, and undoubtedly some tears, your own conviction that you are giving your child a gift will help you use constructive strategies such as those suggested above, and get through the transition to the thrilling experience on the other side.

  • Repatriation
    • Abrupt Repatriation: Minimizing Schooling Challenges

        Minimizing Schooling Challenges When Repatriation is Abrupt

        See the article in The Forum for Expatriate Management

        Monday, October 19, 2009

        Scenario:

        You moved a family with three children to London at the start of the academic year. As a result of the recession, you are moving the assignee home next week. The family of 5 was transferred on an expat package. You are not prepared to continue paying the expat allowance until the school year is completed. The parents are distressed because of their children. The spouse, who was reluctant to move at the outset because she feared her children’s transitions, is at a loss.

        Repatriation and Children: The Social Experience

        It is commonly known that repatriation is difficult. And, while not often recognized, repatriation for children may be as hard, if not harder than it is for adults. Just as for their parents, children have changed as a result of their time abroad, and so have their friends back home, so fitting in with the old group isn’t easy, and, in fact, may not be possible. Expectations of the return home are typically high. For many children, the entire assignment has been spent waiting for this date. Invariably, hopes are shattered, and the former community doesn’t meet a child’s expectations.

        My own daughter wrote the following poem on the plane home anticipating her return:

        As thoughts wander in and out of my head

        I decide that the best thing to pass the time would be to sleep

        Though these aren’t exactly first class seats

        they’re good enough to view the clouds and the miniatures below me

        Only two hours left here

        In suspense

        But at the same time knowing how this story would end

        Or begin

        Excitement circulates throughout my body

        knowing that within time

        I will be with my heart

        Though I haven’t been for what seems like forever

        questions

        so many

        but only for the lapse of time

        But for myself too to answer

        Have they changed?

        Better yet,

        have I?

        Too much thinking

        Taking my own advice

        I decide to let

        whatever happens happen

        Nothing now could ruin my mood

        as we descend

        down, to the place I once knew

        and hope to again

        know as home

        This piece too descends to its conclusion. (Sarah Perelstein)

        Imagine her disappointment when she found that she had nothing in common with her former friends, her former world felt provincial, and it was “not cool to be smart” in her old school. My daughter’s experiences, unfortunately, were quite common among children who repatriate to their former home.

        Repatriation and Children: The Academic Experience

        Among children who repatriate, whether or not they return to their previous town or city, curriculum rarely matches, courses may be taught in a different sequence, and students may find that they lack prerequisites for classes they are about to take. Other children find that they have already read the books on their reading list, or may be ahead in foreign language. Teachers at home may be threatened by their advanced levels of knowledge or simply may not know how to teach a child who is out of step with his or her classmates. For high school students, meeting exit requirements for graduation may not be possible, or may require significant negotiation or manipulation.

        The Current Climate:

        The present economic climate has caused companies to look carefully at every expenditure, and expatriate packages are easy targets. Families are being moved home earlier than had been planned, or transferred to local status.

        “In recent months, companies have begun recalling expats from multiyear assignments up to 12 months early….The CEO of a Pacific Northwest manufacturer who requested his publicly traded company’s name not be used is pulling his European division manager home after only eight months of a two-year assignment because the business can’t continue to foot the $500,000 annual bill for his salary and living expenses.*

        *Workforce.com, March 5, 2009

        These corporate decisions have a huge impact on families with children who have expected to complete an academic year in one location, or had not applied to desired private schools within the necessary timetable. In addition to the typical challenges that repatriating children face, children moved home abruptly may have even a more difficult time getting into private or specialized public schools that do not offer mid-year admissions. They may not have the ability to participate on sports teams or in plays or musical groups because these roles already have been filled. They may lack knowledge or prerequisites to thrive in classes in a different country where a different curriculum is studied. Even able children who may succeed without a foundation in a given subject may not be allowed to enter a class mid-year if placement testing is required.

        While changing curriculum is a challenge for any repatriating child, adequate time gives a family the opportunity to tutor and otherwise prepare children for their new academic program, as well as to seek out alternative school options where the discrepancies may not be as great. And time is a luxury that sudden repatriations do not permit.

        From an emotional standpoint, there are complications involved when repatriation is unexpected as well. Children may experience shame that the story they told friends when they moved abroad is no longer true. And, if not prepared carefully, they may feel responsible in some way for the departure.

        Got to Go, What to Know:

        If you must move a family on short notice mid-year, providing them with an education departure toolkit goes a long way towards relieving anxiety for them, and retaining their loyalty to you. A toolkit should prepare parents and children with what to expect, and give them an approach for entering their new school environment.

        Tips for Emotional Departure Success:

        1. Say goodbye well;
        2. Take lots of pictures;
        3. Revisit favorite places;
        4. Have a party.

        Tips for Academic Departure Success:

        1. Identify key supporters at school and obtain contact details in case family needs anything after leaving:
        2. Take hard copies of transcripts and know how to obtain soft copies;
        3. Ask school to write up basis for grading if appropriate;
        4. Get teacher recommendations while still familiar to teachers;
        5. Talk to teachers about types of school where child would thrive in new home;
        6. Bring description of curriculum by subject;
        7. Gather awards, certificates, or physical evidence of qualifications achieved;
        8. Bring medical certificates in hand luggage.

        Tips for Academic Success on Arrival:

        1. Have any documents translated;
        2. Find out health requirements for new school (more than one day before starting) and plan for medical exam in new home;
        3. Understand age/grade relationships as well as schoolwork/grade relationships;
        4. Discuss relative merits of age vs. schoolwork for grade placement with head of school;
        5. Understand curriculum;
        6. Learn application process and deadlines;
        7. Advocate for child about entering sports and other extracurricular programs mid-year.

        Most of all, parents must understand and take the time to explain to their children that they have done nothing to cause the premature move. Children have to be able to save face in front of their friends. Families might develop a script, explaining that economic circumstances have affected everyone worldwide, and for different people, the consequences have played out in different ways. In some cases, parents have lost jobs, others have moved to new houses, and their family has moved home early.

        If a company recognizes the impact of its decisions and policies on families, and provides minimal support during this abrupt transition period, the impact on employee morale and productivity will have a significant impact for a long time to come.

        Liz Perelstein is the President and Founder of School Choice International. School Choice International delivers peace of mind to global corporations and the families they move with a team of 90 experienced consultants on the ground in 50 locations worldwide, including 9 special educators assisting families relocating or repatriating internationally or domestically choose the right schools for their children. School Choice International is recognized as the industry expert, bringing new initiatives to the educational arena.

    • Abrupt Repatriation: Tips to Pass on to Parents

        See article in the International HR Forum

        Author:

        Liz Perelstein – School Choice International

        Although the merits of sending families home before scheduled repatriation dates are a topic of continuous debate, we know that some companies are resorting to this course of action. Where children are involved, the situation is understandably more sensitive, and companies are struggling to come up with cost-effective, yet fair and reasonable solutions.

        If you find you have to make or implement difficult decisions when it comes to children and their education, preparing yourselves, and helping parents prepare, is the most effective way to handle the delicate task at hand. Three things that parents should keep in mind are:

        1. The resilience of children
        2. Opportunities that come from change
        3. Thoughtful communication

        First, anxious parents need reassurance that children are extremely resilient and don’t, as a matter of course, suffer long-term as a result of transition, although the anticipation of change and the early stages in a new school are challenging for everyone. In typical circumstances, the children who find change most difficult are those whose parents do. So it is important that parents make every attempt to recognize and convey the opportunities the family has had and will have, and to address any problems as a family. Any concerns that children cannot comprehend should be saved until after bedtime. Parents should share as much about the circumstances as children want to know and are able to absorb, using their questions as a guide. It is essential that they are told that neither they nor their parents have done anything wrong, and that the current economic circumstances are something that the world is confronting together. Parents can explain that many of their friends also have been making life changes as a result of the recession. Some have moved homes, and others have switched schools. Different families will make different kinds of choices, but sacrifices are now common among friends and family members.

        These are some additional tips that can be shared with parents to provide them with peace of mind:

        1. Be available to speak with children and to answer any question they may have.
        2. Make thoughtful choices about the new school, reflecting on academic and social characteristics of children and how they have fared in their current school, in addition to family values and logistical circumstances. Gather lots of information and ask many questions about matters important to children, rather than focusing on factors more important to adults.
        3. Before starting the new school, engage the head and/or teacher in a conversation about the child so that good class placement decisions are made and the new teacher understands the child, his/her needs as well as current transitional circumstances.
        4. Address curriculum differences through tutoring or outside enrichment, but first clarify that there are likely to be discrepancies between performance in their new and former schools; parents should explain that each school teaches different material so that the child is not at fault if s/he struggles at the outset.

        Communication, both with the school and with the child, is the key to a successful transition. When families are calm and thoughtful, a change of schools can give children an opportunity to learn essential life skills such as making new friends and dealing with uncertainty, which is an invaluable part of any education.

    • Choosing Schools When Repatriating

        Choosing Schools When Repatriating

        by Elizabeth Perelstein, School Choice International

        This is the time of year when families often think about repatriation, and for those with school aged children the prospect of another separation from friends, in and of itself, is daunting. Making sure that they begin next year in an environment which minimizes curriculum differences, where teachers understand the process of re-entry, that builds on the positive changes that children have undergone when abroad and where they are able to engage with peers both socially and intellectually requires that the prospect is taken seriously.

        Over the past several years there has been considerable research, literature, and subsequently, corporate policy revision in recognition of the fact that repatriation brings major challenges. Employees may return to less interesting jobs and families may struggle to make ends meet after having been on an expatriate budget. Suddenly having to purchase a home, cars, and having to pay for all living expenses again simultaneously can be difficult. Friendships change as both parties have moved on during the intervening years and former friends are not interested in hearing about the expat life.

        Despite greater awareness of adult repatriation, there has been limited recognition of the difficulties children experience when repatriating. The conventional wisdom maintains that children can be returned to their former school and will be happy and successful. However, children who have lived overseas have changed along with their parents. They have studied different curricula and may have been learning in a different language. In some subjects they may be ahead and in others, they may be behind. Advancing them or having them repeat a grade can lessen some academic problems but may make others worse.

        Although parents typically focus on the academic adjustments, a child returning from abroad also is likely to experience social ones. Children who have traveled extensively develop sensitivity to people of other cultures, respect for different customs and view the world as their community. They find themselves thinking about global problems much as their peers may focus on sports, TV or video games. They are more mature and more serious than their contemporaries at home, and may be viewed as odd or strange. For repatriating children, home can be a foreign place rather than a welcoming one.

        Tips for Finding the Right School When Repatriating

        • The first step in identifying a suitable school for a repatriating child is to recognize that she has changed, and the ways in which she is different. Acknowledge new interests, identify characteristics of current friends, and discuss what is important to her at this point in her life, as well as where she sees herself in the future.
        • Visit his former school, and look at it in light of the qualities identified in #1. Does this feel like a place where he can be happy, successful, and himself? Although small schools can be more nurturing, large schools offer opportunities to engage in a broader range of activities, and therefore are more likely to satisfy newfound interests. In addition, in a larger environment he undoubtedly will have access to a greater number of children from which to select new friends, rather than being relegated to the "old crowd."
        • Identify some characteristics of her expatriate school that worked well - was it more structured, quieter than the school at home? How can you replicate those features that encouraged her to be her best?
        • Visit schools in addition to your child's former school, both public and private. If possible, try to include international schools on your list. Even if your child was in a local public or state school when you moved abroad, both you and he may be more comfortable, at this juncture, in a more heterogeneous environment.
        • If your child is old enough, be sure to involve him or her in this decision.

        The most important thing about a school search on repatriation is to recognize the need for one. Some children will thrive in their former school, while for others, the return home can be traumatic. As long as parents examine the question, review alternatives and talk with their children, a positive solution always can be found.

    • Repatriation

        Repatriation can’t be hard – We’re going home!

        1. Children are resilient
        2. We’re returning to friends
        3. We understand the curriculum
        4. The old school worked just fine before
        Reality
        1. Your children have changed
        2. Former friends have changed
        3. Teachers may not understand needs of children who have lived abroad
        4. Curriculum differences resulting in gaps or overlaps
        5. Public school exit requirements
        6. Sports may have been different

        We have worked with children excited to return home to their friends who were snubbed, who were told in direct or indirect ways that their stories and pictures were not of interest, as well as those who were embraced but felt they no longer had anything in common with their previous friends. In most developed countries, graduates come out with a similar body of knowledge, but the sequences in which subjects are taught are very different.  Some may find they repeat a science or miss one altogether.

        For kids who repatriate in high school, especially junior and senior years, certain US states or school districts require high school exams, a certain number of years of foreign language or a specific state’s history. Children who have played rugby may not translate well to American football and kids coming mid-year have to accept that key places already have been given out – both in sports, in music, drama productions.

        Challenges for Repatriating Families
        1. Parental guilt
        2. Timing of move
        3. Special needs
        4. Waitlists for private schools
        5. Variations in curriculum
        6. Different extracurricular activities
        7. Driving?

        Parents moved kids; they settled in and then are moving them again.  Families worry about mid-year and even if for beginning of the year it is difficult to get accepted in some areas. Children may be unable to participate in sports, shows.  Working out the special education support and having to begin all over.   May be ahead or behind.  May have limited experience in areas – i.e. driving, where there are social implications

        Recognize
        1. School placement when repatriating is as important as finding the right school overseas
        2. The importance of goodness of fit
        3. The need to manage your child’s expectations
        4. When school choices are unavailable, knowledge is power
        5. Your child may need an advocate

        This isn’t simply slotting back in – it is potentially academically and emotionally traumatic.  Treat it that way.  A good fit between a child and a school is more important than name – he/she should have the opportunity to thrive at this critical juncture.  Are there extracurriculars available to enable him/her to make new friends?  Is school large enough to offer enough variety to meet newly developed interests?  Is academic program flexible enough to allow him/her to advance or receive extra help?

        As long as you know you can make arrangements – even on the outside – tutoring, extra challenge or external sports/music.  But lack of knowledge may mean your child goes out for soccer too late in the summer to make the team.  Make it your business to know.

        It may be too hard for your child, even one who has been previously independent, to navigate and stand up for his/herself.  Talk to the guidance counselor – make sure he/she isn’t precluded from anything or any options are closed because of absence of prerequisites. Find out the process for obtaining special education services or how to get interim services if new testing needs to be done.

        Moving Forward

             1. Start with a needs assessment of your child and family:

        What grade is your child in and what grade was s/he when s/he left?

        Who is your child today and what are your family’s current needs?

        What kind of student is your child academically?

        In what educational circumstances has s/he thrived? Struggled?

        Does s/he make friends easily?

        Does your child have interests that can be continued at home

             2. When possible, match the child to the school

             3. When school choice is limited, become an advocate

        Don’t leave anything to chance.  Ask yourself these questions and others that you design in advance.  Be sure you have him/her covered in an organized way.  Don’t assume all will simply fall into place.  Be deliberate.

        When you CAN Choose, Consider:
        1. Has your child been transformed by the experience abroad?
        2. Will s/he find it difficult to resume former friendships?
        3. Will s/he be off cycle in terms of curriculum – either ahead or behind?
        4. The value of a new peer group to allow your child to reinvent him or herself relative to the child who left the community several years ago
        5. Repatriation to an urban community, rather than a rural one, might be more cosmopolitan for a worldly student
        6. A small school with interested faculty and students and the ability to individualize a program might be best at handling a repatriating child’s needs
        7. A large school with a diverse population and a greater range of programs might offer more courses and extracurricular activities that motivate your child

        Things often are more complicated than meet the eye.  You may assume a small school is better when a larger one actually is – with greater appreciation for what each one does or does not offer.  Learn enough about the curriculum to compare specific expectations subject by subject.  Don’t make any assumptions about old friends, and prepare your children to understand that they may need a new peer group.

        When a New School is an Option:

        Consider other public and private schools, whether or not you think you will end up with your former school.  A basis for comparison tests values and helps you identify what is important to you.

        Some things to look for:

        1. Are teachers and administrators equipped to handle international students who may have had a different educational background?
        2. Is school proactive in assigning a buddy or helpmate?
        3. Do school administrators and students value diversity, and how is that demonstrated?
        4. Does the school offer ESL for students not fluent in English?
        5. Is the school flexible and willing to waive or change requirements if a student has not had prerequisites but seems capable of handling work?

        Just like when looking for housing you need to look at what you don’t want in order to figure out what you do. Understand that just viewing what different schools (public, private, religious, non-sectarian, big, small) offer helps you know what you are looking for either in a new school or to make the existing school work for your child.  You can ask for a buddy, you can ask for flexibility in courses whether they be community college courses or remedial ones.  Only once you see a program or system will you know what kind of environment you really want for your child, today.

        When a New School is not available:

        Parents need to become advocates for their child 

        For a primary school child -

        1. Before starting school, request a meeting with the principal
        2. Explain that your child has been educated in a different curriculum and may be ahead in some academic areas and behind in others and may have played different sports as well
        3. Discuss your child, his/her experiences abroad, and ask the principal’s advice about the best teacher and classmates for your child
        4. See what arrangements can be made to compensate for curriculum differences, such as additional tutoring, distance learning, enrichment, or even acceleration
        5. Ask whether buddy systems are available to facilitate social interaction

        Don’t assume administrators, teachers or friends understand your child’s new needs.  Assume they don’t. 

        For an older child –

        1. Before starting school, arrange a meeting with guidance counselor
        2. Discuss your child, his/her experiences abroad and learn how curriculum overseas lines up with past, present and future courses
        3. Explain child’s potential (without appearing arrogant) and request alternative way to gauge appropriate placement if child lacks prerequisites required for advanced level courses*
        4. Find out how to “place out” of or take substitute classes for exit requirements so that a child attending public school is able to graduate despite different academic preparation
        5. If counselor and teacher do not help, it is possible to speak to school superintendent or Board of Education

        *it may be difficult to enter advanced courses if entire sequence is not taken; this can affect college options, as well as peer group

        Outside tutoring and distance learning are options to fill gaps either in knowledge or requirements.

        Managing Expectations: What Children Need to Know
        • The school that once was a good match may no longer be as they have changed
        • They may not find common ground with former friends but will make new friends
        • If you move mid-year, they may not get an active place on a sports team or a part in the play but they will have other opportunities
        • No one cares about their international experiences or wants to see their pictures
        • You may be more involved than you were previously until the adjustment is complete
        • If they are ahead in certain areas (like foreign languages) their teachers may be threatened rather than impressed
        • If they are behind in certain subjects, it is not their fault and you will provide them with extra tutoring or whatever help they need to catch up

        It is not enough for you to know it, make sure they do too.  They will feel inadequate if not able to keep up or trapped if above grade level unless you communicate to them that they have had a different background and also that you will work alongside them to make things work for them until they work out.

        Also assure them that a transition period is natural and will pass if they are patient.

        It’s all in how you say it:

        Scenario:

        A student returning to her home country had performed very well overseas and needed a more rigorous curriculum when repatriating. The parents visited the school and said to the principal “my child is ahead and needs to be challenged.” This attitude fostered resentment and set up conflict even before the child began classes. The teachers couldn’t wait for her to fail and she declined rather than flourished.

        A better way to say it:

        “My child has lived overseas and is ahead in some areas but behind in others as a result of having studied a different course sequence.”

        By acknowledging the value of the teachers and the education back home and attributing the need for additional challenge to a different curriculum rather than an inadequate program, the parents could have saved the relationship.

    • Repatriating with Children

        Repatriating with Children Choosing Schools When Returning Home

        by Liz Perelstein, School Choice International

        Published in Deloitte & Touche, Volume 2 - 2003

        When the Roberts family moved to England for an overseas assignment, the last thing they worried about was finding the right school when returning home. After all, this was the one part of the relocation they knew about. They had worked very hard to choose a school for their children in their home community, and moving was devastating for everyone involved. In the school they were leaving, the children were known, accepted, and successful. The parents were heavily involved with the school community and were major contributors of both time and money. The children were leaving friends who felt like family.

        While moving to a new school overseas would be daunting, the family expected that returning to the children's original school would be safe. The parents knew of the quality of teachers, the high academic standards, and the nurturing atmosphere in which their children were known to and cared for by adults. The entire family kept in close contact with friends back home for the duration of their overseas assignment. Whenever they returned for home leave, the children visited their school and friends. They had frequent guests in England; many friends from home took advantage of the family's overseas assignment to travel to London. Inexpensive telephone rates and email made contact even easier.

        The years passed quickly, and soon the family was returning home. They had rented their home while abroad, and were now preparing to return to it. They had made sure that places for their children were still available in their former school. Although terribly sad to leave their new life in London, it was with great anticipation that the children returned to their old school. They longed to embrace their friends. They had so many stories to tell and knowledge to share. They had travelled and learned new languages. They had seen the Rosetta stone in the British Museum, had walked on Hadrian's Wall, and wanted to tell everyone of their experiences.

        It did not take long for the children to learn that re-entry would not be easy. Nothing was the same as it had been before. Their friends were disinterested in or envious of the experiences they shared. After initially welcoming the returning children, their old friends began to feel they had become snobs. They were shunned rather than embraced for talking about their overseas experiences. Academically, the children also were out of step. They were ahead in certain areas of the curriculum, but behind in others. They were advanced in foreign language, which had been considered far more important in English schools than those in the US. Instead of valuing the contributions the children could make to their classes, foreign language teachers felt threatened by their knowledge. Teachers and administrators did not know how to respond to the children's backgrounds. Instead of fitting in easily, the repatriating children had become extra work for everyone who came into contact with them. It was painful for the children, the parents, and the school.

        Although the family and the company had planned carefully for almost every aspect of the move overseas, no one had anticipated the difficulty the children would have in returning to their former school. If choosing a school when repatriating is given the same attention as it is during a move overseas, many of these problems can be avoided.

        Choosing Schools When Repatriating

        Before returning to a familiar school after an overseas assignment, parents should go through the same kind of analysis that they undertake before moving internationally. During this process, parents should be sure to consider the following points:

        Understand your children.

        Who were they when you first moved overseas, and who have they become? What kinds of experiences have they had that have changed them, and in what ways have they grown?

        What has happened in the school back home when you were away?

        Have there been changes in the school environment or has everything stayed as it was? It is important to take note of the number of available children that repatriating children will have to choose from as peers. Be wary of too small a class if your child has grown. However, if your child left his/her home country in primary school and returns to a secondary school in which several primary schools have merged together, s/he will have plenty of new potential friends to choose from if s/he no longer has much in common with old friends.

        How common are international students in the school to which your children are returning?

        If a school has seldom encountered a child from abroad, your child is likely to have more trouble fitting in. If the environment is one where international children or those who have returned from expatriate assignments are abundant, there will be a larger pool of peers with whom your child can share experiences.

        Compare the curriculum in the overseas school to the one to which s/he will be returning.

        Where will the repatriating child encounter gaps? If your child has missed a substantial portion of a subject during the years abroad, assume you will need to arrange tutoring before you even return home. If a child is prepared to receive extra help, s/he will not consider it a sign of failure.

        Is your child ahead in some areas? Before enrolling your child in a school back home, discuss this with administrators and teachers. How receptive are they to providing additional challenges for your child? Their attitude is more important than an actual plan. If you are viewed as boasting when you describe the skills your child has acquired overseas, the school is unlikely to do anything to accommodate your child's new special needs. However, if teachers and administrators view your child's advanced skills as interesting, and important to address, they will be able to devise a way to challenge him or her. You still need to pay attention to any enrichment programmes put in place for your child. It is critical that they provide more interesting work, rather than more work. No child likes to feel s/he is punished for extra knowledge.

        Consider the question of whether or not to accelerate your repatriating child before you begin the school search process.

        It is tempting, when your child returns home and is advanced in many subjects, to want him/her to be with intellectual peers rather than age peers. This is a very personal decision, and should not be made under pressure or when considering the academic programme alone. In reflecting on this question, look at your child's maturity, physical size, academic level, and birthdate. Had you ever considered acceleration (or retention) before? If you always have felt that your child belonged in a different grade, the move may be an opportunity to make the switch. But if your child is emotionally immature, this would not be a good decision in the long run. We always advise clients to keep in mind that if a child is accelerated for academic reasons at a young age, s/he will be exposed to teenage drivers, smoking, drugs, alcohol, and sexual activity a year before s/he would have otherwise encountered these issues.

        Are there schools you can consider other than the one your child originally attended?

        Even if you decide in favour of your original school, it is important to do so as a result of an informed process rather than by assuming that your child can pick up where s/he left off. If you do your homework, you will understand that you are making tradeoffs, rather than sacrifices, if things do not go according to plan.

        It is always wise to treat each move, whether overseas or repatriation, as a unique experience. Do not make any assumptions. Evaluate each of your children individually and do your research anew each time. Consider consulting a professional educational advisor if you find the process daunting.

  • Age Specific Needs
    • Educating Expatriate Teenagers

        Educating Expatriate Teenagers: Is My Child Too Old to Move?

        By Elizabeth Perelstein

        Often parents will preface a conversation with me by a statement such as "my child is going into high school, it is too late to take on this assignment," or "my husband will have to commute, because I can't move my child at this point in his or her education." As a parent, the same concern crossed my own mind when I moved my two teens across the ocean and back.

        Sometimes the secondary school years are the threshold that parents are unwilling to cross. But for many families, the age cutoffs seem quite arbitrary, and can come as early as four years old or as late as 18.

        I address this concern with the same response I give to almost any other professional question. I answer with questions. There is no right time to move a child, or no specific time at which a child becomes too old to relocate. As with anything else, each age presents trade-offs. Clearly, younger children are more malleable, and therefore easier to move. Older children resist leaving friends more vocally and have more complicated issues in terms of curriculum that must be considered. But they retain far more, and therefore gain much more from the experience.

        Parents thinking about moving a child on an expatriate assignment always should think about the following factors, which are particularly important when a child is getting closer to the teenage years:

        Who is your child?

        What kind of student has your child been academically? In what educational circumstances has he/she thrived and where has he/she struggled?

        What kind of person is your child socially? Does he/she make friends easily or is it particularly difficult for him/her to do so? Does your child have any interests that can be continued in the new country that will make it easier to make new friends?

        Is your child doing well academically as well as socially at the present time? Ironically, it is easier to move a child at a good stage of development rather than when he or she may be running away from something.

        What are your values?

        What kind of person do you want your youngster to become? Do you feel strongly that you want your child to be open to new cultures; to taking on new challenges; to confronting risks? Can you effectively support him or her during this difficult period? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then the timing may be less important than welcoming the opportunity at any age.

        On the other hand, if you moved a great deal as a child have you promised yourself you would not do this to your own children? If, for any reason, you have a strong commitment to having your child complete high school in one place, you may not want to move your youngster. No potential benefits may outweigh the disadvantages according to your value system.

        What are the academic considerations and how do they fit your long-term plans?

        Simply looking at the educational program, there clearly are certain times that are better to move a child than others. This is not only true of the teenage years. A British child (or an American child who has been educated in the British school system and is repatriating) who has completed reception class is not at an ideal stage to embark on an American curriculum. Unless the child moves to a school where the reading program is individualized, children who already are reading will be taught phonics once again. A British child who is educated in the United States and returns at the age of 14 or older, during a program of study for the GCSE (General Certificates of Secondary Education) will be behind his or her peers in test preparation. An American child of the same age who moves abroad and then returns to the U.S. amidst a frenetic process of college preparatory courses and extracurricular activity, can be perceived as similarly disadvantaged.

        At any age, but particularly for a teenager, it is essential for a parent to consider the curriculum that the child is leaving and try to coordinate it as comfortably as possible with the curriculum he/she is going to. In addition, it is wise, although not always possible, to anticipate the educational program that he/she will attend upon repatriation or the next move.

        Despite their importance, curriculum considerations should never be the reason to forgo an overseas assignment. There always are other ways to construct a child's education, which will give him/her equivalent, or greater educational options at the end of the experience. International schools have been established all over the world to allow for continuity of program and coordination of schooling. As a byproduct, your teenager will find peers who are accustomed to moving on a regular basis and faculty who are trained to understand and make accommodations for varied curricular backgrounds.

        What parents often fail to take into account is that they can continue their children on an international school track if they do not fit back into their home curriculum upon repatriation. For example, if a British child repatriating to England is not prepared for GCSE examinations, a family always can choose an international baccalaureate program, or even an American school upon return home. Neither of these routes rule out the option of a British university. Admittedly, it requires a parent to abandon former dreams and aspirations of their child at prep school, but it does not, in any way, limit the youngster's ultimate educational or career opportunities. And the benefits of an overseas experience, new friends, perhaps a different language, and new culture and travel opportunities cannot be matched.

        The decision for a family to live abroad during a child's teenage years forces parents to reconsider their definition of education. Those who think of education simply as schooling are likely to have difficulty confronting their youngsters and encouraging them to embark on an overseas move. It certainly will require many adjustments, both of social and academic nature. These are difficult to help children with, unless parents are entirely committed to the opportunity they are affording their offspring.

        If, on the other hand, parents view their children's education as the totality of the experience, it is never the wrong age to expose them to new customs, to show them how to adapt to change and to seize an unanticipated opportunity. If this is the parents' definition, problems related to schooling, both on assignment and on repatriation, always can be solved. Resolution of these issues in creative ways is part of the journey, part of the learning. When we returned on home leave, from our first year of living in London, my daughter said to me "now I know, Mom, that there is nothing I can't do." If that isn't education, what can we teach our children? 

         

    • Relocating Generation Y

        Under Construction

    • Relocating With Teenagers: When is the Best Time to Move
  • Family Needs
    • When Divorce Enters the Situation

        Moving Overseas with Children:

        When Divorce enters the Equation

        By Liz Perelstein

        See the full article in ExpatExchange.com

        or a excerpt on the Finding Schools Blog

        Relocating with children always is stressful and invariably involves an adjustment. Considerable research indicates that employees who turn down assignments routinely cite family circumstances. (Statistics from VeloDirect: International Assignments: Cost, Benefits, Issues Explained; Brookfield Global Relocation Trends Survey 2009; Cartus Policy and Practices Survey 2007;). However, in cases where there are no extenuating circumstances, most children who relocate do well after an initial transition. In fact, more often than not, moving becomes an opportunity for growth rather than a burden once the original adjustment is made. For families where parents are separated or divorced, however, relocation can be traumatic for both child and parents. While the loss involved in moving always is profound, when it means losing not only extended family, but also a parent, the courts as well as the psychological community may come into play. In recognition of the strain it puts on a child a move can be halted through the legal system, rendering an international transfer – or even a domestic one - virtually impossible.

        Over the past few years I have been asked to provide expert testimony concerning education and relocation. These cases have been associated with two scenarios - a potential move in a family where parents had divorced or were divorcing, or, alternatively, where parents have separated while on assignment and the custodial parent wants to move home while the working parent remains abroad. As society has become more peripatetic, this issue is bound to arise increasingly. The five year legal battle of David Goldman to gain custody of his son Sean was highly publicized because it was identified as an important precedent in custody battles during the current era of mobility.

        (www.csmonitor.com/USA/2009/1222/Brazil-custody-case-David-Goldman-gets-custody-of-son-Sean) As the relocation of separated families has become more common, states within the United States have enacted legislation that addresses the issues inevitably raised. These laws vary considerably by state. Parental consent may be required in some states so when the non-custodial parent does not consent the issue may be decided by the legal system.

        (www.womansdivorce.com/relocation.html) Intrastate moves are allowed more frequently than interstate moves (www.divorcesource.com/info/relocation/introduction.shtml) which indicates that proximity - which facilitates ongoing contact - clearly is considered crucial. I have not found articles that deal specifically with legal considerations in international relocation for divided families. However, there have been a few studies (despite small sample sizes) that support the belief that ability to successfully maintain relationships with both parents is significant to a child's well being. (Journal of Family Psychology, 2003). Accordingly, legal requirements for international relocations most likely would be more stringent than those for domestic transfers because of the obvious fact that distance affects the ability to maintain relationships with both parents.

        The Legal Debate:

        When a case about a relocating employee in a divorce situation comes to the courts, the debate is about determining a parent's constitutional rights to travel freely versus what is in the best interests of the child. Some issues that may become factors in the decision include:

        1. Is visitation or dual custody possible for an older child who can fly independently in order to spend holidays with one parent and the school year with another? If not how will the relationship between parent and child be preserved?
        2. What is the impact of transition on a child? In the case of divorce the child already may have changed schools, perhaps recently. Should the child again be removed from friends as well as forced to change his academic program at a particularly vulnerable time?
        3. Which school is “better?” Often this is a code word for a more exclusive reputation, higher scores on standardized tests or a more impressive record of university admission.

        As education is my area of specialization, let me address this final point in particular. Perhaps the emphasis should be shifted from the school to the individual child, along with the recognition that statistics don't ever tell the whole story, but particularly are inconsequential for a relocating child in the case of parental divorce. The more significant question is at which school the child will have a better experience, and at this time in a child's life nurturance may be far more important than stressful academics.

        What HR Needs to Think About:

        If you are thinking about relocating an employee with a child where there has been a divorce, or when a divorce occurs during the assignment, you may want to consider the following factors before you choose to approach the employee:

        Legal

        1. Is the employee willing to share details about the settlement that may be pertinent to the resolution?
        2. What are the laws governing relocating children of divorced parents away from the home location?
        3. What is the likelihood that consent will be possible to obtain?
        4. Can you afford a substantial delay in the move (the five year Sean Goldman situation may have been extreme but delays probably are the norm more frequently than the exception) because of a legal battle?
        5. What if the courts ultimately decide that the parent may not move?

        Cost

        1. Might you be expected to pay legal costs in addition to those involved in relocation?
        2. Will a greater number of home visits be required than your policy allows for?
        3. Will the employee request support (full or partial) for a second, smaller, household?
        4. Might there be circumstances where you would be asked to cover psychological assistance for the child?

        Social/Emotional

        1. How likely is it that the relocation takes a great toll on a child's long term emotional well being?
        2. If the answer is likely, how does that fit into the corporate culture/personality?
        3. What kind of professional support do you need to offer the family to minimize the impact and to foster the success of the assignment?
        4. If the assignee is the non-custodial parent, will this affect his/her ability to perform effectively?

        What a Family Needs to Think About:

        1. How important is this move to the parent?
        2. Are there pros as well as cons for the child?
        3. Can parents keep conflict far away from the child and his education? What are the implications for the child should a legal battle ensue?
        4. How can the child maintain a relationship with both parents?
        5. What is the child's personality like, in particular, does the child adapt easily to change?
        6. For parents deciding to go ahead with the move, focus on goodness of fit rather than prestige or hearsay. Does the child need psychological assistance to manage the transition?

        Conclusion:

        Divorce typically is messy and this reality can't be changed. But the combination of an increasingly mobile society and a high divorce rate makes it likely that the incidence of transferring divorced parents will grow. A common goal among the employer, professionals advising the family, as well as both parents should be that minimizing the disturbance to the child is critical. Pre-assignment assessment should be employed in these cases, and may suggest that this may not be the best employee to move at a particular time. Nevertheless, procedures and communication channels need to be developed because there will be times that the assignment does move forward. Relocation of divorced parents is a problem that is here to stay and needs to be confronted in the relocation literature.

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