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Assisting Your Child On a New Curriculum Abroad

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 28 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Abroad Child Children School Curriculum

Everyone wants the best for their child. If you go abroad on a career break, one of the main considerations will be which school will serve your children best. Deciding whether your child will cope better away from home in boarding school, thrive in a British school abroad or fare best in a local school with a new language, new curriculum and different style of learning is not to be taken lightly.

If you decide to send your child to a local school, adjusting to a new curriculum will be one of the main challenges. It's a good idea before you leave the UK to get a copy of the school's curriculum from your child's school, so you can show it to his or her new teachers. Asking for copies of your children's individual progress reports can also be of tremendous assistance in helping their new school adjust their curriculum to better match their needs.

Is the Choice of Curriculum Important?

Research has shown that for children under 14, the choice of curriculum may not be that important. In fact, the opportunity to learn a new language and new culture abroad may outweigh the disadvantages of having to adjust to a new curriculum. For older children, however, that may be a different story. In that case, a British school or one that offers an international baccalaureate programme may suit your long-term needs better.

If you do decide to send older kids to local schools, however, there are ways to ensure they don't miss out when they get back home. If you are living in Scandinavia - or Peru, or China - there may be little or no emphasis on British history, for example, which would put your child at a disadvantage come exam time back in the UK. Getting a tutor to teach your child what they need to know upon their return to the UK can be a good idea.

The Importance of Language Skills

Unless you are moving to Canada, the United States or another English-speaking country, helping your child learn a new language is vital to their success in a local school. Hiring a tutor for one-to-one language lessons may also be a good idea in the beginning, or indeed, for as long as needed. In some countries, special language coaching for new pupils is provided short-term. It's hard to understand a new curriculum if you don't understand the language!

Which Approach Can Help?

Remember, starting a new school, especially one abroad, can be a stressful time for any child. Leaving old friends behind and trying to make new ones while coping with a new language and different customs can be difficult at best, and at worst, quite traumatic. Dealing with a new curriculum and new educational demands only adds insult to injury.

Let your child understand that you understand what they're going through, and listen to their fears. You can help make the adjustment period run as smoothly as possible, simply by keeping an open mind and letting your child adapt at his or her own pace. Keep in mind that different courses and subjects shouldn't hinder your children's education, they should enhance it by enriching both their practical and theoretical knowledge. A different curriculum should be looked on as a positive experience, something your kids will benefit from in later life.

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