Educational challenges when moving with children

Families moving internationally experience additional stress and challenges when faced with finding education for their children. In fact, “family concerns” is the most cited reason for assignees not accepting a position. Globally, almost 50% of assignees have children accompanying them on their assignment. As companies continue to push into emerging markets, locations with fewer quality schools and longer waitlists require employers to identify solutions for and support families.

Relocating families face many educational challenges when moving with children – some unexpected, such as:

  • Curriculum gaps and overlaps – moving between different educational systems can result in gaps and repeating material
  • Graduation requirements – moving between different education systems can affect class credits and the graduation time table
  • Repatriation concerns – families have to think proactively about repatriation while managing school search
  • Key years for assessments – in some education systems, students are assessed at specific times and children who miss these have more difficulty transitioning to the new system
  • Off-cycle moves and waitlists – families moving after admissions cycles face challenges finding schools with availability
  • Competitive entry – in some locations, entry into the most sought-after schools can be difficult and overwhelming
  • Languages and learning styles – children may have been learning in a different instructional language from the new location; what kind of supports are in place for non-native speakers?
  • Special needs and gifted education – parents must consider their child’s unique needs when choosing a school

Case Study

Imagine your assignee has moved frequently in the last 14 years and experienced different school curricula in each new area. Due to the frequent moves and the age of the children, they were finding this school search more challenging.

The family had concerns including:

  • Oldest child was significantly younger than her peers in the same grade and the parents were considering repeating her current grade. While she was an excellent student and would perform well in the higher grade in terms of academics; socially she may benefit from being grouped with her same age peers.
  • The child was also approaching the high school years and depending on the duration of their post, they needed to take a longer term view.
  • The new school required French as a second language; the children were studying Mandarin with no French language experience.
  • Youngest child had been following the International Baccalaureate prior to the move and the family was not sure this was the best curriculum for her.
  • Through careful support and planning, families can learn about the educational landscape of the new location and target specific schools that fit the child’s needs and parent’s goals. A successful school placement means thriving children in the new environment and a happy assignee. Companies that show a personal interest in their employee’s well-being are more likely to ensure employees are happy, satisfied and productive.

Patricia Muesse is a guest blogger for msi and is a Global Field Supervisor for The School Choice Group comprised of School Choice International, which provides a broad array of education solutions to transferring employees, and School Search Solutions, which provides similar support to private individuals around the world. In addition to education consulting and school placement services, The School Choice Group provides a wide array of consultative services to organizations and individuals, including policy development, research, benchmarking, and entrepreneurial/business start-up advisory services.