International Teaching With A Family

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Teaching abroad is an opportunity to expand your horizons and enhance your resume with the view to advancing up the career ladder. But, if you have a family, making sure you’ve got all the information you can find will help you find the best position for your whole family.

There are many international teachers who love the lifestyle and are of the opinion that their children are the better for getting an international education. Essentially your children will not only benefit from expanded horizons themselves, but they’ll be getting a private education too! Teaching overseas is not for the faint-hearted, but the risks of making a poor decision can be managed.

Here are some items to consider if you’re going to teach abroad with children:

Tuition as part of the salary package

International schools are fee-paying schools. This means that parents or their employers pay for children to attend the school, and it’s not cheap. In most salary packages you come across you’ll find that tuition for your children is included. The thing to check is whether it’s included for the number of children you have. Often you’ll have to pay tuition for you third and/or fourth child.

Learning difficulties and learning support

If your child has learning difficulties don’t try and hide it from the school because you’re worried that the situation will affect your employability. If it does, you probably don’t want to work there, and you surely don’t want your child going to school there! Learning support departments are becoming more common in the better schools, and as a consequence there’s a raised awareness of special education and supporting children with difficulties. To find out whether learning support is available at a school you’re thinking of applying to work at, check their website for a list of departments or a list of staff. If there is no mention of learning support provision, either ask the school directly or have a friend email the school, pretend to be a prospective parent and ask for you.

Languages offered

Most schools will offer a number of foreign languages for your child to learn. If your child has already been learning a language, you may want to find out if they will be able to continue at your new school. It’s an important consideration if you are moving to an IB school because all students are required to learn a language other than their mother tongue. In grades 11 and 12 (years 12 and 13) this is particularly relevant because your child will be expected to sit the Diploma exam which presumes a prior knowledge of the language. If you are moving to an IB school and your child has never studied a foreign language before, ask which languages are offered at the ‘ab initio’ level. This is the level that Diploma students can enter a language for the first time.

Extra-curricular activities offered

Smaller international schools may be a pleasant change from working in a national public system, but the downside is that there may be only limited opportunities for your children to take part in extra-curricular activities. Again, check schools’ websites to see what sports are offered. If there is no obvious link, you can always look at the pictures to see if there are any sports or music related ones. If your children are dedicated sports players you can inquire about regional sporting competitions and what sports take part in them. Other activities to find out about, depending on the interests of your children, are Model United Nations, Amnesty International, International Youth Awards (similar to the Duke of Edinburgh Award), orchestra, choir, drama productions, etc.

Leisure activities in the community

What activities do your children take part in when they have leisure time? What would they like to try? You can find out about leisure activities in the community you’ll be moving two by either asking the recruiter (at interview, after you’ve been offered a position), on schools’ websites (you can often find a page on ‘life’ in the same area as the employment or admissions pages) or by searching on the internet. When you’re searching on the internet use city AND activity, for example, Bangkok AND Flamenco dancing.

The key to making the right choices is having accurate and complete information at your fingertips. Following these simple tips will ensure that you have good quality information on which to base this important decision about the lives of your children.

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