Moving to China? 8 Tips on How to Choose a School
You’re about to become an expat – you’re relocating to Beijing, China! Besides starting to learn the language and set about packing for your big move, you’ve probably got some large decisions ahead of you – how to find the right school for your kids. There are many international schools in China, and you should research the best one for your family. What do you look for? How do you pick a school? It can be so confusing, especially from overseas.
Here are our top eight tips on how to pick an international school in China
Decide how your kids learn best
Pay attention to their interests and look at what the different international schools in China can offer. If your kids are heavy into sports, then look for schools with an emphasis on sports. The same goes for arts, science, academics, etc.
Language and culture learning
Learning the local language should be a given. Many of the international schools in China offer great Chinese and English language programmes. Ensure that the school you select includes this and does it well.
Make sure to find a school that emphasizes cultural immersion. Look for schools that offer field trips and other cultural knowledge, to be sure that your kids are both learning the language, and ABOUT the culture (which enhances language learning).
What is the effect of a new curriculum on your children’s studies? I am sure all parents think about different scenarios when relocating, such as if their children fall behind, and if the learning is relevant and at the right level. If you’re relocating to some of the larger cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong), there will be more schools that are renowned for providing well-acclaimed curriculum with which your children will thrive. These include the IGSCE (International General Secondary Certificate of Education) and International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma – but each school will have a unique curriculum to achieve these academic goals. The Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS Beijing) has an excellent reputation for these two curriculums (IGSCE & IB), as well as incorporating the core structure of bilingualism. Other international schools in Beijing with a strong curriculum include the Beijing City International School (BCIS) and the British School of Beijing (BSB).
Does the school enroll only international students, or does it have a diverse global population? This is important – although international schools in China are not able to take local Chinese students, many do offer multicultural environments where your children can be exposed to many different cultures and nationalities. Living abroad offers a great opportunity for this to occur and your children to benefit from it. Ensure the School does not limit its enrollments from just a few nationalities.
While this might seem to piggyback on the last two, true multicultural learning takes language, culture, and diversity into account and melds them together into one coherent worldview. It also incorporates environmentalism, kindness and compassion, intercultural communication, and social responsibility. A Beijing international school that offers true multicultural learning is a great find, and will change your family’s life.
Take a close look at the faculty – who are they? What are their teaching styles? Does the school have both western and Chinese faculty? Do they teach together, or separately? How will your students learn – and who from?
Does the school foster a sense of community? Moving overseas is stressful, as is starting a new school. If they find a home at school, as well as with your family, then your kids will feel safe to explore their new culture, as well as make new friends. A strong school community will go far in helping your children adjust, thrive, and succeed.