What makes international schools different?

A closer look

What makes international schools different?

Many expats families rely on international schools when moving abroad. An easier adaptation process and transferable curricula are two of the main deciding factors for choosing these schools. Here is a list of what sets international schools apart from other private and public alternatives.

Adaptation and transferability

Choosing a new school for your kids is often the cause of great uncertainty. It is hard to foresee what difficulties children will face and how long it will take them to feel at home. In the German education system there are different types of institutions depending on the student’s academic abilities and career prospects. Because of this, adaptation can be challenging for expat kids coming from countries with different educational approaches. 

Luckily, most international schools have a similar culture and ethos (e.g. a global mindset, promotion of diversity, a sense of community and English as the main language of instruction), and they do not separate students into different levels based on their academic performance. As a result of these, children can adapt to international schools more easily. Some of them also offer the IB (International Baccalaureate) programme, which has a transferable curriculum recognized by schools and universities all over the world. In Germany, the Bavarian International School  and the Berlin Brandenburg International School  are the only two that provide the full IB program for students aged 3 to 18.

A welcoming, international community

Families that arrive in a new country sometimes struggle to integrate or make the same, comfortable social groupings they enjoyed back home. However, international schools specialize in providing a sense of community, where newcomers from various different countries come together and share experiences. For example, many schools encourage expat families to join Parent-Teachers Associations (PTAs), where parents get involved in activities surrounding language support, culture, sports and volunteering. Through these clubs and events, parents can build a network of contacts and children can get international exposure.

Ticket to world-class universities

No school can guarantee your child will make it to a top university. Obviously, every child is different and has a unique set of talents and aspirations. However, international schools tend to provide children with the necessary foundation to become successful university students. Learners are offered guidance regarding their next steps and the requirements to achieve their goals. The International Baccalaureate is highly regarded by many universities, paving the way for admission into reputed institutions.

Extra-curricular activities

Most international schools provide a wide range of after-class activities, and it is common for students to engage in artistic or sporting activities as a part of their weekly routine. These schools often provide modern sports facilities, performance halls and innovation spaces for children to grow and push their boundaries in many different areas. Their aim is to offer a well-rounded, stimulating environment, encouraging students to develop their passions and adopt healthy habits.

Mother tongue programmes and teacher support

Children living abroad are lucky to be exposed to different cultures and environments. However, as enriching as this may be, it can bring some serious challenges. Teachers from many diverse backgrounds, as is the norm in international schools, can help children understand cultural differences and how to make the most of them. In addition, thanks to their international staffing, they often offer mother tongue support programs. The aim of these is to provide children with the opportunity to practice their native language or that of their parents, helping them develop confidence and understand their cultural identity.

Further reading

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