You’ve said goodbye to your family and friends, and travelled across the globe with your spouse and children for that new job posting in Switzerland. It’s therefore time to visit your shortlisted schools and select the one that’s best suited to your child and family’s needs.
Will it be local or international? Public or private? Bilingual or monolingual? And how about ensuring your children have local friends to play with?
Keeping your child’s options open
If there is anything the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that life is unpredictable. I mean, was your recent move on time, or delayed like for many others? And let’s not forget the chances of you deciding or having to move on again in a few years’ time.
With this in mind, the wisest decision for expats in Switzerland is to opt for an international school. With students coming from all over the world, these schools place special emphasis on integrating newcomers and creating a sense of community. In addition, their curricula are often transferable, meaning that students can continue studying in another country easily.
The gift of bilingual education
The exposure to a wide variety of cultures and languages is one of the main attractions of an international school, as the constant interaction with multicultural classmates enriches the children’s learning and understanding of the world.
It creates the perfect environment for a truly bilingual education, which enables students to communicate in the same lingua franca while learning a second or third language from native-speaking teachers on a daily basis.
The modern world is far more accessible to those who show adaptability and initiative, both key qualities of bilingual learners. Why? Because being able to speak two or more languages greatly enhances:
- Cultural awareness
- Academic focus and performance
- Communication skills
- Job opportunities
Students who foster the abilities above are often one step ahead of their monolingual peers, so giving your child this opportunity should be high up on your list.
Integrating into the Swiss way of life and getting to know the locals isn’t easy at the best of times. A reason many families opt for the Swiss state school route as they think it’ll be easier for their children to make local friends.
However, in an international school the same can be true. International schools have extensive experience in helping children, and their families, through the relocation transition. Most work closely with their parent body to offer new students and parents a support partnership, as well as friendly advice and help from welcome committees.
Haut-Lac International Bilingual School is a great example of this. With 56% of its student population being Swiss and established long-term on the Swiss Riviera, and 75% living within 5km of Haut-Lac, your children are sure to meet friends from your neighbourhood at school.
There is more to choosing a school than it seems, especially in today’s increasingly globalized society. Focusing on the educational programme should be one of your main concerns, but don’t overlook other factors such as bilingualism, ease of integration in Switzerland or the possibility of a smooth transition to another country.