This week’s recommended reading has an education focus. School is a huge part of any child’s life – and no less so for Third Culture Kids. Moving around the world into a new school – a new school system, with different expectations and perhaps even a different language – is a big challenge to overcome! It’s really important for those of us supporting and caring for TCKs (and their parents) to think about how education plays out in the lives of international families. This is a loose collection of recent articles discussing different elements of education – transition, language, culture, and alternative ways of learning.
Bilingualism and Homework, part 2
Expats since birth
This fantastic post was written by Ute Limacher-Riebold, who always has great tips for international families. She discusses something that comes up in a lot of international families: what to do when your children attend school in a language you aren’t fluent in? What is most valuable about this post, however, is the range of really great practical advice for parents in this situation. In particular, how to learn the language of study and exams, for both parents and students.
“What for a native speaker is “common sense” might not be for someone who speaks this language only at school (or at work for that matter…). Here are some sites where you can find an overview of recurrent terms that are used in English exams…”
How to cope with sending your child to a school that isn’t diverse
Multicultural Kid Blogs
This one isn’t about expat kids necessarily, but about parenting a child who is a minority in their school – something that can happen whether at home or abroad. There is great practical advice for parents here, on how to support a child through an experience that has the potential to be stressful.
“When your kids are in school, one of the most important things you can do every day is to talk to them. Sometimes simply asking how their day went is not enough. When your child is attending a school that isn’t diverse, it’s important to make sure they are having a good experience.”
4 Tips for a Stellar Start for International Children Starting a New School
Multicultural Kid Blogs
And now, by their powers combin: a post by Ute, published on Multicultural Kids! This piece has solid advice on ways to help kids transition into a new school in a new location. Includes a lot of reference links to additional material, too.
“If we have been through this kind of change before, we tend to assume that they [children] will all be fine (in time). I strongly advise not to do that. . .what was easy before might be an issue now. During a transition, our children tend not to make us worry and would do anything to see us happy.”
A Parents Guide to Changing Schools
Mixed Up Mama
This is about changing schools generally, but I found there was a lot in here that is valuable for international moves, too. From acknowledging the emotional difficulty for parents watching a child struggle with adjustment, to logistics. I particularly appreciated this piece of advice: “Consult with your children but don’t let them decide.” I talk to parents about this a lot in regards to the decision to move. It is great to consult your kids, but don’t pretend they’re really making the decision – you will decide whether to move or not, even if that decision is impacted by your child’s opinions. Be the parent, make the decision, and acknowledge to your child that that is the situation.
“Some of the reasons we couldn’t always share with her as they were about things she may not have always understood- long term vision, bigger picture as a family etc. Children think in terms of the short term and their immediate situation. We did share with her slowly some of the reasons but left it open for her to see some of the advantages herself as well. We talked with her at every step of the process getting her ready but ultimately it was our decision as parents.”
Why teachers shouldn’t be afraid of other languages being spoken in the classroom
Clare Cunningham discusses her research on alternative lanugages in the classroom, from the perspective of English-language education in the UK. She brings up several interesting points (and links to her research) about reasons teachers may prefer a monolingual classroom. One teacher “spoke about what she called “the inappropriateness of language” – claiming that children only use other languages when they want to be rude or exclude others.” This has certainly been an argument in some schools I’ve known who maintain an “English-only” school environment. A related argument is that allowing other languages excludes children who cannot participate in that language. Clare also notes promising changes as schools and teachers are “striving to overcome their worries about multilingual spaces and making excellent use of online resources for curriculum based work in a range of languages – as well as providing tailored teaching materials for children that need them.”
Supporting Education From The Outside In
This fantastic article links the power of art and storytelling to fostering emotional wellness in cross-cultural children. This is something I wrote about in Misunderstood, and is something others have tackled as well. Author Michelle is Board President for Cultured Kid, an organisation working on curriculum that uses art and storytelling to support CCKs in their identity struggles while simultaneously developing greater cultural undestanding and empathy in their mono-cultural peers. I am really excited by this concept and hope to hear more about it in the future!
“For the past year Cultured Kids has been working alongside education professionals, consultants, and students in public health and child development to tackle this single complex question: Is it possible to create a curriculum for schools that could support academic achievement in conjunction with promoting individual social emotional wellness within this sea of cultural complexity? We believe there is.”
The Black Expat
Interesting perspective on alternative schooling. Worldschooling uses the world around us to direct amd encourage learning. Author Karen and her partner are both trained teachers, and have used their experience along with a worldschooling mindset to educate their son while travelling abroad.
What is worldschooling?
World School Family Summit
With my interest piqued, I went and found this recent article describing worldschooling a little more, including descriptions of different ways this works for different families. In this post, TCKs are considered worldschoolers even when they attend traditional schools (international or local) as they are still outside their ‘home’ culture and its educational system.
Expat education and separated parents
This is a short article, more of an overview, and is based in the UK system. That said, it raising several really important questions regarding co-parenting an education, especially when an international move is part of the equation. For example:
“When a child attends school in another country there can be many decisions requiring a parent’s consent which can be difficult to obtain when the parents are abroad and more so if communications between separated parents are difficult.“