Taking your children on your international school journey has many BENEFITS for all members of the family!

Blog 4

For those of you who are already experienced international school educators, you probably have mental lists of your observations.  Maybe your observations focus on your own children, and maybe they focus on the children of your colleagues and friends inside your schools.

For those readers who might be wondering, might be concerned, might be titillated, might be afraid or might be dreaming of such a family venture … keep reading.  I think all of you will enjoy the results of some research.

A number of years ago, I was in a premier position to receive numerous narratives from educators about the advantages of raising children inside the international school where the parent/s work.  Conducting presentations at various international school conferences, such as ECIS, TRI-Association, Earcos, MAIS and AAIE, I had captive audiences, who were more than happy to share their observations, opinions and perspectives. I also presented to my own staff members in schools in China, Spain, Guatemala and the USA, thus, gleaning additional data.

Mind you, I did not only survey educators who had THEIR OWN kids in the school.  Many of the respondents did not have their own children in the school; rather, they were responding to their experiences working with the children of their colleagues, who are the parents/colleagues of their own students.   If this sounds circuitous – it is!! This is one of the characteristics of this paradigm – it is complicated!!  But, nevertheless, there are huge benefits to all members of the family, when children are enrolled in the school in which their parents are employed.

I was able to divide the narrative responses into 6 themes:

(a) practical benefits,

(b) social integration,

(c) facility of communication and contact,

(d) awareness, familiarity, and understanding of school and students,

(e) strong family bonds and interrelatedness, and

(f) educators as parent role models.

Well, now that you have the 6-point infrastructure, I would love to hear your observations that correspond to these categories.  Let loose and tell your personal or professional stories.  Perhaps you have an observation that does not fit ‘neatly’ into one of the 6 above.  I would love to hear about it.

Stay tuned to hear more in the next blog post.  I hope I can use some of your narratives to embellish the benefits of this extraordinary family odyssey.

Ciao!   Ettie

About Ettie Zilber

Ettie Zilber is a consultant to International School Communities and Families in Transition and a veteran international school educator and school leader. She has served in independent international schools in Israel, Singapore, Spain, Guatemala, China, and most recently in the USA. Her expertise extends to such topics as international school models, second/foreign language acquisition, communicating between diverse groups, the impact of international mobility and relocation on children, parents and staff, the special family experience of the educators' children, the orientation of newcomers, multi-cultural communities, catalysts for teaching internationally, and marketing of international schools. She is the author of Third Culture Kids: The Children of International School Educators. She can be contacted at ettie.zilber@gmail.com.
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2 Responses to Taking your children on your international school journey has many BENEFITS for all members of the family!

  1. Angela Romero says:

    Ettie,
    My family is part of an international school in Guayaquil, Ecuador (4 years now). This is our first overseas teaching spot, but in July we are moving to Nanjing, China, to continue our adventure! I am the school librarian and my husband teaches high school social studies, as well as being the Assistant Elementary Principal and varsity basketball coach. Our girls are in 3rd and 6th grades. End of backstory…on to my observations on your themes:

    (a) practical benefits,
    *We could never afford to have the girls go to a private school of this caliber in the States, let alone one with such a multicultural environment. The girls are learning Spanish and are exposed to Mandarin, Korean, Portuguese, French, Norwegian, and German through interactions with classmates. We are on the same schedule, and the girls consider the school their other home.

    (b) social integration,
    *Since our free time is spent mainly with teachers and Consulate families, our girls have learned how to properly interact with adults, both in a school and social setting. I think they are more comfortable speaking with new students because they both remember being new and because there are so many new students throughout the year. Knowing that we can keep in contact with friends in other countries via Skype, email, and WhatsApp has made it easier when friends (or we as a family) have to move.

    (c) facility of communication and contact,
    Very easy to get messages to and from our girls while at school, or to see them when they go to the nurse or get hurt. Talking with their teachers is easy…stop in the hall or after school!

    (d) awareness, familiarity, and understanding of school and students,
    *Sometimes this can be bad. The girls are more aware of issues with parents and/or students, simply because they are around teachers more often and can overhear things. On the other hand, especially in small schools, we know ALL of the students.

    (e) strong family bonds and interrelatedness, and
    *I don’t know if I could be an overseas teacher if I was single. My family IS my support group…they are there when I need to phone for gas or water for the first time, speak to a taxi driver about going to a new location, buying groceries, figuring out how the stove works, or just venting. We know the parents of their friends because we work with the kids and the parents know us. We regularly travel as a family, and I feel we are closer than we would have been back in the States.

    (f) educators as parent role models.
    We have travelled as a family with other teachers, some of whom are single and some with their families. Our girls actually call another teaching couple Mrs. Mommy and Mr. Daddy when we are outside of school, since our two families are so close. Since none of the expats have extended family nearby, other teachers become our extended family.

    • Ettie Zilber says:

      Oh, Angela, thank you so much for taking the time to respond in such detail. My apologies for not responding sooner; I have been travelling and have neglected checking this blog. Your descriptions are exactly what so many of us have experienced.
      One thing, however- I have known numerous single parents who have been raising their kids while teaching in international schools. They are thriving because of many of the scenarios you have mentioned… not to mention earning a dignified salary and benefits. Think of a single teacher/parent working in the USA… how easy/difficult is that!
      Loved reading your response. Thank you
      Ettie

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