I have so often heard the comments, “I could never take my children overseas; I couldn’t do that to them,” or “ my partner/spouse and I want to start a family so we are leaving the international school to return ‘home’”. Well, all I can say is, ‘what a pity!’ What a pity for these families, who, perhaps do not realize the many advantages of living overseas and raising their children as Third Culture Kids within the school family, and …what a pity for our international schools, when we cannot access or acquire the skills of many of these quality educators.
Therefore, my motivation to research this particular family paradigm was both altruistic and selfish. Altruistic, because I wanted others to enjoy much of the pleasure I observed among staff who had their children in their school and my own personal experience having my children here, too. I have observed the wonderful family atmosphere at schools which have many staff children on roll. Selfish, because, as a school Director, I wanted to grow the pool of skilled and professional candidates for my schools.
Being a pioneer in this field of research, I was able to coin my own moniker for these children of educators who are studying in the same school – EdKids. (how exciting!)
So, I would love to expand on the themes from my research (see blog 4) one at a time. I would love to hear from you on each category. Let me hear how you view these observations and commentaries. Have you had similar experiences? Different experiences? What would you recommend can be done to improve the positives?
Theme 1: The practical and economic benefits
The practical benefits of family members working and studying in the same school include the seemingly obvious fact that parents and children have the same weekly and yearly timetable, calendar, and holidays. Educator families have similar holidays, similar community events, and common relationships. The daily morning schedule, breakfast, family commute to and from work/school make daily life do-able. As one educator said, ‘it simplifies life’.
The advantage of free tuition for dependents was a great benefit. Since many believe that the quality of private and independent school education is higher than in public schools, sending one’s child to a private school would not be a financially viable option ‘back home’. The economic advantages are numerous, as well. While salaries are all over the spectrum from low to high, educators quickly learn that it is NOT the salary which is ultimately the important variable. Rather it is the potential for disposable income or savings. Since many schools also offer travel, health, housing, utilities, professional development allowances, much of the salary can be relegated to savings each month – or exciting travel or purchase opportunities.
Add to that, a double income of a teaching couple, plus the income tax exclusions (for U.S. citizens). The final equation is that educators may be able to live a more financially dignified lifestyle overseas than back home. And, with financial stability, comes a certain level of calm, or, at least lessening of anxiety. You can imagine how this plays into the equation of raising your children.
Love to hear your thoughts! Ettie firstname.lastname@example.org
Let me know how I can support your students, parents, staff and Board
Zilber, E. (2005). International school Educators and their Children. JRIE., vol. 4 (1), 5-11.
Zilber, E. (2009). Third Culture Kids: Children of International School Educators, John Catt., Ltd.