This is a question that many parents ask as they prepare to send their young son or daughter to school for the first time and while we may know that international education is good, we may not know the details. In order to help you gain a deeper understanding of how international schools operate, here are some important aspects of such an education.
- British or American Curriculum – If you are looking for an international school in Bangkok, for example, you have a choice of the UK or the US National Curriculum, both of which are highly regarded as the best there is. The most popular is the British curriculum and any student that graduates from such a school would be able to enter the university of their choosing, such is the reputation of the British system of education. If you have family in the US, for example, and you think there might be a chance for your son or daughter to study further education in America, then perhaps an international school that uses the US National Curriculum would be more suitable.
- Focused on IT – Information technology is very much the future and every international school student would have a sound understanding of IT as a topic and would be able to search the Internet, send and receive emails and make the best use of the current technology. If, for example, a student shows a high level of interest in computer science, they would be encouraged to take such courses in their high school years, in order to prepare for a career based in the IT field. Those who demonstrate a talent for computer science would be encouraged to set up projects that allow them to hone their IT skills and creating their own website is one way of doing just that. It is perfectly natural for a 15-year-old today to know much more about the digital world than their parents do, indeed, this is vital for a successful career and if your child shows an interest in computing, this should be actively encouraged.
- Child-Centred Education – As you would expect from a premier international school, the learning is active, rather than the students sitting in rows while the teacher instructs from the whiteboard. Most international schools use a project-based approach, whereby the students actually have a say in what they learn and by learning in groups, the students understand teamwork, while each member is assigned to different tasks. Learning by doing is widely accepted as the most effective way to learn, a system that was pioneered by Rudolph Steiner, who firmly believed that the learner should be at the centre of the learning process.
- Multi-Cultural Learning Environment – The very nature of an international school is offering top quality education to children from different ethnic backgrounds, which means the students are respectful of other religions, customs and beliefs. This helps the students to accept that we are all different in terms of our history and cultural beliefs and they are taught to be inclusive and do not regard other races in a negative way.
- Religious Tolerance – While many international schools are connected to religions, these should not be forced upon the students, indeed, students from different religious backgrounds are allowed to learn about their own religion, while respecting others.
- Equality for All – The mission and vision statements of any school should reflect their values, which include equality, and every student has equal rights, regardless of their background. Having this kind of upbringing results in young adults who are culturally aware and able to fit into a cosmopolitan community.
- English: The Language of Instruction – If, for example, a Thai family wishes for their son to become fluent in English, the international school is the best all-round solution. From the word go, the child is listening to English constantly and by the time they reach the middle years, their level of English is already upper-intermediate and they will be fluent by Year 10. It matters not where you come from, if you are not fluent in English by the time you leave school, you are already at a disadvantage, which is one of the reasons middle class Thai families send their kids to international schools.
- Leadership Qualities – Leadership is not something we teach, rather if a child demonstrates leadership skills, then this should be encouraged. As the child grows, they are handed more responsibility and any talent for being a leader is bound to reveal itself, which will result in all-round development.
The first place to start in your quest to find the best international school is with a Google search, which will bring up a list of international schools in your area and after some website browsing, you can book tours at the schools you select and then make a decision based upon the visits.