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Learn & Flourish

An expats guide to selecting an international school for your child


Courtesy of Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Parenting is hard work at the best of times; and relocating to another country, navigating life in a new language, adapting to cultural differences, and finding a new school adds to the stress of the job. It can be difficult to know how to keep everyone secure and happy.


Overall, children are fairly adaptable. But selecting a school for your child where they learn and flourish in their new environment is not always easy. We asked Yasemin Kunze-Concewitz, Founder of YKC Bosphorus Relocation to provide us with some helpful tips to consider when selecting an international school in Turkey.


ACCREDITATION

There are many accreditation institutions with the leading accreditation being International Baccalaureate (IB) accreditation. This is especially important for children in secondary school. As an example, Istanbul International Community School (IICS) in Istanbul has all three IB accreditations: Primary Years Program, Middle Years Program and Diploma Program.


Most schools should have some type of international accreditation that can be checked. Types of accreditations include:

  • IB Accreditations

  • CIS (Council of International Schools)

  • NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges)


What is the importance of an IB School?

The IB system allows international parents to have continuity from one school to another no matter the country. For example, if a family moves from Vienna to Istanbul to Beijing, the child in an IB school accreditation system has a fairly consistent quality of education with similar teaching certification from one city to the next.


If the school offers IB the diversity of subjects is important, but this is only for diploma level students, Grades 11 and 12.


DISTANCE & TRAVEL TIME FOR CHILDREN

Many international schools have large campuses. Therefore, it is not uncommon for the schools to be outside of the city central areas. This is especially true for Istanbul where two of the top three international schools are located in Zekeriyaköy and Büyükçekmece, many kilometers from more central areas of Istanbul.


This commute may scare some families. Therefore, careful consideration needs to be taken as to where they live along with the location of the school and parent's job.


LANGUAGE SUPPORT

Some children coming to Turkey have little to no knowledge of English. Therefore, if needed, it is important that the school offers language support so these children can be communicating and learning in English within the first six months.


INTERNATIONAL POPULATION

Children gain a positive life experience from living overseas in a different culture. Therefore, for many families it is important that there is a healthy population of international students at the school.


SPECIAL NEEDS SUPPORT

More and more parents are coming to Turkey with children who require a school with special needs support. Unfortunately, not all international schools can provide this as it is an extra cost.


NATIVE TEACHERS

It is always best to learn a language from a native-language teacher. Additionally, instructors at international schools should have a strong command of the language of the school. For example, if the language of the school is French all instructors should have the ability to effectively communicate in that language. Typically, this is not an issue with accredited international schools; however, it is always good to verify.


COVID-19 GUIDELINES

The coronavirus pandemic has changed how we live and interact with others. The Turkish government has outlined steps for schools to take in the wake of the pandemic. It is important to check with the school individually as to the steps they are taking to meet these guidelines as well as additional precautions (both from a health and communication/instructional standpoint).


PRICE

A lot of times, the multinational employer that brings in the expat family pays for the schooling. However, this is not always the situation. Therefore, price does play into the decision process. The average tuition fee for international schools in Turkey (and especially Istanbul) cost 15.000-30.000 USD per year per student.


OTHER POINTS OF CONSIDERATION

  • Teacher turnover

  • Are bus services provided by the school?

  • What are the class sizes?

  • What extra-curricular activities are available?

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