Family Friendly Schools

family-kid-pic43139Many schools and locations are great for kids while others, simply are not. If you’re a single parent or a teaching couple with kids, you most definitely want to make choosing a kid friendly school a top priority. After all, if your kids aren’t happy, neither will you be.

My kids grew up overseas from kindergarten through high-school graduation. Although I’m no expert on the topic, here are some things I feel you should consider when choosing a family friendly school. Click to Read complete article.

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28 Responses to Family Friendly Schools

  1. BigAaron says:

    You would be hard pressed to find a better international school than Nanjing International school if you have a family and both parents are working. High salaries, great accommodation, free tuition, and an overall excellent school. Plus, imagine having children that can speak Mandarin.


  2. Anonymous says:

    In Saudi we have found it difficult with the lack of opportunities for children as they get older, such as competitive sports, the Performing Arts. Relying on summer camps to keep them developing at a challenging level is not practical. We can’t hold on to only summers.


  3. poochie says:

    I am a parent of two children in the International School of Bergen. This is not an international school with an international teaching staff or administration. The Director came to the school as a dependent spouse with minimum experience worked her way up and has been as the school for 30 years . The majority of the staff are part time dependent spouses with little or no international teaching experience.The curriculum is ill conceived and executed Please think twice before relocating to the International School of Bergen in Norway.


  4. lippy says:

    We are looking to go to a job fair for the next year (10-11)and are starting to make our short list of family-friendly schools. If you have other advice for how to best find out about conditions at schools for families with school-age kids, let us know. We also are debating if going to ISS Bangkok is the best use of our time and resources as it is the first fair but is also very costly. Would we get the same offerings if we wait for ISS Boston a month later? Any advice-please share.


  5. Expat Dad says:

    My wife and I have been teaching overseas for the past ten years.

    Our two girls were both born in Malaysia and all up we spent 5 years there. Malaysia was extremely child friendly and there were a lot of families employed at the school. Our children were too young to attend the school but we were able to easily find an English language montessori pre-school for the eldest when the time came.

    As far as the students at our school (a mix of Asian and Western expat kids with a few ‘locals’) I can honestly say that they adored our children – actually I have yet to come across students as nice as they were here. Most of the other teaching families seemed very happy with Malaysia and stayed beyond initial contracts. There many children born to teachers during there contracts and medical care was often better than in our home countries.

    The climate, salary, availability of domestic help and close proximity to the rest of SE Asia were all a bonus. Our life-style was very comfortable (we lived in a large house, had a new car, employed a nanny and travelled a lot) even though we weren’t earning ‘the big bucks’ like other expats or at other schools in the region – and the EPF scheme provided a nice pay-out at the end of 5 years.

    Of course, the quality of schools vary and there are always changes in admin – so you should always check out individual schools carefully.


  6. Sharon Davis says:

    I was in the Mazapan School in La Ceiba, Honduras for two years. I did not have children but the families were very inclusive and supportive. I loved the Hondurans and their hospitable ways. It was a small school but because it is a tourist area they were very welcoming to outsiders. I highly recommend this school for families and Honduras in general. It is a small but EXCELLENT and totally accredited American School.


  7. happyfamily says:

    We’re living in Indonesia in a big house with a lovely yard/garden (and trampoline) with a pool opposite and a very safe gated community to ride around for our three kids who have very healthy social lives with local kids from their school. While it doesn’t suit everyone, if our kids are happy, we’re happy.


    • beth says:


      would you mind letting me know what school you’re at in indonesia? also i’m wondering if the current political climate has changed things at all? i know this is a year after the original post. thanks. 🙂



  8. inmydreams says:

    i am a single mother of three who has been dreaming of returning overseas for the past 13 years. three kids later, have lost my courage. there is so much to consider. if i could have it my way, i would go back to gabon (or perhaps another francophone country) to teach. int’l schools, however, seem to prefer teaching couples if there are 3 children. i’d prefer to teach in public school, but…..


    • Stateside says:

      inmydreams .. my husband and I had wrestled with the idea as well. We’ve been back in the states for 8 years now after being overseas for 10. But reading through the international blogs and corresponding with friends still abroad really helps me to appreciate my life and job here in the states.


  9. me too says:

    My small school community does not include teachers nor their kids in social activities outside the school day. It is very lonely for all of us, especially my husband and I. Yes, we are all the same nationality. I hate moving the kids, but there is only so long I can go without friends. Are parents more inclusive at other small schools? Have you always relied on other teachers and locals to hang out with? I really want to stay 5 yrs. and settle in.
    I am also dreaming of a yard for the kids. Any thoughts?


  10. lippy says:

    We have been off and on overseas for several years and now our kids are kinder and second grade ages. The school we are at now has 95% local population and this has made their experience very challenging to find their place/fit in. Although the school is very good academically, it is not a place we see staying past our 2 year contract. Knowing that we are ready and open to moving again, we need to find a family-friendly school/country where we could stay for 5 years. Do any of you know from experience schools in the world that you would recommend are great for expat kids? We are open to location and are thinking maybe Middle East or Asia-we also feel we need to make some money to save for college, etc.


    • Stateside says:

      We were in Riyadh at the American School for 10 years. Our children were born there, and we got them through the early elementary school years. AIS-R was once a magnificent school, yet I’m not sure what it’s like now. We lived in a very nice gated community and we made good money. The middle east is restricted living for Westerners, yet with raising little ones we didn’t have much time for socialization .. compound living was like the 1950’s. We never experienced a car accident, and used vans, taxi’s and personal transportation modes. You just learn the best time to stay out of traffic. We traveled mostly to beaches for vacations, and back and forth to the USA during summers. Looking back, those times were easy living and cushy jobs.


    • YoYoMe says:

      We found, with our two children, that life in SouthEast Asia was lovely for us all. The local children, were open, friendly and inclusive with our kids, plus eager, respectful learners with us as teachers. Consider Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and also in South Asia, India or Sri Lanka, for example. The salaries were fair and the travel potential fantastic.

      We lived in Africa for one year, in DR Congo, and the kids there were fine, too (mostly missionary and NATO families). I personally do NOT recommend that school or country, but think that the children would be welcoming to expat kids, and your children would certainly get a significant out-of-the-US experience in African nations–think South Africa, Kenya, Tunisia, for example.

      Eastern Europe is kinda hit-and-miss with salaries and acceptance of US kids, but worth exploring. The salaries in late ’90s were high, but that may have changed. However, Western Europe is tough–although your children would be comfortable, W.Europe does not allow anyone to make enough money to make it even close to worthwhile, and it’s the usual course for teachers to have to tutor for saving/living expenses. Especially those families with children will experience real financial difficulties.


    • teachingintokyo says:

      Try Japan, despite the fact that accommodation might be tight for a family, there are some deals out there and our school for example only has 10% of local children attend at school (policy).
      There are quite a few good schools here, some of which accept teachers children at zero or very low cost. Good luck. We are looking to move on from here to a family friendly school/country that is open-minded.


    • HK JM says:

      Also consider Hong Kong. We have our children in school here and have many friend here with children. The Chinese local student population is very accepting and a delight to work with. A friend told me once “Hong Kong will spoil you… will never leave”. I couldn’t agree more!


  11. camel's back says:

    The driving in Riyadh is so dangerous that your child may well be flying down the highway at 100mph plus speeds with no seat belts. If the school is far this adds to the risk. Car accidents is one of the greatest risks in many of these countries.


  12. camel's back says:

    Saudi Arabian Schools are not very family friendly because the rich, royal family boys tend to entertain themselves by bullying and harrasing the expat boys, similar to what was described by the lady who taught in Pakistan. My son had a miserable year and there tends to be no support from admin or parents.


    • Anonymous says:

      I would be interested to know if the Saudi Arabian Schools you refer to could possibly be International Schools? I would like to think the British and American International Schools would not tolerate bullying and harrassment of students at any level.


      • Sand Box says:

        I have just left Dhahran British Grammar School part of the ISG group in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It is a very family friendly school with free top quality child care (on site) and free school places. I was there for 6 years and 2 of my children were born in KSA. the nursery there takes care of the children during meetings nights and parent teacher conferences. It really is a good set up. They also provide a lump sum airfare in April for all of the family (if both parents are teachers) and it is 2/3 over the actual price for the flight. It is a very western styled school and not full of rich spoilt brats.


      • Anonymous says:

        Not even in International Schools, this sounds like a generalization. Our school has Character Education throughout the year and is a school wide endeavor. Anti-bullying is the first on the agenda. Seat belts are a must by law and a large fine is ensued. The “Sahar” system that was introduced catches offenders by camera and sends out outrageously high fines for offenses. Bullying by royals can be avoided by not giving in or simply choosing average size to smaller schools. Then again, I wouldn’t work in Riyadh unless I was given a compound as accommodation, it’s not female friendly and I find it quite boring.


  13. ss says:

    we are considering a move to Guatemala with our 4th and 7th grader. may i ask where you taught in guatemala?


    • LuapG says:

      We were in Guatemala City at Colegio Maya. The school was made up mostly of wealthy Guatemalan kids. They excluded my high achieving, 6th grade, blond-haired daughter and she had a bad year at the school. This was in 1991.

      The kids at the school displayed a sickening sense of entitlement and the school even supported these wealthy students over the teachers. I had a high school kids tell me to go F— myself. The school counselor asked him to choose a day during the following week that would be convenient for him to stay home. This was the discipline program.

      Things may have changed by now at the school. But one thing I’m sure hasn’t changed is the fact Guatemala City can be a dangerous place.


  14. Stateside says:

    It’s funny. As a former international teacher, I’m reading this article and these posts realizing that the issues are the same for we parents in stateside schools. Finding a town, a home, a job, schools that serve the needs of your children at their developmental levels while providing a good education, good incentive packages, cost of living, etc. is a daunting task for any parent. Stateside or abroad.


  15. YoYoMe says:

    I have to add this:
    Consider the emotional comfort level of your child with the potential of having a parent as their teacher. Particularly in small schools, they may even have you as their classroom teacher and for most children, that just simply is not acceptable; it’s much more complicated than if they just slip up and call you ‘mum’. If you are the PE coach, the art/music/computer/or remedial reading teacher, for example, it’s obvious that your child very well might be your student. My most difficult student in art classes (at a very small school in Thailand) was, by far, my outspoken, stubborn, virally creative, yet resentful MS daughter! She didn’t want me to discipline her friends and god forbid I should ever make a critical remark of her artwork! I couldn’t wait for her to finish that year with me.

    Also, how does your child feel about having their teaching parents know every single detail, immediately, of any slight discipline problem, poor test score, inappropriate comment/action made by them (and/or their friends), that may be shared ‘with the best of intentions’ by your child’s teacher to you–at the coffee station, the mailbox, the staff room, in the hallways? It makes most children very uncomfortable to be under such constant scrutiny.

    As a parent, this puts you in a difficult situation as well, in that you can’t exactly say to your childrens’ teachers, “I don’t want to know every time little Junior burps out loud!” OR “Tell me everything, immediately ’cause I want to supervise my child’s education!” It’s certainly a delicate balance.

    And, finally, how does a teacher, without causing ill feelings, help their child when it’s obvious that their child has a crappy teacher, or a bad situation in the classroom/ball field/with friends, withOUT seeming like you’re trying to control a colleague just because your child is in this class? Again, a very, very delicate situation to balance. And, any way you handle tough situations, your child will emotionally absorb your concern/disgust/anxiety/need to control/resentment/anger/stress/you-fill-in-the-blank BOTH at home and at the school.


  16. Expatparent says:

    Great article! I just want to reiterate how important it is to find out about the student body. In South America the mostly local students at our school were warm and friendly with our kids. However, the English proficiency level was very low. It was no problem for us because our kids were little, but I would not have wanted my kids to be in High School there. In West Africa we were in a powerhouse school that challenged and engaged our kids. In the Middle East the local kids were mean and aggressive. As any parent knows you can put up with a lot of things, but having your kids unhappy or unsafe is not one of them. Hey, maybe International Schools Review could add that as a category for rating!


  17. aprilmay says:

    For me, small schools did not work out as well, because often the students were already very close (esp. if they were locals) and tended to completely exclude new students, including my own. Once we transferred to a larger school, my children had a much easier time of it.


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