Going International with Special Needs Children

Submitted and written by ISR member:

Going International with a special needs child can make it tough to find a good school match, but it is well worth the search on the front-end because the consequences of having a poor match of schools can be devastating for your child.

Some schools flat-out state that teachers with kids who have any kind of learning differences or special needs, Need NOT Apply! This can be the danger of having an existing IEP and assuming it will be addressed in a competent manner.

Many  “need not apply” schools insist they are keeping a ‘high standard of education’ when in reality the teachers simply do not have a strong background in differentiated learning. The longer some educators have been teachers overseas, I have seen them hide behind the old fashioned instructional/traditional insistence that kids who learn differently are not capable of achieving great things when they have multiple strategies/assessments in their corners. Don’t be fooled. The best practice schools can manage a highly competitive IB or AP HS program and still maintain high expectations for kids with learning disabilities.

The state department uses some wonderful consultants through Families in Global Transitions. They are familiar with strong international academic support programs. You want to scour websites and read philosophies carefully. You need to ask extensive questions of existing staff because often those schools have experienced a turnover in academic support services.

Listen for that attitude of “all kids can learn and our job is to have have high expectations for them.” With the right environment, the small class sizes can be miraculous. In the wrong setting, when you add the transition stress and often the language differences, as well as your own adjustment and starting new jobs, settling in, and the dynamic of living in a fish bowl with your colleagues, it is hard to be the parent advocate the kids deserve.

With that said, however, the researches also say that the kind of lifestyle that opens up a kid’s mind and stretches their understanding of the world can also open up brain neurons they never knew they had.

We invite you to participate in this discussion, share information, ask questions and provide support.

Do feel free to list resources and the names of schools with comprehensive special needs programs. But school bashing is strictly prohibited and any such posts will be removed and the poster blocked.

Going International with Children

True international schools are culturally diverse with a rainbow of nationalities represented. Eating sushi at a Japanese friend’s house, hearing Norwegian spoken between classmates, participating in cultural fairs or having Indian mothers paint henna designs on your kids’ hands is just a sampling of a “normal” childhood overseas.

If you’ve already lived internationally, you know daily living can be much easier than back home. Hiring a nanny, housekeeper or cook is an enormous benefit to any parent. When you get home from work, there is no cooking, cleaning, or laundry responsibilities — hooray! More time can be devoted to family. There are many delightful benefits to going international with children, not the least of which is watching your children become world citizens.

Of course, not every location is Shangri-La. There are important factors to consider when choosing a school & host country with your children in tow. Here are some points to take into consideration:

• Does the job allow a lifestyle that emphasizes family time?
• Are there medical & dental facilities that meet my family’s needs?
• Is there an acceptable level of stability & safety?
• Is trustworthy childcare available? Are English-speaking nannies affordable?
• Does the school’s benefit package include dependents’ tuition, insurance, & flights?
• Do the school’s programs meet my child’s needs?
• Is the school ‘family-friendly’, supporting teachers when family needs arise?
• Is the school population diverse? Will my child make friends & be accepted?

Whether you’re a single mom/dad or a couple, moving overseas with children of any age can pose extensive benefits. ISR invites you to visit the Going International with Children Blog & share personal experiences, ask questions & most of all, keep each other informed.

Our Family Is Not So Happy!

After years of working toward our goal, we’ve finally accepted a job at a small IB school in China. Both my husband and I are so very excited! We’ve talked to a lot of staff at the school–we think it’ll be a great experience and a substantial foot in the door toward international teaching careers.

Our family is, well….not so happy! Not so happy to the point we are constantly told we’re making a huge mistake, that we’re tearing apart our families, wrong and childish for not settling down and popping out grandchildren. They’re mystified as to why we’d leave our country at all, “the greatest country in the world!”

So, experienced overseas teachers, how do you deal with everyone telling you what you’re doing is a horrible, life-destroying mistake? Do your families come visit to cheer you on, or do they continue to insist you’re ruining your and their lives? How do you deal or cope? It’s becoming increasingly hard to feel excited and happy about our decision when every family member around is telling us we’re doing it all wrong.

I’m the original author of  this blog post, and I just wanted to thank everyone so much for sharing their own stories and their thoughts and support. My husband and I read over each post together. It’s so heartening to hear from so many people.
That doesn’t change our families opinions, of course. They’re still going to dislike what we’re doing, but in the end, we’re the ones who have to get up every morning and live with the choices we’ve made, not them.

Thank you all so much. We’ll keep reading anything anyone has to add, because it’s just wonderful to hear so many encouraging stories. Thank you, thank you.

Help with International Shipping

 It’s been our experience that shipping agents, used-car salesmen and politicians have one description in common: ‘If they’re breathing, they’re probably concealing something from us.”

Shipping companies are particularly dangerous because once they have your precious, personal belongings in their “care”, they will hold them hostage until you pay all additional, trumped up charges. Everyone at ISR recalls being taken advantage of by a shipping company during one or more of their many international moves. This prompts us to endeavor to keep you safe with our article titled,  Don’t Get Burnt with International Shipping. We strongly recommend you give this article a read if you’re in the process of moving overseas or returning home.

“On my last move oversees the school’s shipper told me I would need to bribe customs $600 to retrieve my shipment due to missing documents. It turned out the documents were just “misplaced” when I produced a receipt proving they had been delivered by UPS to the same man asking for the money. On the return trip home 3 years later, the Stateside company tacked on a $300 sea inspection charge. I imagine that involved looking to see if my sealed crate was still on the boat mid-journey. Thieves!!!”

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing your “big” international school has clout with their shipping company and this will keep you safe. The truth is, your school’s shipping company only contracts with the company that packs and sends your belongings overseas, and receives them on the return trip. Your school’s shipper may treat you right while in country, but they don’t have reciprocal agreements with companies around the world and commonly use a phone directory to choose the company that handles your goods in your city.

“I got an email this morning, from a shipper which said I need to approve the costs before they proceed with packing. The quote had me paying over $1400! My school provides 3.5 cbm which I thought was plenty, but the quote estimated I would need 5.0 cbm. I’m only shipping 2 office chairs & six or seven boxes. All my stuff is in a storage unit that’s less than 3.5 cbm and I’m probably using 20% of the space. What is going on!?”

It’s important to stay pro-active to avoid being ripped off by unscrupulous shippers. Those of us who have navigated the ordeal of shipping our belongings overseas are here to offer advice to teachers new on the circuit. If you have a question, advice or a good anecdotal story about shipping your goods overseas this Blog is the place to post it.

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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