If you’re moving overseas and you have school age kids, finding a school for them is one of the main issues you focus on for months in advance. We were not blessed with much help in our research so we had to find our own way and I thought I’d share what we did in case it might help someone else out there in our position.
International schools in Singapore often have long waiting lists and are, whether right or wrong, very picky about whom they choose to offer entry to as it affects their academic standing. Whether right or wrong, it is often a challenge if you happen to have kids with special learning needs. I would encourage you to do your homework if you have special needs children. Ask the schools for specific references of other parents that you might contact. If they don’t give you any, then you pretty much know that school won’t be a fit. Think about it, if you were able to help another family with special needs kids, wouldn’t you? Probably so, so if the school has no references for you, they probably don’t have any.
We searched out schools where we were moving to, Singapore, used the limited information we received from our company, dug deep into their websites and searched the net for blog posts, google images and even youtube videos to find out anything we could and then we emailed our top 5 choices. And simple as it sounds, the school with the answers we were most comfortable with is the one we chose. They also happened to be the one with the most prompt reply to the initial email and subsequent correspondence and that made points as well.
Below is the email we sent out to our five top school choices. I’ve left out the details of our personal family situation but we did begin with a brief overview of our children’s ages and current school status, where we moving from, etc. We were actually homeschooling before we moved to Singapore so that also threw a little kink in things with some schools we emailed. I’m not sure some knew what to do with that which also helped narrow our choices. Btw, home schooling is a viable option. You have to be a little creative in the social aspect and shipping curriculum but it can work. We’re on our 2nd year now of home schooling in Singapore and it works for us.
So, I hope this will be helpful for someone. It worked for us. Our son graduated from the school we chose. We did end up pulling our daughter out after her first year but it was a personal choice for us to home school her again based on several factors that did not fully reflect on the school itself.
Feel free to cut and paste and make it your own.
Our names are ……. and we will be relocating to …… in ……….. for work. We will be in Singapore at least one year, possibly two. We are moving from ………….
(insert brief overview of your children’s grades and current school situation)
We are writing to ask a couple of questions specifically about (school name) as it applies to (your children’s names) as they will be attending school in Singapore during the …. school year and potentially the following. We have researched your school online and also have a brochure packet we received from our employer. We would appreciate any other information that you might think would benefit us in making our decision.
How do you help students adapt to a new school in a different culture?
What would you say might be the biggest difference(s) between your school and the typical US school?
How will attending (school name) affect our children as they integrate back into American school / college in a couple of years?
Do the values, standards, facilities, curriculum, programs, etc. stated or depicted on your website accurately reflect your school throughout a typical day to day experience?
What are the class sizes and the teacher/student ratio in both (your child’s grades levels) at (school name)?
How do your high school courses compare to the AP (Advanced Placement) courses in US schools?
Do you offer American Curriculum and the IB Program? If so, what would be the advantage of choosing one over another in our given situation?
What are issues that current parents face that have children on two different campuses?
What would be the advantage(s) of our children attending (school name) over any other international school in Singapore?
What might be the disadvantage(s) of our children attending (school name).
As we are searching for the right school for our children, is there anything specific that we should be made aware of concerning your school (positive or negative)?
What is our next step should we choose to apply for our children to attend (school name)?
We appreciate you taking the time to reply.