Moving to a new country can be tough – especially adjusting to being away from family and living in a new environment. Choosing education options for your children in a different place can make the transition even more difficult. For families looking for an American curriculum or school, an option that is growing in popularity is online or virtual education. An online school can be ideal, especially for families that travel frequently; and, with its individualised style of learning, it’s also a good fit for students who are looking to get ahead or catch up on their studies.
We spoke with Hannah Rinehart, director at International Connections Academy (iNaCA), about some of the essential points for families who are considering the switch to online learning.
Why do expat families choose online schools?
Some families opt for online learning because they are constantly travelling or on the move; iNaCA allows for consistent education, even during periods of travel. Others choose our school because the curriculum meets US standards, and students earn US diplomas upon graduating. This might not be available in the country they are residing in.
Access to a wide range of courses not often found at a local school abroad is yet another reason. At iNaCA, the curriculum is designed for college preparedness. There are core classes in mathematics, science, English and social studies, as well as honors, Advanced Placement and elective courses.
Do online school students have opportunities to socialise?
Yes, students interact with teachers and classmates in online classrooms. They receive one-on-one support from their teachers by phone and email. They also have access to clubs and activities to meet other students around the world. The flexibility of an online school also allows students to engage with their local communities or participate in extracurricular activities.
How can parents help ensure a smooth transition to an online school?
International Connections Academy provides families with orientation materials to help bring students up to speed. Families are also encouraged to get to know the teachers – they can ask questions, send introductory webmails or schedule Skype sessions.
It takes some practice to figure out how best to benefit from online schooling and this differs amongst students. Some students prefer starting lessons early in the morning, while others prefer learning in the afternoon. By figuring out what works best for your family, learning will be more successful.
How do families living abroad feel about online learning at iNaCA?
A 2016 satisfaction survey polled families in 30 countries and found that 95 percent of parents rated the curriculum as “excellent” or “good”. Also, 77 percent of parents said that quality teachers was the most important thing they were looking for when they chose the school.
How do I get started?
The school requires proof-of-age documentation for each child, which differs based on your country of citizenship. Your child will also need to produce a past academic record, which could be a report card or transcript.
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