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Selecting an international school: Tip #12 – Is the school parent-friendly?

What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at an international school abroad as well?  There are many different kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations.  How important is finding out about how parent-friendly the international school is?  It could be beneficial to ask these types of questions at your interview, before you make any big decisions to move or choose an international school at which to work.  So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at?  In this blog series, we will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #12 – Is the school parent-friendly?

parent-teacher-conferenceIt is very important that the international school (that you are considering working at/sending your child to attend) communicates well with parents in order to keep them abreast of school policies, events and other developments. With the parents kept the most informed as possible, they are happier and more at ease about surprise changes that happen at the school.

Some people might say that international school parents are a little bit more (or A LOT more) invested in what is going on at their children’s school.  Normally international schools have two parent teacher conferences during the school year, but those meetings can be as short as 20 minutes (not really much time to share everything that you’d really like to share).

But at an international school, you might find that you are meeting with parents more often than just two parents teacher conferences!  Many international school parents like to set up more conferences with their teacher, meeting before or after school.  They just want to “catch up” with what is going on at school and how their child is doing.  They also want to give the teacher an update on how things are going at their home.  These extra meetings can be really beneficial to have for all parties involved, but it is smart-thinking to make sure that these meetings also stay to a minimum (you don’t want the parents to constantly wanting to set up extra meetings with you…that’s for sure!).  Some international school parents will have one person that stays at home all day (a n0n-working spouse).  Those parents will have all the time in the day to meet with you!  I worked with one international school teacher that wouldn’t even give out his email address to the parents of his students. Even knowing that communicating with parents via email is a great way to “get the job done”, there are definitely international school parents that will take advantage of having your email address.

In terms of communication with parents, you school might use a common online (password protected) resource for the parents to keep informed and stay up to day with all school happenings.  It is great to have a “get-all-information” place for parents to go to whenever they want to know what is going on at school.  Teachers can upload pictures and videos to this online portal, as well as putting up newsletters each month or so to let parents know more about curriculum-related things.

Even when an international school has the best communication possible all set up and running smoothly, there are always going to be some international school parents that just don’t make the effort to participate in this excellent communication.  It is true that even if a school has a really clear plan for communication with parents, communication is a two-way street.  Some international school parents have better things to do or bigger worries/concerns on their plate to make time for effectively utilizing (or even fully knowing about) the school’s current way of communicated with parents.  We had a parent come in recently stating that they didn’t know anything what their child was learning at school (and other things), but when asked if they will looking at the online parent portal, they of coursed answered…no.

So how is parent-friendly is your international school?


Have a specific international school in mind that you thinking of applying at? Check out our “Where our Members have worked” page and start contacting some of our members that know about the international school you are interested in knowing more about. Our 3000+ members currently work at (or have worked at in the past) 516 different international schools.  Feel free to send them a private message related to finding out more about how parent-friendly at their international school.

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 8.55.12 PMFurthermore, we have a comment topic section that is for parents to fill out or for teachers to share more information about how parent-friendly their international school is.  It is called: PARENTS ONLY – General comments from parents of students that go to this school.  Here are a few comments that have been submitted in that sections:

“At the old school in Tay Ho, VAIS, many parents withdrew their kids due to complaints that the Korean CEO who decided he was qualified to teach TOEFL prep classes so he could save on a qualified teacher, would openly cuss the students out in Korean during class and many students complained the class was more a Korean discussion class than an English one. He does not manage those classes any longer and thankfully so.” – Vietnam American International School (47 Total Comments)

“As a teacher/parent, I felt my kids had a solid group of other teachers’ kids to hang out with. There is a solid community feel in general and it is a welcoming atmosphere.” – Anglo American School of Sofia (21 Total Comments)

“Decisions made at the school are mostly knee-jerk reactions, and seem not to have a lot of fore-thought. This results in confusion and frustration, with parents, students and staff unclear where the boundaries are.” – Oeiras International School (28 Total Comments)