British-born Ian Vollbracht works for the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra, northern Italy. He has an eight-year-old daughter and six-year-old twin boys with his wife Nadine, who is from Strasbourg, France. Here, as part of our series on international schooling, he discusses the children’s school: the European School in Varese.
For a bilingual family, the big attraction of the European school system is that the children are taught in both their main languages. In the secondary part of the school, for example, children in the French section study humanities subjects in, say, English or German.
The upsides of an international education . . .
Provided that children can integrate — which is certainly often easier for bilingual children or children from mixed cultural backgrounds — the linguistic and social confidence that come from growing up in a multicultural, multilingual environment are surely positive aspects of international schools.
. . . and the downsides
The issue is not the school but rather the time it takes to build up the support network that you need as parents, including: doctor, dentist and, with no grandparents just around the corner, babysitter.
Speak to parents and teachers at the new school if you can, to understand what is different and why that is so. The better you can understand the cultural differences before you arrive, the better you will be able to explain them to your children before they start at the school.
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