So, your child has decided they want to study abroad? That’s great! Living abroad is life-changing and can have a lasting positive effect on students of all ages, but it takes quite a bit of preparation. For a student who’s never lived abroad or hasn’t even approached high school yet, parental guidance is going to be especially important. Here are a few ways you can help your child prepare to reach their dream of studying abroad.
Define the benefits
There are countless benefits that come with studying abroad. This is the time to brainstorm with your child and think about everything they want to get out of the experience. Are they excited about living in another country for a while? Are they hoping to master their language skills? Do they see this as a road to their university choice? What’s the main benefit your child will get out of this opportunity? Knowing this can help you plan everything else and tailor it to their unique goals and needs.
Find the right program
Once you’ve nailed down what you and your student are expecting from the experience, it’s time to select the right program. It’s important to note that all study abroad programs are not the same. Just like your child’s education up to this point, this isn’t going to be something to approach with a one-size-fits-all attitude.
A great place to start is by considering the length of the program. Does your student want to study abroad for high school? If so, for how many semesters? If they’d like a shorter program, an exchange program might be ideal. Exchange programs can last for the entire school year or be as short as a semester.
If they’d like to do a longer program, the next thing you’ll want to think about is the curriculum. For students who want to study for a year or more, programs like the A-Levels, IB Diploma, or IGCSE will be beneficial for their high school career and beyond, as they help students prepare for university.
Guide them before they go
Moving to another country is a huge step at any age. It’s especially life-changing for adolescents, who might not have been away from their family before. While you can’t physically be by their side through their time abroad, you can help prepare them for similar realities before they head off. Do what you can to help them get familiar with what it’s like to live in another culture so it won’t come as such a shock when they arrive.
Make sure that you have everything in order for your child before they head out. This includes anything you’d normally have them look after throughout the year, like doctor and dental appointments to run a full health check ahead of time. If your student has any health issues, make the school and/or host family aware of them several months before departure. This helps ensure your student has the support they need the entire time they’re abroad.
You’ll also want to make sure you have all of the vital details like addresses, phone numbers, and points of contact ironed out well before your student takes off for their trip. Make sure your student also has all the information they need so they can always contact you and other loved ones in any situation, especially in the unlikely event of an emergency.