International School
I Am A Mom, Raising Global Citizens And TCK's, Raising Multilingual Children

5 Reasons We Chose an International School

International School

In the Netherlands where we live, there are plenty of schools to choose from: religious, Montessori, “traditional” local schools, and international schools. We chose one of the latter. Not all international schools are the same, of course. Some offer a variety of languages and cultural programs while others cater more to a specific nationality, for example French, German and British just to name a few. Some call themselves bilingual or immersion schools. The choice was huge, and after giving the issue a lot of thought, we picked one with a more multicultural curriculum.

Maybe you didn’t know that international schools can be found across the US as well. You can check this great list on Wikipedia, organized by state if you’re interested. There are many reasons why parents would choose this type of school for their children. Here are ours.

1)      We want our children to appreciate different languages and cultures. All of us, including our three children, speak multiple languages every day, and we want the children’s school to mirror our family life. We think that speaking many languages is a valuable asset. In an international school, they will also be able to get in touch with children from other cultures and we think that kids everywhere will benefit from such encounters.

2)      We want good quality, child-centred education. Obviously, not all international schools are good and not all local schools are bad. However, the school we chose is not only renowned for its high quality education but it is also very child-centred. The teachers check what each individual child is able to do and start from there. The students also have a long recess outside every day unless the weather is bad, and they have a cafeteria that serves warm, nutritious lunches. I think all parents want this for their children, no matter where they are.

3)      It made sense financially. Before the school opened, we were torn between choosing a local school and a different international school. The problem is that good quality Dutch schools would have a long waiting list, but since my husband works at an international organization, our children had priority registration at the school we picked. International schools are usually expensive, but luckily, my husband’s employer pays for our children’s education. All of these things came together to help us choose the best option.

4)      We want good communication with the school. Seriously, who doesn’t? I think a good relationship with the school is still important. We speak fluent Dutch, but for the most important things like how our children are doing at school, we still prefer English. We wanted to make sure we can understand everything and are able to communicate our needs to the school as well.

5)      The school is integrated into the Dutch system. While the school features many languages, it is still integrated into the Dutch system. We don’t want our children to live in an expat bubble; on the contrary, we wish for them to feel at home in the Netherlands. Their school has a Dutch curriculum and celebrates Dutch holidays. Vacation is aligned with vacation time all over the country. That way, our children would get the best of both worlds.

There are trade-offs, of course. For example, instead of just walking to school, we send our daughter on the school bus that takes around 30-45 minutes each way. It is challenging to be involved with the school in any meaningful way other than making sure that she gets there on time, and coming to the parent-teacher conferences once every few months. And I’ve only met the other parents a few times.

So far, our experience has been wonderful and we’re extremely happy with our choice. So happy in fact, that we will send our second daughter to the same school when she’s old enough, and our son will follow suit.

Of course we know that we’re very privileged to afford such a school and that not everyone has this possibility. But there are certainly benefits to an international or bilingual education wherever you live and maybe it will prove just the right decision for you.

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  • Reply Bronwyn Joy September 13, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, boy – you’re lucky having it paid for! But it’s good to mull over the different angles as we also start our school journey next year.
    Bronwyn Joy recently posted…A picture of urine-soaked paper disguised as a request for opinions on old guide booksMy Profile

  • Reply Katherine September 29, 2014 at 12:24 am

    Nice post! By the way, I saw your post regarding raising multilingual children. I just recently gave birth to a little girl and really want to be successful in raising a multilingual child, but i’m not really confident in doing it. I am a Chinese-Indonesian who speaks English, Indonesian, Chinese and a little Italian. I’m currently married to a Chinese-Italian and is currently living in Italy. We speak Chinese with each other but speak italian while working (we own a restaurant). My husband on the other hand only speaks Chinese and Italian. I want to speak to my daughter in Indonesian but is also afraid that she won’t be able to speak good English if I didn’t speak English to her (Italians like the majority of Europeans surprisingly doesn’t really find English important). But I’m also not very confident on my English. I’m really confused on how to approach on this. Everytime we are out with my in laws we speak chinese, and it felt really weird when I speak English to her and I am the only one who understands the language. It is already a challenge to speak English to her, moreover if i were to speak Indonesian too..Should I just give up and speak Chinese to her instead ?(we live in chinatown where everyone in the community mostly.speaks chinese). i wouldn’t worry so much about Italian since she will be studying in Italian school,she will have plenty of time to learn the language.

  • Reply Angie September 29, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    What a very interesting post. I was actually just researching international schools today and have been thinking a lot about the potential benefits. I really do agree with you about creating an appreciation for all cultures.

    Angie from reasons to dress, please stop by!
    Angie recently posted…Urban Renewal & Regeneration {Modena is not Toronto} The Story of the Manifattura Tabacchi LoftsMy Profile

    • Reply Olga Mecking October 2, 2014 at 8:22 am

      Hi Angie, thank you for your your input. Yes, cultural appreciation, that’s the most important part, I think!

  • Reply Romana October 17, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    hej Olga, przeczytalam kilka Twoich postow.

    Ja mieszkam w Tokyo, mam 1 corke 16 letnia, Polke i
    druga 6 letni, pol-Japonke. Obie chodza do szkoly francuskiej. Starsza possla do szkoly francuskiej juz w Polsce zanim wyjechalysmy za granice, bo juz jako 14 latka postanowilam wyslac dzieci do szkoly francuskiej- kiedys w przyszlosci,, zeby byly co najmniej dwujezyczne.
    Starsza zna b. dobrze 3 jezyki- polski, francuski i angielski oraz troche japonski oraz uczy sie w szkole od 3 lat tez i niemieckiego.
    Mlodsza zna polski i japonski i chodzi 2 rok do szkoly francuskiej i juz naparawde dobrze porozumiewa sie i po francusku; troszke zna i angielski.
    pozdrawiam z Tokyo

    • Reply Olga Mecking October 27, 2014 at 7:47 am

      Hej Romana, dziękuję za komentarz. Ale fajną masz rodzinę, gratulacje! Wspaniale, że zdecyowałaś się wychować swoje córki w tyloma językami, brawo! I wpadaj czasem!

  • Reply IBA | Best of The Best, IBA Weekly Roundup #8 November 28, 2014 at 6:06 am

    […] 5 Reasons We Choose an International School – Written by Olga at The European Mama […]

  • Reply Homeschooling in the Netherlands April 28, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    […] on available options, our children’s languages and quality of school. We chose a great international school for our kids and are very happy with […]

  • Reply Olga July 18, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you for the interesting post! Could you please tell if possible which international school do you mean ? Thank you

  • Reply Jackstace May 27, 2016 at 12:55 pm


    indeed a very nice share..
    After reading this I can say that International schools allows you to learn or test your foreign language abilities, hone cross-cultural skills, and see the world in a different light.
    No matter what your future field, expanding your horizons by spending time abroad will help bring you closer to your goals.

    I think this will be best post for all the parents who want to enroll there child in international schools…

    keep up doing good work

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