The kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Indochina, Myanmar and Southern China. Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions : the mountains and forests of the North; the vast rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-arid farm lands of the Northeast plateau; and the tropical islands and long coastline of the Southern peninsula. The location of Thailand makes it strategically placed as an attractive investment destination and a connector for foreign investment.
Bangkok is the capital city and centre of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities. With its proud history, tropical climate and renowned hospitality, the Kingdom is a never-ending source of fascination and pleasure for international visitors.
There are over 100 International Schools in Thailand offering education in English and other languages such as French, German, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. These schools offer education from K-12 for local and international students. Upon graduation, students are able to progress to Universities all over the world; many gaining entry into top Universities.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL IN THAILAND
Choosing a school is an important decision all families face at some time or other. Parents have various motivations for sending their children to an international school in Thailand. The obvious reason is when a family from overseas moves to the country. There are also Thai families choosing to educate their child at an international school in Thailand primarily to ensure that the child becomes proficient in English and prepared to enter reputable Universities in the world. An increasing number of families living in South East Asia are opting to send their children to an international school in Thailand, as the country is rapidly becoming a hub for quality international education. Whatever the reason may be, once parents opt for an education other than a local school at “home”, choosing a school can be quite daunting. It is well worth doing a little research to find the best match for your child.
When faced with the large number of schools to choose from, unfamiliar curricula, and perhaps an unknown city and few close friends to draw on for advice many parents opt for ‘the best’ school in the area, as defined by guidebooks and local websites - regardless of curriculum, distance to travel, size of school, accreditation and many other factors which will directly affect their child’s learning and enjoyment of their time at the school. One of the broadest and most ill- advised ways of defining ‘the best’ school is by looking only at the cost of studying there and the misconception that the most expensive school will necessarily offer the best education for your child as an individual.
One evident consideration that many parents unintentionally overlook when choosing a school is the compatibility of the overall school environment with their child’s personality. Parents who know and understand their child’s character and learning style will naturally make an informed choice based on the needs of their child. Knowing what makes your child unique and how you can make the most of who they are is a safe bet for a happy and successful education. Naturally,one of the largest benefits in educating children abroad is being able to tailor their education to their specific skills.
In terms of academic success, parents need to consider how their child learns best and which curriculum supports that type of learning. By having some prior knowledge of your child’s learning style, you can make an informed choice by visiting prospective schools and asking directly relevant questions as to the teaching styles and concepts used in the classroom. This is particularly valuable when looking at an unfamiliar curriculum and weighing up the advantages that it could bring to your child’s education.
Once you feel you have a good understanding of your child’s strengths and abilities, finding the best curriculum to foster these skills is made easier. The majority of parents will be presented with a choice of international schools which fall into four main curricula categories:
- American curriculum
- British curriculum
- International Baccalaureate curriculum
- Other national curricula (French, German,Japanese, Canadian, Australian, etc.)
Each system has its advantages and disadvantages and of course, each school has its own strengths and weaknesses within their particular curriculum. There are also other curricula which do not fall into any of these categories, but may be developed by an individual school, or by individual people.
- Extra-curricular activities
Another aspect parents should look at when selecting a school is the opportunity students get to take their learning out of the classroom. Study trips, extra-curricular activities and opportunities for community work not only provide students with a way to explore their interests, apply skills and concepts from class in real-life settings, and to become well- rounded people, these activities also help students with their university applications. With more students now going to college year after year, participation in extra-curricular activities demonstrates that students are well-rounded and have more to offer than academic prowess. Schools that offer a more process oriented approach to extra-curriculars will put an emphasis on creating ways for students to grow intellectually, emotionally and in their ability to lead and take on serious responsibility-all of which will highlight their core strengths.
Once parents have identified their child’s individual learning style and needs, one of the most obvious and easy to use tools for identifying good schools is through their individual accreditations. Accreditation, or credential evaluation, ensures a basic level of quality in the education students receive from a school and parents should spend time researching the reputation of the accreditation institutions for their schools of choice to ensure they are widely recognized and will meet their personal expectations. Some, but not all accreditations cover both the academic excellence and best practices of schools. Parents may also want to find out whether or not the accreditation covers safety on campus.
Of course, another major factor that will contribute to your child’s happiness and success is the teacher. Parents may want to check if the school employs only qualified and trained teachers and whether or not the teachers are native or near native in the language that they teach in.
Location may be another factor to consider when choosing a school. Most families try to find the right balance of travelling time for each member of the family. In Thailand in general and Bangkok in particular, distance along does not always reflect travelling time. It is important to consider access to expressways or public transport and expected level of traffic congestion as well to come to a better understanding of how long it will take to get to school.
Learning support and Counseling
To many parents learning support is another area of interest. Does your child require learning support, and does the school offer it? If so, how many students with learning support needs does and can the school cater to? Does the support cover the specialty that you are looking for? Does the school have a counselor for the student’s well-being? Also is is wise to check if there is a university counselor who will help students in their applications to universities.
School and class size
The size of the school, as well as the class size may also be factors contributing to your child’s well-being at school. Some children prefer bigger schools; others feel more comfortable in a smaller environment. If the school is smaller does it offer adequate facilities? If the school is bigger, will your children receive the individual care they require?
Once all factors have been weighed, parents usually make a short-list of schools and visit each of them to see if the school lives up to what they say. You can usually get a good “feel” for a school during a visit, and after considering all factors, your child will be well on the way to a fantastic international education.