While there are many reasons that living in Beijing benefits my family overall, the one that consistently tops the list is my children’s education at an international school. I think parents here would likely agree, no matter which school they attend. Aside from the occasional complaint which is going to occur almost anywhere, the overall consensus is that kids who take advantage of the educational opportunities here, work hard, and do well have big advantages in university choices and general life direction.
My kids are typical and will protest about too much homework or some injustice they feel about school. But the choices they have! There is art and music and physical education on a regular basis. They get Chinese language and culture exposure every day. The teachers and curriculum in the core subjects are top notch. Outside of school, they can give sports or drama a try, excel in music and other interests, and learn what it’s like to give back with many philanthropic opportunities. And the people they befriend from all over the globe let them experience first-hand that the world is a giant wonder to explore.
I love that. My husband loves that his job provides them this opportunity. We get to watch in awe as the girls soak up what they do during our time here – so different from when and where we went to school. They might not grasp the significance of it all right now, but they got a hint of it the other morning during breakfast conversation.
A friend who moved back to the U.S. this summer shared that her children’s schools were not up to par with international schools. No music classes are offered in the middle school. There are no ASAs, although some sports team tryouts are held for a few sports only. The school was pleased to show them their “computer” in the library; no one-to-one laptops or required computer homework here. One of their friends in another state was disappointed to find that her public school had no P.E. class. She is a particularly athletic child and misses the wide variety of sports she was able to explore here in Beijing. And student-teacher ratios? It’s not uncommon to have 30 kids in a class with one teacher.
Public schools in other countries have various issues to contend with, and funding that is cut ultimately hurts our children. Private schools are out of reach for too many, and acceptable solutions in the public sector are taking too long to find.
I told my girls about these examples, and they quietly assessed how things might be different if they went to a public school back home. They often take for granted the tremendous blessing their school is for their futures, just as I often do knowing that we would never be able to afford such a private school back home. But they also just as quickly realize – and I can see on their faces – that their school is pretty great.
Too much homework? Sure, sometimes. Not enough activities? Doubtful. An opportunity we should be grateful for as we watch our children grow and study here? Absolutely!
Photo by doigstar1 of flickr.