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Enrolling Children in Local Schools While Traveling

zh97

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  • Added on: May 4th, 2010
I am a parent of children in the process of planning extended RTW travel and I was wondering if anyone had enrolled their children in schools while they were traveling (ex. 3 months or so). Do you need to have proof of residency/visa? Are there tuition fees? My main purpose for the school would be for the language immersion and to give my kids time away from each other and an opportunity to meet other kids. In other words, I am not concerned about finding "top notch" schools as far as academics (but obviously safe schools). Also, other options I thought of would be signing up for a months worth of gymnastics or some other activity.

Any experiences would be greatly appreciated!

m&pg

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  • Added on: May 5th, 2010
I would also be interested to know more.
I did a bit of research a while ago and found that you can enrol kids for up to 12wks on an Australian tourist visa, there was a fee.
I need to find out more.

PDXnative

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  • Added on: May 11th, 2010
I know that if you get a residency in Spain, you must legally enroll your kids in school. Homeschooling is a grey area and could lead to arrest.

If you are visiting on a tourist visa, just contact the local schools where ever you are staying. They could probably work something out. It will be a learning experience for both your kids and the kids at the schools.
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WT

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  • Added on: May 27th, 2010
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seraphim

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  • Added on: May 28th, 2010
I have no idea if it's similar in other European countries, but here in Belgium, enrolling your children in school is a major pain in the ass. It has to be done almost a year in advance. In Antwerp (and Brussels, and maybe other cities), there are not nearly enough places in schools for the number of children there are. It used to be that parents had to camp in front of the school of the school they wanted to enroll their child in for a few days before enrolling started in order to be asured a spot (this is common all over Belgium - or at least Flanders and Brussels, no idea about Wallonia). This year they had a new system where you could pick 5 schools on the internet (to enroll children in the first year of primary - or preschool for the next school year), so it doesn't take as much time, but a lot of people will still have to bring their children to school outside of the city because there was no place for them.

So if you just arrive during the school year, I don't know what you're supposed to do. Find some village school that happens to have a free spot, I guess. You would get preferential treatment for some schools because you don't speak Dutch at home, but if you arrive during the school year, those places would already be long gone.

Secondary schools are less of a problem, I think, but still if you arrive when the school year has already started, it's going to be tough to find a spot. Some schools have special classes for children who've just arrived in Belgium and don't speak Dutch yet, that only focus on learning Dutch to begin with, but I think if you say you will only stay for 3 months and don't intent to stay, that could be frowned upon.
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WT

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  • Added on: May 29th, 2010
Yes, that is a good point seraphim! It really does make a difference where you are. Most schools come with lots of bureaucracy and government control, so one can't just walk in, usually, and leave one's kid. Although we did enroll our child the first day we arrived...but then went and did all the paper work. It was a very easy process for us, but it is not an over crowded school, nor were we asking to do it just for one month.

I think there are places in Spain that might also be more difficult if it is a school area where there are more kids than space available. This probably happens in many countries especially crowded urban areas. I think the schools here are happy to take kids because they get money for each child enrolled, so that type of govt policy might also impact enrollment. I think the US has a similar policy about getting paid for each child, or at least ours was like that in Ca. Northern Europe tends to be a lot more "tighter" with rules than southern Europe or some countries in south America, but I've also known some that had no problem with schools in France and Australia. Each school and country will vary and how they handle the bureaucracy. Often dealing with it in person is easier than on the phone or by mail.

It was very easy for us in Spain, but we are in a very small rural village. We did call ahead and talked to someone at the school many months before arriving the first time. I've known others who have not called ahead and just showed up without a problem, but the language immersion was very important to us , so we wanted that handled BEFORE we arrived.

My daughter has started in school in Spain late the last four years ( usually in Nov or Dec) and leaves very early in the spring as well without a problem. There are a handful of expats that come and go here so the school is use to odd arrangements and the community is a very welcoming and accepting one.

There are kids that come with absolutely none of the local language, but that is a hard adjustment for the child ( and school as most or all will not speak the mother tongue of the child)....especially the first month or two. In 6 months time of total immersion, a child with no language prior, will have adjusted and learned much of the basics. It's best to work on the language/s that you are interested in emerging in before coming and also keep it up after you leave. My daughter spends daily time on all 3 of her dominant languages because kids can lose languages if they are not used.

It is also quite easy, @zh97, to sign up and join in after class or summer or weekend type activities like gymnastics, horseback riding, ceramics, flamenco, handwork etc. We have done a lot of this. If you are going slow on your RTW trip, this is easy, if you have tons of places that you want to see in just a year, it will be much harder.

Good luck!
http://www.soultravelers3.com

I am always doing that
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WT

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  • Added on: February 18th, 2011
I just wanted to add another post to this topic because now we have experience with an all Chinese school in Asia that is working out really well for us.

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2011/01/only-american-girl-in-an-all-mandarin-school-chinese-immersion-in-language-culture-through-school.html

I will say that is was a LOT harder here because I suppose it is in an area where there are plenty of poor immigrants nearby who would love a good free school, so there is a lot more paper work and rules here. The school year also goes from Jan through Nov which is very different than what we are used to. We are tourists here. It would be easier if we worked here or if we bought a second home here ( then she would be eligible for any school).

Despite the challenges of finding the right school, it's been an amazing experience and we hope to return several winters to allow my child to become as fluent as a native in reading, writing and speaking Mandarin. It's been almost 2 months now and so far so great and meets our needs perfectly!
http://www.soultravelers3.com

I am always doing that
which I can not do,
in order that
I may learn how to do it.
PABLO PICASSO



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