There are a number of schools in the UK which follow the American curriculum. My son will be starting school this year. We plan on moving back to the US in the next 5 years. Is there any evidence that having an American curriculum for his first few years of schooling would make his transition into the US education system easier?
The best options we've encountered are truly international schools, where the local emphasis in curriculum is lessened. You can find Americanized schools in various countries, but that's not always going to be possible.
International schools tend to focus on world history and International English, instead of mostly local history and local language (which isn't always English) with a bit of world mixed in. In this case, it then becomes your job to teach American history, as needed, until you repatriate.
In The Philippines, Philippine history and language are core curriculum requirements set out by the department of education for non-international schools. My daughter's classes are all in English, but Filipino (Tagalog) is a required subject, and history focuses on Philippine history. That's exactly what they should be doing here, we're the oddballs.
International schools won't have Filipino as a requirement, and will teach world history, leaving the parents to fill in gaps from their country's history books as needed (or a private tutor if you feel that you'd make a horrible history teacher).
There's also a question of religious education depending on the country. Most private schools here are Catholic, with the Montessori schools leaning more to the secular side, and international schools making it completely optional. Here's the breakdown of how that would work:
- Catholic school: My daughter learns how to get her first communion, bible study
- Secular school: Either Catholic / General Christian things, or general 'Character education' where she's taught about religions, how one should behave in a church, and general 'do the right thing' stuff - but it's up to us which she takes.
- International school: Up to us what, if any religious / character education she receives
That's easily changed around wherever you might be, where most private schools might be of a different religious flavor.
In my experience, going the International route is generally best, and something we're considering (though Montessori style education is an amazing way to learn).
Yet, if you plan to repatriate in two years - the Americanized school might be the better solution. My perspective is from a longer term, we don't plan to return for at least another five or six years, so it's much better for us to fill in gaps in the international curriculum.
The answer to this question depends a lot on the remaining time of your children's school career. If this is one time expat experience for a short time (max 2 years) going to an American school might have benefits.
On the other hand you might alienate him/her from both countries. A school is not only a curriculum, it is a lot more then that. You also learn social skills and develop friendships. By sending you children to a local school they get to learn the british social skills, while learning the american social skills at home.
Personally I would send my children to an international school if I would relocate a lot. If not I would choose for a local education. When going back to the US your children will have to adapt anyway and expats are generally speaking masters in adapting since it is their way of life.
I recall that when I went back to my home country I didn't have any trouble getting accustomed to the new school curriculum. If you choose the proper school back in the US, your children might have that special itch, because they can tell about their school on the other side of the pond.
The biggest problem I had was that I didn't share the same "TV" history as my fellow class mates. Nobody had seen Thundercats and I missed out a lot on a bunch of local tv shows.
The American education system is fragmented and divided, and probably only works as well as it does by preserving each teacher's right and responsibility to develop their own curriculum.
Of course, one would expect more American and less British history to be taught in such a school, but it sounds like your son is too young to study that anyway.
As with any sort of educational institution, the only way to know is to contact them and get specifics. The schools are probably too different from each other to generalize. If a particular private school cannot easily answer your questions, it is probably not worth pursuing. Also, the international calling rates should be very cheap. Check with your cell phone provider, but you might just dial and chat, no worries.
Worst comes to worst, you can probably enroll during the term, if some problem comes up. That information might be more important than details of the curriculum. But, it sounds like a long shot.