The Pleasures vs. the Pitfalls of raising and Teaching children in your own international school

I have so often heard the comments, “I could never take my children overseas; I couldn’t do that to them,” or “ my partner/spouse and I want to start a family so we are leaving the international school to return ‘home’”.  Well, all I can say is, ‘what a pity!’  What a pity for these families, who, perhaps do not realize the many advantages of living overseas and raising their children as Third Culture Kids within the school family, and ...what a pity for our international schools, when we cannot access or acquire the skills of many of these quality educators.

Therefore, my motivation to research this particular family paradigm was both altruistic and selfish.  Altruistic, because I wanted others to enjoy much of the pleasure I observed among staff who had their children in their school and my own personal experience having my children here, too. I have observed the wonderful family atmosphere at schools which have many staff children on roll. Selfish, because, as a school Director, I wanted to grow the pool of skilled and professional candidates for my schools.

Being a pioneer in this field of research, I was able to coin my own moniker for these children of educators who are studying in the same school – EdKids. (how exciting!)

So, I would love to expand on the themes from my research (see blog 4) one at a time.  I would love to hear from you on each category. Let me hear how you view these observations and commentaries.  Have you had similar experiences? Different experiences? What would you recommend can be done to improve the positives?

Theme 1:  The practical and economic benefits

The practical benefits of family members working and studying in the same school include the seemingly obvious fact that parents and children have the same weekly and yearly timetable, calendar, and holidays. Educator families have similar holidays, similar community events, and common relationships. The daily morning schedule, breakfast, family commute to and from work/school make daily life do-able.   As one educator said, ‘it simplifies life’.

The advantage of free tuition for dependents was a great benefit. Since many believe that the quality of private and independent school education is higher than in public schools, sending one’s child to a private school would not be a financially viable option ‘back home’.  The economic advantages are numerous, as well.  While salaries are all over the spectrum from low to high, educators quickly learn that it is NOT the salary which is ultimately the important variable.  Rather it is the potential for disposable income or savings.  Since many schools also offer travel, health, housing, utilities, professional development allowances,  much of the salary can be relegated to savings each month – or exciting travel or purchase opportunities. 

Add to that, a double income of a teaching couple, plus the income tax exclusions (for U.S. citizens).  The final equation is that educators may be able to live a more financially dignified lifestyle overseas than back home.  And, with financial stability, comes a certain level of calm, or, at least lessening of anxiety.  You can imagine how this plays into the equation of raising your children.

Love to hear your thoughts!  Ettie

Let me know how I  can support your students, parents, staff and Board



Zilber, E. (2005). International school Educators and their Children.  JRIE., vol. 4 (1), 5-11.

Zilber, E. (2009).  Third Culture Kids: Children of International School Educators, John Catt., Ltd.

Kids: Children of International School Educators, John Catt., Ltd.

Taking your children on your international school journey has many BENEFITS for all members of the family!

For those of you who are already experienced international school educators, you probably have mental lists of your observations.  Maybe your observations focus on your own children, and maybe they focus on the children of your colleagues and friends inside your schools.

For those readers who might be wondering, might be concerned, might be titillated, might be afraid or might be dreaming of such a family venture … keep reading.  I think all of you will enjoy the results of some research.

A number of years ago, I was in a premier position to receive numerous narratives from educators about the advantages of raising children inside the international school where the parent/s work.  Conducting presentations at various international school conferences, such as ECIS, TRI-Association, Earcos, MAIS and AAIE, I had captive audiences, who were more than happy to share their observations, opinions and perspectives. I also presented to my own staff members in schools in China, Spain, Guatemala and the USA, thus, gleaning additional data.

Mind you, I did not only survey educators who had THEIR OWN kids in the school.  Many of the respondents did not have their own children in the school; rather, they were responding to their experiences working with the children of their colleagues, who are the parents/colleagues of their own students.   If this sounds circuitous – it is!! This is one of the characteristics of this paradigm – it is complicated!!  But, nevertheless, there are huge benefits to all members of the family, when children are enrolled in the school in which their parents are employed.

I was able to divide the narrative responses into 6 themes:

(a) practical benefits,

(b) social integration,

(c) facility of communication and contact,

(d) awareness, familiarity, and understanding of school and students,

(e) strong family bonds and inter-relatedness, and

(f) educators as parent role models.

Well, now that you have the 6-point infrastructure, I would love to hear your observations that correspond to these categories.  Let loose and tell your personal or professional stories.  Perhaps you have an observation that does not fit ‘neatly’ into one of the 6 above.  I would love to hear about it.

Stay tuned to hear more in the next blog post.  I hope I can use some of your narratives to embellish the benefits of this extraordinary family odyssey.

Ciao!  Ettie

Raising your own children in the international school in which you work – What’s so great about it?

Well, as I promised, we are going to delve into the nitty-gritty of the research outcomes. What are the great advantages, or benefits, of having your kids with you at school?  When I asked this question at dozens of workshops, seminars, lectures, research surveys or Graduate courses, – both with my own staff or with those coming to participate from innumerable international schools – I heard so many positive and grateful reflections. Their comments made for very long list.

“EdKids” in the international school community: Who cares?

For your holiday reading pleasure…

How cool to be the author of a new moniker, describing a unique group in our international school community – “EdKids.” An “EdKid” is a child of an educator who works in the same school as their child attends. While there are similarities with kids who are educated in their parents’ schools ‘back home,’ there are many paradigms which are unique to families which are ‘overseas.’