Strategies for Supplementing National Schools

Suggestions from parents working abroad

Compiled by: Delana S

1. Stick to the Basics.

When supplementing your child’s national school education, it is important to stick to the basics.  Many families consider this to be English (reading, writing, and grammar) and Mathematics (if a supplement is needed).  For older students, it will also be necessary to supplement US History.  Don’t worry so much about US History and Geography.  If they start in the 7th grade, it will get repeated enough throughout jr. high, high school, and college that they will get it down.  Don’t expect them to do well on the Social Studies portion of an American assessment test—and don’t let it bother you.

2.  Hire a local tutor for homework.

Some suggest that hiring a tutor to assist your child with her homework will help accomplish the homework in a less frustrating fashion.  (Sometimes math concepts may not be explained in a way that your child can understand.  Hearing an explanation again in English may help them grasp it.  As well as offering perhaps a different way of solving a problem.)

3.  Designate a time for the course or courses you will supplement.

It is suggested that lunch break, just before dinner, or close to bedtime be chosen (depending on the subject).  Reading to your child and having them read to you is a great bedtime ritual.  Sonlight history readers and read-alouds make interesting bedtime stories.  Allow your child to take turns reading parts to you (to help with pronunciation).  Some families recommend focusing on the supplements during Christmas, spring, and summer breaks, so as not to overly stress the student during an already long school day.

4.  Teach your child to read in one language at a time.

Though children can learn to understand and speak in multiple languages simultaneously, it has been discovered that troubles abound if a child is trying to learn more than one written code at a time.  If your 4-6 year old already has the ability to read well in English, then starting him into a local school should not be a problem.  If your child has been in a local preschool that is teaching her to recognize the local alphabet and begin to read, then it is better to not teach her how to read in English until she is reading well in the local language.  In this case, wait a while before teaching reading. It is very easy for a preschool or Kindergarten child who is being expected to learn two alphabets or “written codes” at the same time, to become very confused.  Down the road, this child may face troubles in speech, reading, writing, spelling, and attentiveness.  Many educators recommend that a child learn to read in his heart language first.

5.  Read to your child daily and let her see you reading for your own enjoyment as well.

Even if you can’t supplement in any other way during the course of the school year, read to your child.

6. Have plenty of age-appropriate reading materials on hand for them to read.

7.  Recommended curriculum for supplementing.

Spelling Power, Explode the Code, Wordly-Wise, Winston Grammar, Sonlight readers, Easy Grammar, Daily Grams, Keys to Good Language, Alphaphonics, Wordsmith Apprentice

See Also:

Challenges Expats Face When Choosing and Using National Schools

Supplementing…A Reversal

Reasons for Considering National Schools

Learning to Read in Your Native Language First