Common myths about international schools and mainstream schools

International school students have a smaller homework workload than students who attend mainstream schools

This is not true. In the primary years, children in international schools spend a lot of time reading, acquiring vocabulary and instinctively learning authentic grammatical structures. The reason for the myth is that these students do not spend hours doing worksheets. Many parents or students do not see reading as homework but in fact it is a far more productive way to spend time.

In secondary education, the workload in international school is actually heavier than that in mainstream schools, especially in schools which follow the IB syllabus. Students have to organize themselves and motivate themselves to complete detailed projects. This requires skills in synthesizing information and presenting it in different formats. By comparison, in mainstream schools, much of the hoemwork is completing workbook exercises which require less thinking

There are many children who make the switch from a mainstream school to a local school only to get a shock when they find out that the workload can actually be heavier. 


International school students are under less pressure than mainstream school students

Again this is not true. Students in international schools are assessed on an ongoing basis to monitor learning. In the primary and early secondary years, students attending international schools are not given formal exam/assessment schedules. They need to be prepared at all times. The difference in mainstream schools is that children are told in advance, meaning they can revise or 'cram' for exams, often requiring the memorization of answers.

Students cannot switch between systems

There is some truth in this, in that students may have a hard time adapting to changes. However, if it becomes clear that a child is struggling in the system, it may be worth considering a change. For example, a creative child may feel very discouraged and perform badly in a mainstream school but thrive in an international school. The most important thing is not to take the decision lightly because changing backwards and forwards is likely to have a detrimental effect on the child.


International schools have no discipline

This is not true. Although some international schools may take a more relaxed approach to self-expression by allowing senior students to wear make-up, they require students to be very disciplined in terms of self-organization and self-motivation for study. Most schools also have very strict school codes and take a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and bad behaviour. 


Attending an international preschool guarantees entry to an international primary school

On the contrary, many children who attend international preschools are not able to demonstrate sufficient proficiency in English to achieve a place in an international primary school. Also many preschools claim to be 'international' simply because they offer bilingual classes but many of them use the traditional approach to learning.


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