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Teaching abroad as a single parent of two - any advice or experience welcome!

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by mpierre7, Feb 20, 2017.

  1. mpierre7

    mpierre7 New commenter


    I am thinking about moving abroad (Dubai is at the top of my list at the moment) however, I have two young children ages 5 and 2. I just wanted to get an idea of people's experiences and what to expect from family life abroad. If there are any single parents who have made the move, how did the school transition work for your children? Do they offer childcare facilities for younger children ( I would like to go when my youngest is three) and what were your personal experiences like as a single parent?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. cocolocokampar

    cocolocokampar New commenter


    I lived and worked in various countries over the past 18 years. We moved to Saudi when I was still married and my kids were very young. After I divorced (7 years ago), I moved with my children to Malaysia after a year or so back in the UK. It is so much easier to be a single parent overseas than back home. No money worries, kids at the same school as I work in, good weather, lots to do. Get a live-in maid, it will make all the difference and they are very easy to come by in Dubai, if that's where you end up going. I don't have anyone live in with us now as my kids are a bit older, but I did when they were young and it was great.

    Transition to school will be a breeze as your kids are still very young. My daughter (nearly 12) is now getting to the age when she is more reluctant to move on and leave her friends. I guess childcare for a 3 year old will vary from school to school. My current school has a creche for the kids of staff and I am sure a lot of other places will have too.

    Don't rule out Saudi Arabia as compound life is extremely family friendly and safe. The same goes for Brunei.

    Good luck!
    mpierre7 and tk212 like this.
  3. tk212

    tk212 New commenter

    This is really encouraging to hear as I am applying to go back abroad.
    Has anyone ever grown a family whilst abroad? Does maternity even exist? Or is it better to have a complete family before moving. I have always wondered this and never thought to ask.
    I suppose it is contract work; but say I wanted to relocate to Asia, had another child but didn't want to uproot my family to come back... what would you do? Would schools internationally support this or would you be relying on partners income .....and then there is the cost. I wonder how this works.
  4. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    I did 7 years abroad with two sprogs on my own. They loved it and now have world experience which has proved invaluable to both. Did 5 years in Qatar, not a problem.
  5. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    my sister had 3 children internationally, all covered by private medical insurance. her husband also got some paternity leave, although not a huge amount.

    maternity cover is very common in decent schools, although my previous school massively reduced its maternity provision as we had 5 births in one year and it cost them nearly $1 million to cover everything.

    international work is contract work, usually a minimum of 2 years for your initial one, with a rolling renewal after that. it is very expensive to employ and recruit staff internationally. any decent school will do their best to retain you, if you are any good.

    one word of warning though, you already have 2 children, for many schools this will be the maximum they will cover for schooling. you also become a VERY expensive hire as a single. as they have to provide you with more flights, medical insurance and accommodation etc. my sister gave up looking for international jobs in the end because she had 3 children, because she found it really difficult to find a school willing to take on 3 teachers children, and she was in a teaching couple. although i do know of some schools that will do this.
  6. mpierre7

    mpierre7 New commenter

    Thank you, this is very helpful. I was a bit weary about moving but you have made me feel more comfortable, would you mind if I message you in the future with any questions?

    Yes, the only issue that I had was childcare for my youngest, I understand that most schools will supplement or pay completely for your children to attend their school but I was unsure about children who are younger.

    People have firmly deterred me from Saudi Arabia, did you have any negative interactions while there?

    Thanks again so much for your response!!
  7. mpierre7

    mpierre7 New commenter

    Hiya, how old were your children when you moved? Did you have any negative interactions or regrets about moving?

    I've heard Qatar is a lovely country, were you living close to the school?
  8. karel

    karel Occasional commenter

    Being overseas with children is wonderful and a great experience for them. For a single teacher there are some extra things to consider though, and It would be really important to find out what provisions a school has beforehand, because it will vary between schools. At my current school there are a few single parents with children and many couple with children. It becomes easier when they become school age of course. In some ways it's no different to having both parents working at the school. At my school there is nothing arranged for younger children. Those with small kids enroll them in one of the local kindergartens or have a nanny during the day. This cost is up to the teacher to pay and to arrange. When the children are school age it's becomes easier but you need to check out if elementary school building is on the same campus as where you will be working and if the starting and finishing times match up. I worked in a school once where there was a 15 min different between the start of the school day in terms of when I had to be at school. I wasn't supposed to drop my daughter off until later but her teacher made it possible for me to for that, otherwise it would have been tricky. The end of the day was also problematic at times. This particular school was not very helpful and it was difficult for the teachers with younger kids even when they were old enough to attend the school. My current school is much better. The elementary school is attached to middle/high school by a covered bridge and the younger kids are allowed to walk up by themselves to the classrooms of their parents. If there is a meeting or the parent is staying behind later the kids are allowed to hang out in the classroom. I'm talking about children who are from say age 6 and upwards. We have many teachers children at my school and that hang out together, there are groups of similar ages. My daughter is in grade 6 and there are 4 other teachers kids in that same grade. Between the ages of 8 and 14 there are around 15 teachers kids. On professional development days and orientation days at the beginning of the year the school arranges 'baby sitting' for the kids. This involves them being in school and a couple of interns are watching them and running activities for them. It's very nice because the teachers kids do feel a bit special, they do have a special place in the school and get to know a lot more about the school than their friends do. Normally middle school kids don't come up to high school where I teach, but my daughter comes up to my room often and many of the high school kids no her, that makes her feel a bit special. It can be difficult if the child is ill. This is when you miss having a family support network around you. In my school taking a day off for a sick child counts as one of my sick days. But even if you were there with 2 parents, one of you would still have to take time off. In summary it's important to find out as many practical details as you can to try and get an idea of logistically it would work, I have always done this during the process of speaking to a school prior to being offered or accepting a job. And bear in mind that it's really not that different logistically than if both parents work at the school, or one works at the school and the other works full time elsewhere. Everyone will tell you how amazing the experience is for kids, but being a parent with a non-teaching spouse who worked full time outside the school at one point, I had full responsibility for taking and collecting our daughter from school and juggling all of that with my job, it was at times stressful. It's gets easier as they get older and become more independent. So don't be afraid to ask about the small practical details. Good luck in your search!
    mpierre7 and She_Skates like this.
  9. mpierre7

    mpierre7 New commenter

    Yes, most of the schools that I've seen seem to have 2 children as a maximum.

    Thank you so so much for taking the time to reply to me, I didn't even think about the logistics of the children being on different campuses; I suppose that is something that I could discuss with the school during the interview process.

    I know that the children would really enjoy living and experiencing a new way of living and a new culture; I believe that they would really embrace it.

    I will look into creches and nurseries - and see what the search returns.

    Thanks again so much for sharing your experiences with me - It has really made me think! Have a great week!
  10. craponjag

    craponjag New commenter

  11. craponjag

    craponjag New commenter

    This is most helpful, everyone. I'm considering a move around 2019 with my partner and kids 2 and 3. it seems the school you teach out will normally sort out education/nursery for them as part of the contract? Do you ever have to pay for your children's education/nursery. if so, is it expensive?
  12. ejclibrarian

    ejclibrarian Established commenter Community helper

    At my school if your children are old enough to attend school you will get two free places. If they are under 3 you have to find a nursery yourself for them. The school does not assist with this.
  13. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    Lots of good advice on here as well as encouragement, and while the rule of thumb can be 2 kids free, it is far from certain! Many schools will have their own rules and limits, so check the contract and ask lots of questions!
  14. Forgivn

    Forgivn New commenter

    Good day... i am from south Africa... i just wanted to know do you know which countries would accept a single parent with a kid
  15. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    It would be easier to name a country that wouldnt
  16. truth_seeker12

    truth_seeker12 Occasional commenter

    The good schools would offer free schooling. If they dont, it is around $1000 per month in the ME for a decent school
  17. IndigoViolence

    IndigoViolence New commenter

    If you’re heading to the ME make sure you have all your papers in order- the father must give permission for you & the children (even if divorced) and in some Gulf states, women must be under their husband’s visa.

    2 Sch places aren’t a given at all.
  18. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    Many schools have full time schooling for children from 3 and so your youngest would be covered
  19. GeordieKC

    GeordieKC Occasional commenter

    It is very doable, but do NOT make assumptions or rely on information on a forum like this, regarding terms and conditions. They vary between countries and schools so check for points like:
    • What housing allowance would I get - you may only get a basic single persons housing allowance, which may need supplementing.
    • Are there any rules regarding recognising the children as your dependents
    • Are flights paid for the children
    • What school fees are payable - even where a free school place is provided, there are likely to mandatory "extras" such as lunch and trip fees.
    To the poster asking about Maternity, schools have to offer at least what is legally required in their country and often offer more, but rules and conditions vary - particularly if you do not pay local social security maternity pay may be quite limited. It is rare for pregnancy costs to be covered on school health insurance. Generally the child is covered as a dependent from birth, but there are schools that will only add a dependent when a contract is renewed.
    BlueHues likes this.

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