For a young college graduate, finding a teaching job overseas isn’t pie in the sky dreaming. In fact, the low cost of living in many regions means that your child can actually earn a good income while getting paid to travel and to teach. However, there is a learning curve to making this experience a success.
Require Some Proof
If your child is prone to starting things and not finishing them, make sure that they are working steadily toward this goal. For example, are they working on a bachelor’s degree? If not, they need to start. A bachelor’s plus a TEFL certification is a basic requirement for most credible teaching programs.
For many young students and parents, money is a big concern. A student interested in teaching English overseas may be able to find work as an online English tutor or working part-time in a daycare. If it turns out that working with children and young people isn’t for them, they may do better to find out now than after their schooling is over.
Help Pay for Training
As a parent, the idea of sending your child overseas to work could be quite frightening. Be ready to step up and offer to pay for at least part of that training to make sure that the school is legitimate and that they will be involved with your child as they look for work. As a partial funder of this process, you will also be able to veto training that doesn’t pass your credibility test. Also, online resources will help get a better idea of the requirements of the field.
Teach Your Child to Budget
If your child has never lived alone, they will need to be able to budget well enough to manage a household when they get overseas. For families that can all live under the same roof while working on a bachelor’s degree, be ready to let your child see how you budget for the household.
Allow them to pick up groceries, stay on top of laundry, and keep the dishwasher emptied. Even if their housing is provided with their teaching job, they will need to be able to manage some chores and their income. They will be facing enough new experiences without risking running out of money halfway through the month.
Set Up an Emergency Saving Goal
Once your child has an idea of where they want to teach, discuss an emergency savings goal. Find out the price of a return ticket and start there. While flights can be covered in some teaching contracts, knowing that your child can get home without relying on an employer can give both of you peace of mind.
That first emergency savings goal should be fairly easy to meet. Find out what it would cost to rent an apartment in their target location and add that to the goal. Finally, agree on a basic amount of money that your child will need to cover – phone, internet, food, heating and air conditioning, as an example. Other fees, such as a train ticket to get to the city where the international airport is, may be added as well.
Functionally, if everything goes well, this will just be safety savings. However, if things go badly wrong for your child, they can get an apartment, pay bills and regroup for a month. If they choose to come home, they can easily do that as well.
Your child will need at least one good suitcase with sturdy wheels. Small wheels work on sidewalks, but may not survive cobbles. A large backpack that can be compressed small is another good investment. Finally, make sure they have a quality laptop, a fairly new cellphone, and an international data plan.
A computer backpack with protection against chatter and static will save a lot of worry and hassle, as will an international multi-prong plug. Finally, invest in a small solar panel and a portable battery that they can use to keep their phone charged up.
If your child has chronic medical conditions that require regular medications, encourage them to look for a teaching job in Spain, Taiwan or South Korea. Access to top of the line medical care will be easier to find in one of these countries.
Carefully check the national regulations on medications; your child may be able to pack a year’s worth of asthma medication in a checked bag, while you may not be able to ship them. Be sure to include their standard vitamins, clearly marked, and a simple painkiller and fever reducer for simple infections or a basic headache. Leave everything in the original packaging!
Not everything will be available in their new country. Hair dye choices may be different or non-existent. Cultural rejection of some cosmetic choices may mean that your child needs to dye their hair back; consider encouraging them to go as natural as possible until they are settled. Tattoo artists may be plentiful, but may not have to meet hygiene certification requirements.
Consider making a deal with your child. If they really want something permanent, such as a tattoo, offer to pay for it upon their return. This is not to say that they can’t get a perfectly safe and lovely tattoo in Thailand, but if you are concerned about infections or dye toxins, paying for the artwork at a local tattoo shop may be worth your worry.
Make sure your child carries at least a month’s supply of their favorite toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, deodorant and lotion. Women should carry two months of their favorite feminine hygiene products. The key to a positive international trip is not dealing with surprises before you know where your grocery store is located.
Sending your child off into the great unknown may be frightening. However, with the support of a reputable training organization, your child will have support from their first class through their first teaching job and beyond. Do read the fine print and make sure your child has a way to get home easily if things don’t work out. Final tip: Get an international credit card that won’t charge a fee for each transaction until your child can set up a bank account in their host country.