Parent stories: Curitiba
Nuria moved with her husband from Spain to the USA where her son was born, and then on to Curitiba in Brazil when he was three years old. She talks to us about her experiences…
Nuria, thank you for talking to Winters. Would you give us a bit of background about your family?
We are from Spain originally. We were living in the USA when my son was born, and he started a pre-school there when he was just one. We moved to Brazil when he was three. For the first two years he attended a local school, which we chose so that we could interact with locals and get to know the culture. For the last five years he has been at an international school. He is now ten.
How did you go about choosing the international school? What were you looking for?
We cared about four topics most of all:
- We wanted our son to speak good English fluently (he was starting to lose it after two years at a Brazilian school).
- We were looking for a school that followed a Northern Schedule, with the school year starting in September and finishing in July. In Brazil the school year runs from February to December.
- It was important for us that his education would challenge and stimulate him and encourage an independent, open mind. That was something we felt the international school would do better than his Brazilian school.
- We wanted a school that offered the IB program.
Were any other criteria important to you?
The other key things I was concerned about were security, academic continuity, the mix of children and how close it was to home. Other parents’ recommendations were also very important.
Secondary considerations were the languages taught, class size, facilities, and the culture and ethos of the school.
Were there many to choose from and how did you narrow your choice down?
There was only one international school so it was an easy job!
"It was important for us that his education would challenge and stimulate him and encourage an independent, open mind."
Was it easy to find the information you wanted? What were the best sources?
After living in town for two years I already had some friends with children at the school, and I regularly visited it to buy things at the Book Fairs, etc. The website was not so good, but it did not matter to me. They are improving their website now!
Did you do a school visit and was it helpful?
We did visit the school, and we had very good access to all we wanted to see. Some Brazilian schools can be a bit closed to new parents so I was very pleased to be able to see so much.
We got a lot of information from our visit but we later discovered that some of what we were told was maybe slightly exaggerated. For example, they told us about many after-school activities, but actually children can only do one of them. But of course it’s easy for a little miscommunication when you’re doing these things, and that’s all you need to bear in mind.
What was the application process like once you'd made your choice? Anything parents need to be aware of?
If you’re joining at secondary level, you will need to show your child’s grades and information about the curriculum at previous schools.
How well has the school worked out for you and your son?
As with every school there are some things to improve, but overall it is a very good school! And getting better! We’re pleased with it.
Finally, do you have any other tips for how parents can help their children cope with moving country and school?
We used books and films to help our son with the moves. I’d recommend that you talk to your children, let them express their feelings and try to stay in touch with, and visit, their old friends once in a while. We’ve kept up contact with our children's friends. Moving can be a win-win situation for them. They already have their old friends, now they will have new ones too!
The top image shows the Wire Opera House, Curitiba. Photograph: Adelano Lázaro/Wikimedia