Discussions and Articles

Building Your Child's Education Portfolio

Edcuational Planning Seminars

Children with Special Education Needs

Transition Helps


Building Your Child’s Education Portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of your child’s school work, test scores, and school calendars. It is very important for you to create a portfolio for each child, even if he/she is not homeschooled. If school records are lost, if a school closes, if you are forced to evacuate a country, or if you are relocated it will be critical to keep the information listed below.

Your child’s portfolio will be used for multiple purposes including: assessment for grade placement in a US school, college application, work application to show experience, etc. When you return to the US and the public school system assesses your child, a portfolio will give them a complete picture of your child’s strengths and weaknesses.

Why do I need an education portfolio for my child?

  • Current trends in US education
    • complete, accurate assessment
    • demonstrating an understanding of content
    • showing multiple areas of strength/intelligence
  • Provides a true picture of child’s overall performance
    • shows more than percentages and test scores
    • shows an overall picture
    • shows child’s unique personality beyond academics
  • Provides growth comparison
    • evaluation tools: Where am I? Where have I been?
    • builds self-worth and confidence/promotes personal growth
    • highlights personal strengths
  • TCK implications
    • records child’s work/builds and preserves memories
    • assists home schooling parents with planning
    • bridges the gap for national schooling families

How can I use my child’s portfolio?

  • During furlough
    • assists in school placement of children
    • helps school understand child’s educational background
  • During reentry
    • college admission
    • placement—helps college advisors and guidance personnel
  • In applying for jobs
    • demonstrates skills and experiences
    • some professions require it

How do I start building my child’s portfolio?

Start by keeping general information about each school your child attends. This information should be kept in a safe place with other important documents like passports and birth certificates. We also recommend you save this information electronically and give a backup copy to a family member in the US.

  • Name of school
  • Address
  • Phone and/or website contact
  • Dates your child attended that school

Items to keep in your child’s portfolio:

  • Official yearly transcripts and report cards
(Copies should also be stored with other important family documents.)
  • Samples of your child’s work from each year of school

Here’s an example of items you could keep in the portfolio:

  • 4-5 samples of math worksheets
  • 4-5 writing samples from English and/or other language classes
  • Photo or documentation of science fair projects
  • Samples of projects or writing samples from history, government, civic classes
  • Examples of extra-curricular activities (i.e. awards, photos, etc.)
  • Samples of artwork or creative projects

It is not necessary to keep large quantities of each child’s work. You should keep a sampling each year that shows the child’s growth and progress and the classes and activities in which he/she was involved. Be sure to make a plan about how you will store each child’s portfolio and transport that content when you travel to and from the US or other countries.

Educational Planning Seminars

There are a number of organizations that provide educational planning seminars to help you understand your child’s special learning style and needs and help you determine the best direction for your child’s education. Costs for some seminars may be (00) approved expenses. Check with your Area or Regional Fellowship for details about what is approved.

Interaction International:
Interaction International hosts two Prefield Educational Planning Seminars annually. They are designed to help parents make decisions about their child’s education overseas. This seminar is open to missionaries from any denomination. Seminars address issues like: What educational option is best for our children? How can we use the national schools successfully? How can we develop a workable educational plan for our family that fits our goals, values and ministry? How do we get started in homeschooling? How do we choose a curriculum? How can we prepare our children for the transitions they will make in leaving this culture and entering a new one?

SHARE offers conferences throughout the year and throughout their target region. Conference details are available on their website. At SHARE conferences, you will find information about educating children in a cross-cultural context. These are offered through workshops, resources, and private consultations with educators. In addition, SHARE provides educational assessments for children using achievement or diagnostic testing and by gathering qualitative information from parents and teachers. When possible, they provide a program for children while parents are in workshops.

AERC was created to provide critically needed educational services and support to worker families in Asia, particularly to those who are using nontraditional educational methods such as homeschooling, national schools, or online schooling to educate their children. AERC provides family education conferences in Chiang Mai, Thailand and various other Asian cities. Conferences include workshops, personal consultations, testing services, and resource centers. More information is available at their website.

Children with Special Needs

The TCKI Office has access to resources and education specialists for your family, including if you have a child diagnosed with special needs. We can connect missionaries to resources for diagnostic testing if your child is having difficulties and you are concerned he/she may have special needs. We can also connect you to resources to help you with continuing evaluation of your child’s needs.

The Fellowship s has families living all over the world whose children have special educational needs. We want you to know that you and your special needs child can succeed. We are here to help provide support, resources, and direction for you and your family.

Some of the organizations listed in this resource provide testing, training, and resources to help families living overseas with children who have special needs.

SHARE Education Services

Laurel Springs School

Please feel free to call the TCK Office if you have questions about a child with special needs.

Transition Helps

The Educational Transitional Experience
Revised from an article by Dr. Brenda Dickey

transiation modelThe success of the educational transitional experience for your child depends on family support and each child’s developmental stage. The stages of transition are described in Dave Pollock’s book, Third Culture Kids. TCKs will go through these stages as they face any type of life transition: engagement, leaving, transition, entering, and re-engagement. These phases are impacted by the stage of development of the child at the time of the transition. (See Transition Model to left.)

Leaving: Parents need to discuss openly their own feelings of sadness with their children about leaving a place that is comfortable and “known.” You should also discuss how your close family/friend relationships will change during and after the transition.

Transition and Entering: Parents should help children focus on making new friendships as quickly as possible. This can be done by intentionally planning a time for children and youth to play games with others and their families or planning an outing together. It is worth the time and cost involved to let children say goodbye to known relationships and take time to develop new ones.

Re-engagement: Settle in a routine of school, church, and community. Extracurricular activities are good for this time (swimming teams, ball teams, art and music, etc). This is especially important during middle and high school adolescent development years.

Providing daily family routines and time with supportive relationships can encourage smoother transitions. Parents can use literature to help the transition by reading to their children about other kids who have experienced new transitions. These things can help ease the difficulty of transitions for children and provide opportunity for discussions.

Some helpful literature is provided in the great resource book, The New Kid in School by Debra Rader and Linda Harris Sittig. It provides insight for teachers and parents to use in educational transitions.

Here are several other titles suggested by Interact magazine.

There are also a couple of myths families need to address during transition.

Myth #1 - Children will be impacted negatively by transitions; therefore, we need to avoid all transitional experiences.

No! Transitions are a part of life. Those who learn to navigate well during each transition re-engage quickly toward positive life experiences.

Myth # 2 - Children are so resilient that they will find a way to bounce back during all transitions without parental or others intentionally planning for positive engagement experiences.

No! Resiliency skills are taught by intentional planning, supportive modeling of friendship building, and coaching by parents and/or others who are significant to the child in the environment.

The goal is for children to move as quickly as possible from the leaving stage to the re-engagement stage of transition in order to minimize any negative impact on behavior.

TCK Educational Transitional Years
Revised from an article by Dr. Brenda Dickey

Preparing TCKs for educational transitions is an important part of the educational process when considering moving, especially around the world. It will help you child’s transition if you have a long range educational plan in place (see Making an Educational Plan, pg. 6).

You want your child to have a positive and successful school experience. The information below is intended to assist you in preparing your child when planning an educational transition experience. The information is broken into developmental stages with information about what a child is normally learning during that education stage and how to help your child if you are transitioning overseas or back to the US during one of these stages.

Early Elementary Years (Kindergarten through 5th grade): These years are packed with learning to read, write, and establish math conceptualization for later learning success. During this time, developing a strong reading base in the student’s first language is the foundation for successful learning in later developmental years. Writing development and a strong math foundation are also extremely important.

This is the time that children learn to love culture and languages. Play time, interaction with cultural groups, and extra-curricular activities (music, art, sports) provide the best opportunities for learning languages and enjoying culture. Language development takes place naturally during these early years.

It is important to plan in advance when you know your child will be transitioning to a new or different type of school. Your child’s portfolio (see pg. 12 for details on creating a portfolio) will provide good information to help a new school place your child.

Middle School Years (6th through 8th grade): These years are critical for identity development. Activities including music, art, and sports should encourage strong friendships that help build personal identity.

Also during this time, students tend to want to identify with their first language culture. It cannot be stressed enough how important family involvement is during these years to help children develop healthy identities. It is also important to use this time to teach the history and culture of the passport culture along with encouraging long distance family ties. This can be done while you are overseas, but it is important that these things do take place during these years. If this stage occurs during itineration, there are many opportunities to build a church "family" support via strong youth groups and children’s programs. 

High School Years (9th through 12th grade): Academic credits are important during these years, so it is critical to plan appropriately. It is important to complete a full year of high school before transitioning to another school setting so that the student will receive full credit for course work completed instead of half credits. Some schools may offer the same subjects, but divide the semesters differently. This could affect the number of credits awarded for a class. Completing a full year of high school before transitioning will help avoid credit loss.

When considering a school transition, it is important to remember that every school may require different subjects to be completed before graduation. The parent and student should investigate the necessary graduation requirements for a particular school that the student may attend.

AP courses and Honor courses are good choices for students who want to attend university. These are rigorous classes that prepare the student for university level work.

If you are required to make a transition in the middle of a school year, be sure to keep important information from your child's school (name of school, contact info, report cards, etc.), as well as your child's portfolio (see pg. 12 for information on creating a portfolio.)

High school is also the time to begin preparing your TCK for their transition to college and adult life. (See College Preparation pg. 52 for more details.) Encourage your high school child to reconnect with family in the US, especially if they choose to attend a college located near family members.

Remember that your child’s success through transition partly depends on your support and helping him/her prepare for that transition. The TCKI Office is available to offer suggestions and helps if your child is struggling with transition.

Practical Parenting Through the Educational Process
Revised from an article by Dr. Brenda Dickey

Your TCK needs your support through the education process. Research shows that a good social support system at home and school is an important key for educational success.

You may assume that if your child attends a good school and works hard their hard work will be enough to achieve academic success. In reality, your home is a very important source of support. That includes your guidance in creating positive social opportunities.

It is important to understand how your TCK perceives your family support system. For instance, TCKs may perceive support in terms of time spent together and listening to their concerns. When you are busy and do not have daily listening time for your student, support for their educational and emotional needs may suffer. This is especially true when your TCK translates time with you, as a measure of caring.

If your student begins to develop a lack of interest in school, shows negative behavior or withdraws from normal activities, there may be a need for some special attention. Consistent daily interaction is important to the educational success of your TCK.

When a student experiences stress in the school environment, they may need your listening ear. Students often want to talk about their experiences as they process what they are learning. Families who play and spend time together from an early age stay strong when their children go through stressful situations at school. Be willing to adjust your schedule and add or eliminate extra activities to help your child when he/she is struggling. Keep open communication with your child and allow him/her to talk with you about struggles they may be facing.

If you suspect your child’s struggles are related to a learning disability, please feel free to contact the TCK Office. There are education specialists and resources available for testing and helps if needed.

Help your TCK understand the gifts and abilities the Father has given them. Provide opportunities to improve those gifts. Do your best to find activities to help your child grow. Encourage them to stretch and improve their skills outside of the classroom. Look for activities like swimming, soccer, baseball, music, and art that your child can participate in and learn to grow.

Keeping open communication, spending regular time together, and playing together as a family will help your TCKs stay strong educationally and emotionally. Your job is critical and can sometimes be stressful, but if you pour into your children they will succeed in school and learn to handle transition and change well.