Considerations for taking a year off (or so) to study abroad

Q: Have any of you thought of letting your kids take a year off to study abroad or for shorter term periods?  On the subject of sending kids for a year abroad – what kind of organized year abroad options are typically offered at schools in your areas?  What are your considerations?
A: Some of our deciding factors in choosing the private Jr. High/Highschool we are aiming for(DS will start attending the juku that is part of the same parent corporation as the Jr. High in April as a 5th grader to ensure passing the entrance exams.)is that it offers courses other than English using English as the medium of instruction and its enthusiasm for study abroad. We were unable to find any public schools with equivalent programs. Some public schools in our area do have year abroad exchanges through external organizing bodies, but not offering credit, and one in our area does offer other foreign languages.

The school(Okinawa Shogakuin has two 1-year study abroad programs organized with schools in the U.S. in which student will gain 30 credits towards graduation so won’t be completely taking time “off”. In addition they have several reciprocal exchange programs for 3-weeks to the U.S. Brazil, Taiwan and Australia. We plan to try to be a host family when students from those schools come here as well in our never ending quest to expose our kids to English speakers their own age.

Alternatively this school supports parents organizing their own children’s study abroad experiences. For example,a friend who’s daughter attended there sent her to attend school while living with his brother who is a teacher at a small Catholic highschool in the U.S.The school fully supported this and her transitions in and out of the school were smooth according to my friend. She didn’t receive school credit, but it wasn’t a problem with the school.

— M. in Okinawa

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