Moving to the Cayman Islands is an exciting opportunity to live in paradise with pristine beaches, optimal weather and a high standard of living. It is an excellent new beginning, but moving to any country may be stressful and difficult for families with school-aged students.
For parents, this means being assigned the task of not only moving, but also finding the perfect school. An international school experience brings a world of opportunity, but it also comes with many questions. The admissions office at Cayman International School has put together a checklist for parents relocating to the Cayman Islands.
When moving to the Cayman Islands, think about what will be best for you and your family in terms of location on the island, type of residence, home features, lifestyle, schools and affordability. Spend time researching schools, looking through their websites, speaking to existing parents and drawing up a shortlist.
When considering a school in the Cayman Islands, it is important to begin by assessing your child’s strengths and weaknesses and preferred learning community. This will assist in narrowing down your choices. If your child is strong in academics, your focus may be the school’s curriculum and learning programmes, small class sizes and academic performance. Alternatively, if your child is passionate about athletics or enjoys outdoor learning, a school with extensive grounds with purpose-built facilities will be high on your list. Some children will be passionate about performing arts or STEAM (science-technology-engineering-arts-math), in which case these need to be nurtured with the time and effort of staff and proper equipment.
Include your child or children in the process, but the decision should not be down to them. Many children move to the island feeling excited as well as nervous, so keep communication open. Bring them on a tour or virtual tour of the school and be sure to ask the admissions officers how students transition into the school community, whether that be a school ambassador programme or an orientation.
UNDERSTAND THE ADMISSION PROCESS
Be sure to understand the practicalities and timeline for applying to schools on Grand Cayman. It is important to understand if a school has rolling admissions or if there is an intake deadline for a particular academic year. Prepare all of your supporting documents such as school reports, transcripts, standardised test scores, confidential reference forms and health information, in advance. You may also need to pay an administration fee for each application. In addition, schools may require an assessment or to gather more information. Remember that this is part of the process as schools want to ensure that both the child and school are the right fit.
Mary O'Connor is the director, external relations at Cayman International School.