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School culture shock - choosing local vs international

When choosing between a Danish or an international school, many parents are faced

with an important decision that will impact their child’s educational future in Denmark.


Text: Kelly Kristensen

Moving to a new place can be an exciting time, but it can also bring its fair share of worries. One concern on every parent’s mind is picking the right school for his or her child. However, parents can use this time to reflect on what they feel is best for their child and their family when deciding where their child should attend school.

If you live in an area where you only have the local Danish school as an option, your choice is made for you. However, if you have the choice to send your child to a Danish or an international school, there are many factors to consider when deciding which type of school is best for your situation.

International schools

An international school is a great option for those families who are only in Denmark for a short time or for those who want their children to continue with a curriculum that is more like those found in the UK or USA. This can be helpful if you plan to move from Denmark while your child is still in school. Also, many of the other students come from various countries and understand what it is like to be in a new place, and they all speak the same language. This could help your child settle into his or her new school and make friends quickly.

If you are an international parent, you might find it easier to help your child with their studies since it is a language you understand. In addition, students can still learn Danish in these schools, which may be a helpful way for them to learn about the culture and language without the pressure of needing to know it right away to understand the coursework.

International schools are also great for older students who don’t have much time left before they go on to high school and university. However, learning a new language can slow down a child’s learning in a Danish school since all of the new material will first need to be translated.

Danish schools

Danish schools (folkeskole) are a great place to get your child immersed in Danish culture and language. If you plan to stay in Denmark for a long time or even if you are undecided, you might find that a Danish school is a better option to get your child integrated into society.

Younger children are given more freedom to play and grow socially than those in other countries, and education is taken at a leisurely pace. For this reason, learning Danish can come naturally to younger children without adding the stress of keeping up with the curriculum. This is also true since grades are not given in Danish schools usually until your child is in the 8th grade.

"Danish schools (folkeskole) are a great place to get your child immersed in Danish culture and language."

By learning the language and experiencing social norms that other children in Denmark are experiencing, your child can feel more integrated and learn what it means to be “Danish”. Knowing the language can help them make friends in their sports clubs and with other children in the neighbourhood and take their high school placement exams in the 8th and 9th grades. There are many positives to attending a Danish school. It can even be beneficial later when those children grow up and continue onto Danish universities, where the educational structure and language will be familiar.

Unique experience

No matter where you choose to send your child, and no matter the reason, they are sure to have a unique experience during their educational time in Denmark. In all schools, you will find a very laid-back approach to communicating with lots of chances for students to express themselves in different ways and learn from collaborative activities. In addition, special themed units, sports day, holiday decorating, and other events are a part of every school in Denmark, which helps to bring students together and teach a sense of community.

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