Back to School Tips for OFW Parents

Scrabble tiles spelling out Back to School

The school year is almost here, which means it’s time to start thinking about back-to-school shopping and preparing your child for the year ahead! 

There are more than 23 million students who are getting ready for the new school year in the Philippines. For Overseas Filipino Workers, you may need to organize your kid’s to-do list from a distance. Here are some tips to help OFW parents and families get ready to take on the school year with confidence. 

Make a list of supplies

Help your kids and their guardian get organized with a back-to-school shopping list. Email your kids’ teachers or the school to find out what they need for the year. Here are some supplies that most students in the Philippines will need: 

  • A day planner 
  • A school uniform
  • A computer, laptop, or tablet
  • Books 
  • Data or a strong internet plan 

Make sure your kids are well fitted out to start the year right. If the school mandates wearing a school uniform, make sure your kids have uniforms that fit well and look smart. The right technology is also imperative for a successful school year, so make sure your children have what they need before their first day back. 

Budget for back-to-school costs

All those supplies outlined above can start to add up when you consider budgeting for your children’s education. From tuition to extracurricular activities, transportation and supplies, start budgeting for your kid’s back to school expenses sooner, rather than later. Find a way to transfer money back home quickly, securely, and at a low cost so when your child starts to get lists of the other supplies they need, the funds are ready and waiting for a trip to the store. 

If your child will be attending public school, tuition for primary school, state universities, and colleges is waived under the Free Tuition Law. Private schools, however, charge varying tuition fees depending on the location and school type. Here’s a sample of what to expect to pay for private school according to Smart Parenting: 

tuition fee preschool

Source: “Here Is the Cost of Your Child’s Education From Preschool to College

In addition, here’s a snapshot of some additional costs you can expect to pay throughout the year. Books, school supplies, uniforms, and other fees get more expensive as your children graduate to higher levels of education. 

cost tuition fee school

Source: “Here Is the Cost of Your Child’s Education From Preschool to College

Start saving more throughout the year to make sure your kids have what they need to get through the school year successfully.  

Prepare younger children with a video call

Some kids need a pep talk before heading back to school for the year. Meeting their new teacher, making friends, and keeping up with homework is intimidating to younger students. Parents working overseas can help their kids prepare by scheduling regular video calls. For example, if there’s a 12 hour time difference with your family, call them each morning after you’re done with work to make sure your kids get out the door on time. Make sure they have their books packed, their uniforms on, and have eaten breakfast before sending them off for the day. When you wake up in the morning, spend 30 minutes asking them how their day went and checking in on their homework. While it may be agonizing that you can’t be there in person, use the time difference to your advantage to keep up with how the year is going.

Talk to the teachers and school administrators

Students go through growing pains every year, and if this is the first school year you’re living overseas away from your family, this school year may be especially fraught. Get in touch with your child’s teachers, coaches, counselors, and other school administrators to apprise them of changes in your family situation. In case your child acts out, this context can help adults help your child adjust. “Additionally, the school needs to have your correct contact information and details about who will be picking up and dropping off your child at school and other related events,” notes one OFW advice column

Support your student from afar 

Last but not least, keep your students motivated throughout the year and let them know you’re supporting them, no matter what. It can be tempting to play the disciplinarian from a distance. But the best way to make sure your student succeeds is to be encouraging. “Ask children about their assignments, favorite teachers and friends in school,” writes one Pinoy blog. “Encourage them to study hard, while minimize scolding them for mistakes. Encouragement to do better through ‘surprise’ gifts and small rewards motivate children while scolding them for petty mistakes might make them less open to sharing their experiences.”
Remind your kids that life is about balance: grades are important, but so are friendships, family, and community. Even from a distance, you can give them the tools and wisdom they need to grow into healthy, happy adults.