Reykjavik, Iceland Report of what it's like to live there - 01/11/22
Personal Experiences from Reykjavik, Iceland
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
2017-2019 - K to 1st
3. What years did you live here?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
Yes, we choose this school because other Americans were attending
Admissions & Welcome:
1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
In our experience - poor - it seems to us that they definitely treat non-Icelanders different than Icelanders. And, we also felt that the French national teacher had a clear preference for the two French students in the class.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
It was mixed in our experience - it seems that some students got more communications and attention than other students and families. The administration was - for us - hard to get ahold of, and regular school staff did not seem to like to being bothered with questions from international families-we found them not very helpful or proactive.
2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?
No, costs were reasonable.
Academics & Resources:
1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
Yes, fair size with some English language books.
4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
We did not need them in K / 1st grade
5. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
No gym or pool, though there are swimming classes that are held at local pool. The school has a lot of open recess space and playing fields.
6. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
1 to 12-16
7. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?
8. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?
We felt this was a major deficiency. Their curriculum follows a Nordic model, which does not emphasize many of the things US schools do in the elementary grades. We found that some teachers did not communicate strengths and weaknesses well, nor did they adjust their teaching to address areas that needed more support. In our case, our child was over a grade level behind in the core area (writing, reading, math) when we got back to the States. Fortunately, our child was able to catch up with excellent support from the local US school system and outside help.
9. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
It was hit and miss - from our experience it did not really work.
10. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
Yes, they have a very good arts and music program - but it seemed that the Icelandic kids got first access so our child missed out on music classes - no availability.
11. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Yes, for certain teachers working in the Int'l program, almost all Icelanders speak proficient English. There were some issues with the K/1st grade teacher whose primary language was French.
12. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
13. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. What is the climate for LGBT+ kids at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Does there appear to be any exclusionary behavior?
No experience with this issue, but Icelanders are generally very supportive of LGBT issues and I think the school would be very supportive if/when it comes up.
2. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
Not really, International students are generally separate from Icelandic students. The school never seemed to believe or address instances of Icelandic students who appeared to be ostracizing international school students.
3. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
Yes., which is funny because generally Icelandic children were very warm and open to kids, my child had a lot of friends. There were friends who went to the school, but my child even noticed they acted different at school versus in the neighborhood.
1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?
This is an A school if your child speaks Icelandic and goes to the regular school - staying in a Nordic model that emphasizes skills at a different rate than US Schools. I would not have taken this assignment if I knew that the school would put my child so far behind, which lead to a lot of anxiety until my child caught back up in the US school.
2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
We felt like the school played down issues that should have been taken more seriously.