by Christianna Pangalos
From pediatric sleep specialists, to Chinese language learning, through to college transitions, a surprising diversity of EFM-owned education businesses support Foreign Service children every step of the way. These dedicated EFM professionals bring world-class qualifications, experience, and service with a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that come with a globally mobile life. Additionally, many of these small businesses offer special discounts to the Foreign Service community. This article sums up the current educational services on offer from EFM educational businesses (EFM businesses, including Members of Household and retirees), as of November 2017. Feel free to reach out to them directly for more information.
Pediatric Sleep Specialists
While the idiom “sleep like a baby” implies a good night’s rest, it is well known that young babies are far from good sleepers. To complicate things, frequent time zone changes, jet lag and unfamiliar sleeping spaces can make it even more difficult for Foreign Service tots to get into a regular sleep rhythm. As Ingrid Hanifen from Best Rest Families explains, “Families in the Foreign Service are constantly moving and adapting to new places and situations; as a result, sometimes sleep is disrupted and it can be hard to get back on track.” Families struggling with their child’s sleep can deepen their sleep knowledge and confidence for better transitions with the support of an EFM Pediatric Sleep Specialist.
These are the two EFM Education Businesses currently offering pediatric sleep support:
Best Rest Families, LLC – Provides sleep help to families all over the world using gentle sleep coaching techniques for children ages 0- 6 years of age. For more information contact Ingrid Hanifen, BSN, RN at Ingrid@BestRestFamilies.com or visit www.BestRestFamilies.com.
Therapy, Coaching and Special Needs Support
As Foreign Service students move around the world, they may find themselves in countries where they can not access specialized educational support. Erin Long, from Worldwide Speech Therapy has observed that “although many children with special needs are “getting by” in the international school setting they are not necessarily meeting their full potential.” EFM education businesses help fill this gap, in any time zone, through the provision of online therapy, coaching and special needs support. Services include reading instruction and remediation for struggling readers, speech and occupational therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and dyslexia tutoring. “Third Culture Kids have a unique set of strengths and needs,” explains Tracy Davis from Global Therapy Consultants. By bringing specialized services to these students, in person or online, EFM businesses have impacted the education and lives of many special needs children living abroad.
Parenting takes on a whole new dimension when living a life away from extended family, with ever-changing friendships, cultures and schools. Angie Collins, from Empowered Parents Empowering Daughters, highlights the importance of “defining what matters to you and what brings your family true joy.” The nuclear family is sometimes the most stable element in a globally mobile life, and coming up with an action plan to becoming a calm, confident and connected parent is crucial to a child’s success when constantly in transition. These are the three EFM businesses offering therapy, coaching and special needs support:
Empowered Parents Empowering Daughters – Provides one-to- one online parent coaching via Skype for parents of daughters from toddlers to teens. For more information contact Angie Collins at www.facebook.com/parentcoachangie or visit www.ParentCoachAngie.com.
Global Therapy Consultants – Provides Telehealth OT, PT, Speech, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Specialized Dyslexia Tutoring, Special Education services, IEP writing, and anything else a special education student requires to succeed. For more information contact Tracey Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.globaltherapyconsultants.com.
Worldwide Speech Therapy Inc. – Offers a comprehensive approach to special education with online services including speech therapy, occupational therapy, reading intervention, special education training for teachers and IEPs for international schools. For more information contact Erin Long at email@example.com or visit www.worldwidespeech.com.
“Don’t know much about history,” from Sam Cooke’s famous song, is a line that rings true with
Foreign Service students who’ve missed out on American History while living abroad. Leah Moorefield Evans from Afterschoolplans.com reports that she identified the need to create fun and personalized educational materials after teaching US History to Foreign Service students at several overseas posts. Similarly, Alix Lee Bryant operates US History Abroad to bring a unique, fun and self-paced online learning program to students anywhere. In my own case, I (Christianna Pangalos) was inspired to start a teacher-led, online US History and Civics program after American parents at post asked me to teach their kids according to the US curriculum. The courses all follow US education standards, and all include a box of fun materials which are mailed to kids all over the world.
US History and Civics programs are often reimbursable for Foreign Service families through the DSSR Supplementary Instruction Allowance. Apart from US History, EFM businesses support Foreign Service students in many other ways. Amanda Hsiung Blogett operates Miss Panda Chinese, offering engaging Chinese language and culture resources that parents can use to expand their children’s cross-cultural communication skills in a global community. Twiga Tutors’ certified EFM teachers use education technology to ensure that frequent mobility doesn’t leave students behind their American peers in Math, English and Science. Tigris Academy provides comprehensive educational solutions for Gifted and Talented, Homeschooled and Special Needs students in the Foreign Service. And Mogwee provides high-quality, affordable and diverse academic services for globally mobile FS families. These include music lessons, a dance teacher, languages and much more. Finally, for parents taking a more active role in their children’s schools, Gina Schlieman helps Foreign Service parents serving on boards of international schools to better understand, evaluate, and improve their school.
Here are the seven EFM Educational Businesses that support the academic needs of FS students:
Afterschoolplans.com – Provides American history courses for elementary and middle school students as well as relocation books and resources for expat families. For more information contact Leah Moorefield Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.afterschoolplans.com.
GPS Strategies Group LLC – Provides research, training, and advice on school quality, international
competitiveness, effective management and governance. For more information contact Gina Schlieman at email@example.com or visit https://gpsstrategiesgroup.blogspot.com.
Mogwee.com – MOGwee puts social studies projects in the real world for teenagers. Each Study Unit addresses a current issue in-depth guided by an expert, including scholars, activists, artists and scientists providing one-on- one video-chats. Topics range from election-monitoring to analyzing the taxi industry to understanding the ecological impact of trash. And with perspectives from Afghanistan to Vietnam, Kenya to Myanmar, MOGwee helps teens see issues in a whole new light. Contact Colleen Mascenik, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.mogwee.com.
Tigris Academy – Comprehensive education solutions for Gifted, Talented, Homeschooled, and Special Needs kids. For more information contact Alix Lee Bryant at email@example.com or visit www.tigrisacademy.com.
Twiga Tutors – Provides Teacher-Led Learning in English, Math, Science and US History and Civics for kids in K-12. USG Reimbursements apply to some programs. Contact Christianna Pangalos at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.twigatutors.com.
Many families get the jitters as their teens prepare for college. Having lived overseas for much of their lives, “Foreign Service parents and students often lack understanding of the US and European college systems,” explains Dr. Hannah Morris from Intercultural Transitions. Rebecca Grappo from RNG International Educational Consultants adds, “It is critically important to find the right fit is between the student and the school or college. What is a great school for one student may not be for another — some students may struggle to survive but when the match is right, then they thrive.” Four EFM businesses support FS kids with the various steps of the college application and transition process. As Dr. Lauren Steed explains, “Professional educational consultants keep up on the latest trends in admissions and help navigate the mazes of college options and financial aid to make the best decisions for the student and family.” And while in some ways Foreign Service families are “out of the loop” from living overseas, “Foreign service kids have an advantage in the college admission process because of their overseas experiences and typically wide worldview,” explains Francesca Kelly from Essay Advantage.
EFM businesses support Foreign Service students to bring out their best with college application essay support, the resources to find a college where they will be successful, and assistance in making their first intercultural transition away from their family unit with confidence. These are the four EFM businesses supporting Foreign Service kids during college transitions:
Essay Advantage – Provides college application essay coaching by supporting students towards better writing through an ethical process that ensures the essay is in the applicant’s own voice. Provides a 50% discount to FS families. Foreign Service Journal Education Supplement: http://afsa.org/education-articles. Contact Francesca Kelly at email@example.com or visit www.essayadvantage.net.
Intercultural Transitions – Provides college admissions and transition guidance curated for Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and International School Students. Dr. Morris and Megan Norton, both members of foreign service families, have expertise in university admissions and intercultural identity development; they provide one-on- one college application and planning guidance and college success workshops for parents and students. For more information contact: InterculturalTransitions@gmail.com or visit www.interculturaltransitions.org.
Nomad Educational Services – A college planning and admissions consulting agency offering advice on planning college tours, essay writing, financial aid, and everything the expat student needs to make their college match. For more information contact Dr. Lauren Steed at Lauren@nomad-ed.com or visit
RNG International Educational Consultants, LLC – Provides comprehensive educational planning for all kinds of learning styles for students ages 10 – 22 which includes all kinds of boarding school placements, therapeutic programs and school placements, and college planning and advising. For more information contact Rebecca Grappo at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rnginternational.com.