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One of the most daunting aspects of moving to a new country for expat children is starting a new school, especially if they have to deal with language and cultural differences. Here are some tips on how to make the transition easier for your child.

Tips for expat parents

Get them involved in the move

Don’t try and hide the move from your children. Keep them as involved as possible and start discussing the fact that moving countries will involve a new start for them at a new school. Be positive and encourage them to learn as much as they can about the new country they are moving to.

Discuss the type of weather you’ll be experiencing, the different food you will be eating and start exploring any interesting cultural traditions. The more information you can provide them with, the better.  Most expat sites have comprehensive information about the schooling in different countries, so you and your child can start researching what ‘going to school in your new country’ involves. If you see your child will need some help or assistance to reach the educational level required in your new country, consider getting them extra lessons before you move – that way your child can feel more confident on their arrival.

Make the right school choice

The biggest decision when moving to a new country is whether to place your child at an international school, where they can carry on with their current curriculum, or at a local state school. International schools are private and will command higher fees than local public schools, but the advantage is that your child will be taught in their home language and will mingle with other expat children going through the same experience. It will also enable them to learn any new foreign languages at a more sedate pace.

If you choose to go the local public/state school route, the advantages are that your child will be plunged right into the local language and culture. In the long-term this will be of benefit, especially if your new country’s main language is foreign to your child, as they will quickly become immersed in the local ‘lingo’. They will also rapidly adjust to the local culture and way of life, which will benefit them if you plan to stay for more than a few years or are immigrating permanently.

Plan an early visit to the school

If you’re lucky, you will be able to view the new school online before you even arrive in your new country, but it will also benefit your child if they have the opportunity to visit the school before the hustle and bustle of a busy school day.

Many schools will have orientation programmes for new children, which will also benefit your child, as he or she will have the chance to meet their teachers and other new children in a quieter environment.

Encourage emotions and conversations

If your child is young, it’s only natural to expect a few tears at the beginning. Don’t diminish your child’s feelings and be as supportive as possible. Try to ensure everything is calm and organised at the start of the school day and as soon as you can get a smooth routine up and running, the better.

If your children are older, encourage them to talk about their day. Ask them leading questions to discover what they are enjoying or are worried about. Try and be as supportive as possible and visit teachers early on if it appears there are educational differences between your child’s old and new curriculums.

Lastly, be patient. Settling into a new school will take at least three months. Encourage your child to bring new friends home and attend local parties that they are invited to. The sooner they start feeling involved, the better.

If you’re planning on immigrating and need financial advice about your move, contact us today.  We’re here to help put you on the path to financial freedom in your new home.
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