3. Be mindful of your child’s feelings
See the world through the eyes of your child. Starting a new school in a strange country is extremely daunting for the majority of children and you need to do everything you can to guide and support them through this process.
Children generally adapt to change very well and it will not be too long before they have settled in and made new friends. However, it is very important to remain vigilant to their feelings throughout the process and continually help them to accept their new home.
4. Age plays a role in how your child adapts
The child’s age and developmental stage are big factors. Pre-schoolers locate “home” wherever their parents are – and are ideal candidates for even the most extreme expat relocation. Between ages five and ten, children can develop strong but flexible attachments to friends and schools. This means that if they are prepared adequately for the move, they can quite quickly adapt to their new environment and form new social attachments.
Teenagers are often the most reluctant expats. Their identity is wrapped up in their social relationships and recreational activities. Leaving these can be profoundly dislocating and can even be experienced as a form of bereavement.
Preparing your children for living abroad is a process. Of course, some kids will embrace the experience from the first mention of “We’re moving to Jakarta!” and in all likelihood will thrive in their new home. And some expat moves to similar cultural environments will entail far fewer adjustments. But most will need a little help to reach a stage of acceptance and positive adaptation.
5. Involve the children
Let the children participate in the decision-making process. Involve them from the start so they have a chance to get used to the idea, raise any concerns, and – most importantly – feel like their opinions helped shape the decision to move abroad. Show the choices of accommodation and schools and get their input. At this stage it is vital to be clear and realistic in the information you provide. Not everything is going to be easy. Some sacrifices might have to be made. Don’t fudge the details – honesty with an emphasis on the positive is the key to gaining your children’s acceptance. Involve your children with packing – which favourite toys need to travel with them and which can be shipped. Pack familiar bedding so that when you arrive at your destination there is something familiar from home.
6. Look to your school community
Our school has a strong community of local families as well as long and short-term expatriates. Your child’s school often becomes a major focus of your child’s life as well as your family’s social life.
We encourage parents to get in touch with the school's admissions team as they are an invaluable source of local information, as well as tips and advice on everything from places to live and visit, to joining sporting and social clubs.
We also encourage parents to join local Facebook groups or other activity-focused websites that connect families in the area in which they live.