You and your family have made the move. After settling in to your home, your child will soon start school in a new city with unfamiliar faces. In the final part of our Moving Abroad Series, we offer some tips on how you can help your child ease in to their new school community.
It has been a whirlwind for your family. After commiting to moving abroad and bringing along your entire family, hopefully you have had some time to get acquainted with your new surroundings. Here are some tips on how you can help your child adjust to their new school.
When your child starts a new school in their host country try to avoid putting instant pressure on them to become top of the class. The immediate concerns for your child will pertain to coping with an unfamiliar environment, fitting in with the other children and finding their way around a strange environment. Talk to them about these things and help them to plan how they will approach the first few days. Worry about grades later. Be aware that your child's grades could be affected by the move. Often, grades go down. This can be due to the change in curriculum, change in teaching styles or simply that they need time to adjust.
Attending extra-curricular activities outside the classroom environment will give your child opportunities to make new friends. If there is already a sport or activity that they are good at, this will also allow them to build some confidence and win some respect among their peers.
If your child has to travel or walk to school, make sure they know the route, the times that the bus picks them up, and how to get home. Ensure that your child knows their home telephone number and their address, just in case.
Leave special treats in their lunch bag. A note from you is always appreciated, too. Try not to make them feel homesick, rather it should be a feeling of encouragement. Acclimating to a new school does not happen overnight. However, given time and the right opportunities, it should not be too long until your children start to accept the new country as home.
Keep open lines of communication with your child. This is especially important during the settling-in phase where the child will deal with unfamiliar people and surroundings, and will need plenty of positive support. Listen to your child, let them express their feelings, without necessarily coming up with solutions. Help your child to see that anxiety and fear are just the flipside of excitement and adventure. Lead them through the tricky early stages and they may soon blossom in their new environment.
Teens are likely to need plenty of empathy and support even though they may not ask for it in an obvious way. Look out for rebelling and mood swings. These are signals that he or she needs help with the adjustment. An important strategy is to join online communities that offer peer-to-peer support. Sites such as Teenxpats.com and TCkid.com are excellent sources of information, advice and networking provided for kids by other kids.
Our schools have strong communities of local families as well as long- and short-term expatriates. Your child’s school often becomes a major focus of the family's life.
We encourage parents to keep close contact with the admissions team at their school 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.
In case you missed the first two articles in our Moving Abroad Series, you can find them here: