Educating Your Child in a New Country
For many parents who decide to emigrate their children’s feelings on the move can either make it an exciting prospect or an absolute nightmare. Children can often be extremely concerned over having to settle into a new school and also being forced to leave behind friends for new ones. Often, the thought of moving is simply tied in with the idea of leaving behind security and friendship, rather than the actual prospect of the move.
Involving Your Children in the MoveWhen you are moving abroad, it is very important to involve your children as much as possible. From the offset, discuss with them how they feel about moving to a new school and about leaving behind existing friends and schoolmates. Many younger children will find it easier to adapt because their social network isn’t as close knit as older children. Teenagers especially can have difficulties with the thought of moving and starting all over again. Showing your children their new school and perhaps even letting them choose if possible will help to alleviate their fears slightly. If you have Internet access, put your children in touch with as many ex-pat kids as possible in the area. Often finding other ex-pats on forums is easy, so speaking to them about their kids experiences will hopefully help your own children settle in easier.
Researching the Education System in Your New CountryWhen you’ve managed to get your child’s mind around the idea of moving, start researching local schools in the area you’re heading to. Many schools have their allocation snapped up early on and enrolment can be difficult. Start contacting the head of all the local schools and explain the situation. Many will be understanding and will hopefully be able to offer your child a place. It is often a good idea to try to time your move with the school terms. For most children, walking into a new class in the middle of term can be far more stressful than starting at the beginning of term. Check with the schools you’re looking at for their term times. If you’re moving to a far away location, the school semesters may be different from the UK. Try and work out what is ultimately going to be better for your child to adapt to. Decide early on whether you want your child to go to a state education school or a private school. For many private schools, the fees can be extremely high. Also, there are usually limited spaces, so your child may need to sit an entrance exam to guarantee them a place. For most, state education in developed countries is every bit as good as private education and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Your Child and the New CurriculumBefore leaving the UK, ensure that you obtain a complete breakdown of the curriculum your child has been following. Also, ask for reports from all school departments that outline your child’s progress through school. Send these in advance if you know the new school your child will be attending. This will allow them to prepare or adapt their existing curriculum to best suit your child’s needs. Always keep a copy of these for your own personal records. Should you ever need to move again, this would help profile the kind of work your child has been doing. If you arrive in your new country during a holiday, make an appointment at the school to obtain the information needed on the upcoming classes your child will be involved in. This means you can buy the books beforehand or help your child with any problems before they arrive at school. Also, find out what opportunities exist for extra-curricular activities. These will sometimes help your child settle quicker and enable them to make friends faster.
Ultimately, being prepared and researching as much as possible will mean that your child’s entry into a new education system abroad is as painless and stress-free as possible. Always be willing to listen to their worries and have an open mind about how they’re finding their new situation. Most children will eventually adapt, but they need to do so at their own pace. Choosing a good school where they can excel will help them with this.