Moving abroad with children has become a common feature of life. Many families who decide to move abroad see this as a rewarding experience that they must have at least once in their lifetime. It provides an opportunity for children to explore, learn and experience a new culture. However, moving abroad with a family and starting a new life in a new country can be daunting. Many factors can contribute to how a child reacts to a move and their emotions and expectations need to be considered in order to ensure a successful transition.
As a parent, you can help make the move abroad a smooth and beneficial experience for the entire family with these 5 top tips.
1. Be open and talk to your children
Being open and honest with your children about the move abroad should be a top priority. Moving to a new country is a major change for the entire family and the process may cause your children to experience some stress and anxiety. Explain to each child at their own level of understanding the reasons for moving abroad, what their new home and school will be like, and how they can contribute to the success of the family’s relocation. Encourage your children to express their feelings and any concerns that they may have about the move abroad. Open communication and discussions with your children will help to alleviate some of their stress, manage their expectations and support them in becoming more comfortable about the move.
2. Make your children feel involved
Another way to prepare and support your children about the move abroad is to make them feel involved with the process. Here are some ideas:
- Show them pictures, books and movies that feature your family’s next home country and emphasise on the positives.
- Take your children to the library or encourage them to go online to research about the country’s language, culture, food, music and local sports teams.
- Get your children to help make a list of things that they would like to bring to their new home abroad.
- Ask your children to make a list of the activities and fun places that they would like to visit around and near their new home abroad.
- If the country uses a different language, get your family involved early in learning the new language to become familiar with how the local people speak.
3. Research education options
Get a head start in finding the right school for your children when planning for your move abroad. Each country will have different education systems and curriculum. Find information about local and international schools in your new location to learn about the benefits and disadvantages of each option based on your child’s needs. For example, international schools may be ideal if your child is unfamiliar with the language in the host country and may benefit from socializing and learning alongside other students from different countries. Conversely, local schools may help your child learn the local language much faster and become accustomed to the culture and traditions of the host country quicker. Researching education options in advance will not only help you to make an informed decision, but also provide support in your child’s transition. Some schools may also have a long enrolment process and waitlist so planning in advance will help you to stay prepared.
4. Find a local family doctor and plan for your family’s healthcare
Looking after you and your family’s health is essential when planning for your move abroad. Children’s immune systems are generally more sensitive than adults so they are more prone to illnesses when the climate and environment suddenly change. Finding a local family doctor in advance will help to provide extra peace of mind when your child has unpredicted illnesses or injuries. It is also a good idea to find an English-speaking doctor if your new home country uses a foreign language as communication is crucial when your child is ill.
5. Maintain strong ties with family and friends in your home country
It is important to let your children know that moving abroad does not mean they will lose contact and connection with their family and friends back in their home country. Reassure them that they can contact their family and friends back home anytime, but also encourage them to take advantage of the situation to make new friends. Here are some ideas to help your children keep memories of their home country alive:
- Host an unforgettable ‘goodbye’ party to help your children celebrate and acknowledge this major life transition of moving abroad.
- Keep celebrating traditions and special occasions from your home country.
- Keep photos and memorable objects from your home country and display them in your new home abroad.
- Use social media and video calls to help your children stay in contact with family and friends back home.
Although moving abroad with children is not an easy undertaking, preparing in advance will help to alleviate some of your stress and create a smoother transition abroad for your children. Keeping your children top-of-mind and involving them throughout the planning process for the relocation will greatly contribute to a successful move abroad.
For more expert tips about moving abroad and a free moving quote, contact National Van Lines.