“Build enthusiasm and excitement.”
It is important for parents to build enthusiasm and excitement about an impending move to another country. The most important advance activity is to talk about your relocation in positive terms, soliciting suggestions from your children and encouraging them to express any concerns they have.
- Gather as much material as you can about your destination country.
- If possible, take photographs of your new home and area to share with your children, or visit web sites that portray your new country in colorful pictures.
- Talk to your children about the neighborhood, local areas of interest, and the benefits your family will enjoy in your new location.
- Enroll your children in a few introductory language lessons.
- Obtain some local currency: practice with your older children by using the money for imaginary transactions or follow each real transaction with a “shadow” one in the new currency.
Practical Preparations for Your Children
- Collect all health records, x-rays, and prescriptions (translate these into local language, if possible).
- Arrange for referrals to a physician and a dentist in your new location; the embassy or consulate in your destination country can help.
- Carry extra sets of eyeglasses or contact lenses and copies of all prescriptions.
- Obtain copies of your children’s academic records.
- If you have an infant, determine the availability of formula and disposable diapers—you might plan to carry a sizable supply with you, as well as a blender (with an electrical adapter) for preparing baby food.
The chief concern of most parents is schooling for their children. Gathering information about your schooling options is the first step. Here are some basics, along with sources from which you can obtain information about the availability of that particular kind of school in the location to which you are moving, admissions procedures, grades, curriculum offered, and accreditation:
- Local schools in your destination country may have a different curriculum or educational approach from the school in your current country. This may be an appealing option if you believe your child would adapt quickly to language and cultural differences. A contact in your destination country may be a good source for local information.
- Boarding schools around the world are listed in various directories that are available in the reference area in most public libraries or through major booksellers-International schools in the destination location may also be an option. These schools may offer British, American, French, or other curriculum and may provide instruction in multiple languages.
- For U.S. citizens, there are nearly 200 American-sponsored overseas schools around the world in which an American curriculum is followed. The U.S. Department of Defense operates schools in which priority goes to the dependents of U.S. military personnel, but they are open to other American children on a space-available basis.
- For children approaching college age, school accreditation is particularly important. Generally, colleges and university look favorably on an admissions candidate with foreign experience. Some planning will be required to take college entrance exams.
Children With Special Needs
Resources for children with special needs or talents will vary greatly, depending on where you are going to live. Private tutoring is probably the most widely available option, but you may be able to find organizations or special schools for your child’s needs through referrals. Sources you might pursue are your child’s medical specialist or nonprofit organization.