Monday, January 16, 2012

5 key reflection when moving with kids

Moving remains a challenge but it has become a sort of a game for us. As a family we have moved seven times since 1998. It is very easy as couple, things get complicated when children arrive but the older the kids grow the it tricker it gets.

In theory a move sounds great. But kids don't always see the disruption to their settled routines in the same light. Of course, there are strong arguments in favour of an International upbringing, even if your children don't necessarily appreciate them at the time.

The grown-ups may fret about schools and a family-friendly culture. Children have more important priorities: where to get cheap video games, decent burgers and long hours in front of the television.

Following are some key considerations to bear in mind when moving abroad with children:

1) Age
In general it is more difficult to take older children out of their existing school environment, particularly if they are at, or approaching, crunch exam years. And they are more likely to have friends they will be unwilling to leave (and for which they will curse you at high volume!).

2) Location and Cultural Similarities
The degree of disruption and subsequent integration also depends on where you are moving to. Your children will have a closer cultural affinity to some countries than others, which should make the transition easier, especially if there is no language barrier to overcome. And if you're close enough to get back home for frequent visits to see extended family and friends so much the better.

3) Education
How good is the system in your target destination? What quality of education will your children receive? How large are the schools and the classes within them (smaller schools and class sizes may be less daunting as a new entrant)?

Do you anticipate sending your children to an International school along with other expatriate kids, or will they go to the local one? An International school may offer less initial readjustment - especially if you are moving to a country that speaks a different language - but in the longer term local schools may help your children integrate better into the wider community.

4) Pleasure in Leisure
It's important your children see tangible benefits from moving abroad, and being able to offer them the chance to engage in their favorite pastimes, or try out new ones, is one way of doing that.

Perhaps they'll be able to take up surfing or horse riding, or go skiing on weekends? Maybe you'll have a swimming pool in your back garden?

The flip side of course is to guard against SBS - Spoilt Brat Syndrome!

5) Health and Safety
The quality of health care provision you can expect to receive in your target country is one factor in these considerations (and let's face it, with kids you know you'll be using it!).

But health is also about staying well. And that means having decent drinking water, good sanitation, access to good quality foodstuffs, low levels of environmental pollutants, and so on.

Then there is personal safety. And what about the prevalence of drug use, racial and religious intolerance, sex discrimination, sexual assaults, child abuse?

There's no need to start hyperventilating over every possible form of harm that could come to your child, but as a parent it's only natural to consider these things.

Children may be flexible, but don't underestimate how tough it can be for them to be wrenched from their small, secure worlds and thrust into a new one. So ask yourself this - will they thank you in the long run?

The answer will be YES if you give them a good example to follow by approaching your new adventure positively and with the right spirit. It WILL rub off onto your kids eventually!

1 comment:

viola said...

very nice advice my kids and my husband n me will be moving by 2013 what is the good advice for kids from age 7 n 3 to know?

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