Top five ways to help children adjust to a foreign school


March 2023 

Sending your child off for their first day of school in a new country can be daunting for both of you. Follow our top tips to make the transition easier. 

Wherever possible, move with as much time ahead of the school start date as possible, as this will give your child an opportunity to adjust to their new home surroundings first.

Being surrounded by people speaking a different language in a new country can be stressful for children. Why not help them learn the language by practicing along with them through games, picture books, or television? Reading bilingual books together will allow more natural transition as opposed to reading books in a new language only.

Organising some extra language tuition with a private tutor can help them to pick up the language quickly and be able to talk to other children at school or in the park. Once they can easily communicate with their peers, you’ll find that they settle in quite quickly.

One of the best ways to help children adapt to a new school is to organise a visit there beforehand so when the first day at school finally arrives, they’ll be more familiar with the surroundings.

Most schools will be able to accommodate showing you and your child around. If it’s not possible to physically visit the school in advance, you can also look online with your child. Check out the school’s website and social media so you can see what type of activities and lessons they do. You could also arrange a video call with a teacher so your child can ask questions about what they will be learning. Some schools also offer virtual tours. 

One of the biggest challenges for children when moving abroad and starting in a new school is having to make new friends. While you can’t go in and make friends for them, you can help facilitate friendship building by organising a play date or meet-up with a classmate. This will not only help them feel more comfortable in their new environment but also give them a support network.

Another way to help your children form new friendships is to encourage them to participate in after school activities. This will not only expand their social circle, but also encourage them to have fun and keep busy.

Help them choose one or more activities they might enjoy and get them enrolled as soon as you can. It might be easier for them to connect with their peers over a shared interest like sports, music, art or drama than it is for them to connect during the school day.

You could also look into expat meet ups, where your child can enjoy a break from struggling with a new language and culture, and can just relax with some like-minded children from a similar background.

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