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How to Help Your Child Adjust to an International School

  • 21 July 2023

Moving to an international school can be a daunting experience, especially for a child who may have to adapt to new cultures, customs, and languages. It is not uncommon for children to experience homesickness during their first few months in a new school. However, with the right mindset and preparation, adapting to the culture of an international school can be a rewarding and life-changing experience.  

For some children, adjusting to a new international school might be challenging. They must negotiate a new culture and perhaps even pick up a new language. They also must make new friends while perhaps missing their old ones. We as parents can help them and mentor them as they go through the process.  Here are some pointers to assist you: 

Together, choose the school and stay upbeat: Include the youngster in your school tour; take him or her to the playground and classroom; present them to the teacher; and offer them a chance to interact. Tell the kid how thrilling this new experience can be. How much s/he will enjoy the school and meet a lot of new people. How the person is going to learn about all these youngsters from different nations. 

Be sensible: In the first week or so, he or she might not make any friends. Not to worry. Assist your child in making friends by asking them their names. You as a parent need to model patience if your child struggles with language acquisition. Encourage children to participate in extracurricular activities or clubs after school. As children grow older, it’s easier to socialize with children who share similar interests.  

Fraternizing:  Meet other parents and take part in school activities. Remember that it’s often the parents who form the social circle for their kids. When parents get to know each other, children play more together, which makes it easier for parents and children to bond. It isn’t just your child who has to adapt to an international school – it’s you too! Reach out for help if needed. 

Talk to your child on daily bases: Each day, encourage your child to tell two things she enjoyed about school that day and two things she wasn’t happy about. Younger children might not be able to express themselves very well. An idea it to have them draw smiley faces on a clock (or next to pictures of the teacher, friends, parents etc), to indicate how they feel at different times during the day. 

Talk to the teacher: The teacher needs to know exactly how your child is doing and what kind of help they may need. School life isn’t just about academics. Partnership between parents and educators is key and guides our team’s best practice. 

Grades can fluctuate, and this can be disheartening: Make sure your child knows that this is just a temporary measure until they’re comfortable with the new curriculum. Stay positive in the home – don’t push too hard for the first couple of weeks. Talk to your children about the distinctions between the old school and the new school and the grading criteria. 

When shifting to an international school, parents should look for certain key factors in the school. The school must have the necessary resources to meet the unique needs of each student, enabling them to reach their full potential. This can be achieved by fostering an environment of teamwork, problem-sharing, compassion, respect, and curiosity.

Cultural Adaptation: Learning and assimilating to a new language or culture can be challenging for both children and adults. A school should actively support cultural exchange and understanding through a wide range of programs and activities. It is important for the school to celebrate international events and encourage students to share their own culture and traditions. This promotes a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming atmosphere where all cultures are valued and respected.

Integration Programs: Integration is crucial for expat children to feel at home in their new school environment. Therefore, a school should offer a variety of programs that help students feel connected to their school community. Additionally, the school should provide an array of extra-curricular activities covering a wide range of interests, enabling students to make new friends who share similar passions.

Learning Support: The school must provide adequate support to help students with various educational needs become confident and independent learners. By identifying the strengths and talents of each student, the school can fully embrace diversity and inclusion. Emphasizing diversity reflects the broader world in which we live, and compassion should be a hallmark of the school.

Overall, the school should strive for academic excellence while encouraging the discovery of unique talents and passions, thus inspiring intrinsically motivated and passionate young people. The ultimate goal is to ensure that every child can fit in and thrive within the school community.