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How to tell the DCs we are moving abroad?(11 Posts)
DH has accepted a 2-3 year contract to work in the Far East and will move there in March. I will follow with DCs (5 and nearly 7) at the end of this school year (though we will go out at Easter for a visit/school assessments). They will be swapping rural peace and quiet for high rise big city living and a tiny village primary for a large international school. We want to tell them the basics tomorrow, and expect some disquiet from the children. Maybe we are worrying unnecessarily, but 5yo DS in particular hates change and spends holidays asking when we can go home. What should we tell/not tell them at this stage? I have written down the positives we want to say (including: we will be coming back to the same house afterwards, you can take all your things, stay in touch with friends and family, do all the things you do at home, the school does the same school work etc), but don't want to overload them with info at this stage. I would be very grateful for any pointers from those who have done this.
I didn't go for a big announcement with mine (3 and 5). DH did a few trips to the country we are now in, so we talked about it, Skyped him, chatted about what he was doing, looked at it on the map, then I came out for a visit, by which point they were quite interested, and so I said, next time I go, you'll come with me.
And then we gradually talked about how we'd stay for a long time, new school, new friends, then coming back to the UK for visits, someone else looking after our house while we are away, family visiting in their holidays etc.
So it was a much more gradual process. I think children are quite accepting of things - if you make it a big thing, with a big announcement, they are more likely to react.
If you introduce the idea of the new country, then work up to introducing the move as a more permanent arrangement, and mention each change that will happen individually as it arises in conversation/life - eg when you buy school bits here, talk about the 'new' school uniform etc - it is much easier for them to process.
I waited until they asked about the school, new country etc, so were either interested or wanting reassurance, before showing them specific info like the school brochure and website. But I thought it was better to be led by them asking than me presenting lots of hard info about their new life and expecting them to automatically be delighted.
But having all the positive arguments lined up ready is good, as they tended to ask questions when I wasn't expecting it! So they were clearly turning it over in their minds. But I did also balance those with the reality - 'so granny won't be up the road anymore but she'll come on a plane for her holidays!' etc.
Can you go for a more breezy approach to the whole thing? You know, 'we're going to go on an amazing adventure and it will all be so easy and fun. won't it be great to have your new friends over for tea on wednesdays just like you do here'. Any worried thoughts you have will transfer to your kids.
I have been on the other end of this several times, with my parents telling me we were moving overseas. It was a lot better the times when they pretended it was all excellent
Don't focus on the coming back part - it isn't helpful and makes this new adventure seem like something you have to "endure" before "coming back home". If you are relocating for more than a year, you will have a new home (although to our kids - also expats - home is where your family is).
Make it breezy and let them ask questions, don't try to make it sound like a huge deal and don't bombard them with a "sales pitch" - they'll see straight through it.
Focus on the positives of the new place - swimming every day, attractions in the new place, new bedroom that you can decorate how you like etc etc. If you are happy, your kids will be too - if you are stressed and anxious, your kids will be too.
Where are you going? We're in Singapore, relocated with a 3.5 year old and me 6 months pg - now have a 2.5 and a 6.5 year old.
I think we started with or 2.5 year old talking about the weather of all things: "oooh, it's so cold here, I wished we lived somewhere I didn't have to put gloves on to go out" etc
agree with other posters
We moved last August (dcs were 8 and 6) and there was no big sit round the table thunderclap dun dun durr talk
Ease the subject in gently
dcs went from a school with 170 pupils to one with 1400 pupils and have settled in, made new friends and not a tear shed between them.
Accentuate the positives, ask your DH to bring some tourist literature back to show your DC.
We've moved four times since DD was born, the first she didn't remember but the last three she does.
We have found it best to focus on the good things, new house, school, friends, swimming every day etc.
Good luck, it is a major upheaval and me and DD are doing it the other way round in July.
Thanks so much everyone for this very helpful and constructive advice, and we have now told them the basics and shown them a few pictures. DD (nearly 7) was immediately excited and DS (5.8) was a bit upset at the thought of a new school (not surprising after just one year at the current one) but they both seem fine now. Lollypolly we will be in KL - so not too far from you. Words great to hear yours settled down without a tear - I do hope we can manage the same. Next step is a week or so there at Easter to see DH and have a look round.
Can I ask a supplementary question about assessment tests for International Schools, if any of you have been through that - (a little daunting since ours have never taken so much as a spellling test, but hey). I am sure all these schools are different but does anyone know what sort of things they will be expecting at KS1 level - the schools themselves were rather vague when we asked?
Hi latermater, great to hear they took it well. Kids are very resilient, and they WILL be fine.
I have no experience of international schools, so can't answer that one for you sorry!
Just wanted to add though, while your DH is there, it'd be great if could send lots of postcards to your DC. My dad did this and then we would get all excited looking up the places on them in the atlas (probably the internet now!), talking about how we could actually go there ourselves etc.
I think you've had a great response from them. Mine are younger and don't actively "miss" England as they cannot remember it, but they are always being asked by teachers if they go back, what they miss etc so it has become a minor issue. I have dealt with this by saying home is where we are together, as a family, its not a place. Hope vaguely helpful.
Middle East not KL but dcs are at an international school so hope this helps:
Don't get to stressed about entry tests.Its mainly to check they can keep up/understand English (aimed at children who have English as a 2nd language)
Would imagine they will have asked for school reports and they've pretty much made up their minds if they'll take you.
Admissions officer at dcs school as good as admitted that when you're having the informal "chat" and look around the school they're concentrating on your childrens behaviour: kids opening doors/looking interested/asking questions : not the parents.
Not so subtle stuff but watch out for the 3 chair trick (this happened on 3 out of 4 walk arounds)
Three chairs (mum/dad and two children) Where do the kids sit ?(if they share the chair and do the proffered colouring in and sit quietly yor're fine..any hint of squabble and your form is in the recycling.
Never had to do any assessments for school entry, DH is a teacher so DD always goes to his school.
I do know that they are as someone else said, assessing english (cynically, they can charge extra for ESL support) and the ability to fit in.