Starting a new life in a new country is difficult at any age. For children, who might not have much say in the move, there is plenty to be excited about, but also a lot of worry about such a huge change. Here’s what you should know in advance of your move and some tips to help the children feel excited, instead of upset.
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Do your homework
Moving abroad with your family is an enormous commitment. Make sure that know what you’re getting into by doing your research well in advance. Do your homework on your new country so you know what to expect, and what you will need to do. Line up any contacts you will need, like healthcare help for ex-pats or an immigration lawyer. Don’t wait until you arrive to make these contacts.
Discover the benefits for ex-pat families
There are lots of resources that can help you learn about childcare and education options in different countries. For example, Sweden offers 480 days of paid parental leave, as well as compensation from the social services system if you need to take time off work to look after an unwell child.
Scandinavian countries are known for having affordable childcare and education, which is perfect for raising clever, bilingual children. Other countries have similar benefits.
Look after your health
There’s a lot to get organized when you move, and figuring out how the healthcare system works in your home can easily get knocked off the top of the list. However, when you have children, it’s important to get this done. In many countries in Europe, children are treated for free, thanks to state-subsidized health systems.
Remember too that it will be essential to be able to communicate in a medical situation, but you might not always be able to find an English speaking doctor. Look for healthcare plans that cater for ex-pats, which will allow you to use a virtual doctor service to speak to a medical professional who speaks your language over the phone or a video call.
Make them feel involved
Whatever the reason is for the big move, whether for a new job or just to experience a change of culture, make sure you help your children to feel involved in the decision as much as possible. Show them photographs of where you will be living, and tell them all the good things about your new area. Explore the new town using Google Maps. Point out the landmarks and fun places that you can see when you get there.
Learn new words
Learning a second language as an adult is not easy, but children are very fast learners and children who have the option to learn two languages often have a higher IQ. Before you go, start learning the language together.
Use language apps to learn a few words and phrases every day as a family. Make learning a game by learning nursery rhymes or children’s songs in other languages, or by choosing words in your new language that sound funny to your children.