Adjusting your kids to the UK
Moving overseas is a big change for the entire family. Children certainly feel this impact as they leave behind familiar schedules, classrooms, friends and neighborhoods. Here are ways to make the transition as smooth as possible for your kiddos.
The importance of routines in child development should not be understated. Establishing routines will help children handle the additional emotional and environmental changes as you get settled.
- Set sleeping schedules right away.
- Rehearse school or day care routines.
- If possible, take your children to their daycare or school to meet caregivers or teachers in advance.
- Make sure your routine includes time for your children’s favorite activities.
INVOLVE YOUR KIDS
Include your children throughout the transition. Even for toddlers, give them tasks and roles to instill a sense of responsibility and increase self-confidence.
- Let them help unpack and give them freedom to organize their living space.
- Schedule social time with classmates and new neighbors.
- Sign your children up for after-school activities.
- Contact Youth Programs or School Liaison Officer (SLO) to request a youth sponsor.
EXPLORE THE U.K.
Maintain an enthusiastic outlook about your arrival, even if you are having doubts. Your children will look to you a great deal during this transition. If you’re upset, they will be too.
- Eat meals on the economy, attend local fests and learn about British traditions. Address the differences between life in the U.K. versus back home, but move conversations in a positive direction. Your children will gain an appreciation for diversity while exploring.
- Explore the best of Europe by letting your children assist in trip planning, researching and selecting sites or activities they would enjoy.
- Take photos and work together to create scrapbooks, photo albums, calendars, collages and other creative projects.
REMAIN IN TOUCH WITH LIFE BACK HOME
While adjusting to everything new, don’t forget about life back home. Set regular video chat or phone call dates with family and friends. If your children are allowed online, encourage them to utilize social media and email to stay in touch with friends or have them send postcards from the destinations they visit. Continue the traditions that are important in your family, while creating new ones during your time overseas.
EXPECT AN ADJUSTMENT PERIOD
Give your children time to process all of the changes, both good and bad, that come with their new environment. Be aware of expat child syndrome, a psychological condition that typically occurs in children ages 10 to 15 and can lead to isolative or unruly behavior.
- Adolescent Support and Counseling Services (ASACS)
- Family Life Counselors (MFLCs) - Free non-medical sessions with child behavioral specialists are anonymous and may occur in individual, couple, family or group settings.
- Military OneSource - 12 free sessions may occur in individual, couple, family or group settings.
There are three types of schooling options for your children:
- Department of Defense Dependent Schools Education Activity (DODEA)
- British Education System
It’s important to seriously consider and weigh all options to ensure your children are placed in the right education system that bests meets their needs.
- Enrollment requirements: www.dodea.edu/registration-process.cfm
- Documentation needed:
- PCS orders
- Age verification (birth certificate or passport)
- Child’s transcripts
- Immunization records
If you are considering the option of sending your child to a British school contact the SLO for frequently asked questions and information that will help you make a decision as there are many things to consider.
- American holidays are not granted off.
- You can be fined if you take your children out of school for holidays unless discussed in advance.
- School year starts early Sept. and ends mid-July.
- Uniforms are required.
Home schooling is open to all SOFA sponsored active-duty military, DOD civilians and contractors. Parents who choose to homeschool have the option to include their children in DODEA-Europe’s extra curricular activities provided at the school on base. Contact your SLO for more information and to connect with homeschool groups.
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