Adjusting your kids to the UK

Adjusting your kids to the UK

by Stripes Europe
Stripes Europe

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 sleep schedules right away.
  • Rehearse school or day care routines.
  • If possible, take your children to their day care or school to meet caregivers or teachers in advance.
  • Make sure your routine includes time for your children’s favorite activities.


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 up for after school activities.
  • Contact a School Liaison Officer (SLO) to request youth sponsors.


  • 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.


While adjusting to everything new, don’t forget about life back home. Video chat or call family and friends. If your children are allowed online, encourage them to use 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.


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) are available at middle and high schools.
  • Military Family Life Counselors (MFLCs) are available at CYP, AFRC, or at DoDEA schools: Free non-medical sessions with child behavioral specialists are anonymous and may occur in individual, couple, family or group settings.
  • Military OneSource - twelve free sessions may occur in individual, couple, family or group settings.
  • School Liaison Office (SLO) assists in finding additional resources on your installation.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Overseas

The DoD offers the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Overseas program to eligible active duty military members, DoD civilians and contractors, and family members stationed overseas. Participants include pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children up to the age of 5 years.

The WIC Overseas program provides:

  • Individualized nutrition and health screenings
  • Breastfeeding education and support
  • Referrals to other community services
  • Nutritious supplemental foods

To see if you qualify for services, please contact your installation’s office.


There are three types of schooling options for your children:

1.  Department of Defense Dependent Schools Education Activity (DoDEA)

2.  British Education System

3.  Homeschooling


DoDEA schools accept enrollments throughout the year to accommodate military families.

  • Eligibility and Enrollment requirements:
  • Registration can be initiated online, however, you will need to complete the process in person. You do not need to be  in permanent housing in order to register
  • Documentation needed:

  - PCS orders

  - Birth certificate or passport for kindergarten or first time in public school

  - Transcripts or report cards, as applicable

  - Immunization records

British SCHOOLing

If you are considering enrolling in a British school for any duration of your tour in the U.K., it is highly encouraged to speak to a school liaison. There are many differences to consider before educational decisions are made. A few differences are listed below.

Key differences:

  • The British school calendar does not match up with U.S. holidays and USAFE Family Days.
  • Repeated absences even for mild sickness or medical appointments have serious consequences up to £1,000.
  • School year runs from early September to late July.
  • Transportation is not typical.
  • Report cards are infrequent and letter grades are typically not given.
  • Uniforms are required at all schools.


While in the U.K., families fall under the U.S. federal regulations on home schooling rather than any particular state. You are not required to register with the installation or any state agency. However, it is highly recommended to follow the guidance of a state and use an accredited home schooling program to ensure transferability of credits. Many resources and co-ops are available for you. Please contact the school liaison office for more information.


The Child Development Center’s (CDC) mission is to assist Department of Defense (DoD) military and civilian personnel in balancing the competing demands of the accomplishment of the DoD mission and family life by managing and delivering a system of quality, available and affordable programs and services for eligible children birth through 5 years of age.

  • The CDC provides care for ages 6 weeks to 5 years of age.
  • The CDC is not only certified by the Department of Defense, it is accredited by the National Association of Education for Young Children (NAEYC).
  • The CDC undergoes extensive inspections on a monthly basis for fire, health and safety and also an annual multi-disciplinary inspection and an unannounced Higher Headquarters Inspection.
  • The program recently underwent a NAEYC reaccreditation visit which is due every 5 years.
  • CDC Programs Waiting List:
  • The School Age Program offers care for children ages 5 to 12 years.
  • Before School, After School, Winter Break, Spring Break and Summer Camps are also offered.
  • The staff utilizes their skills to create and design each classroom environment based on the needs of the youth.

Subscribe to our Stripes Europe newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, helpful PCS tips, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Europe
Pinterest: Stars and Stripes Europe
Instagram: @StarsandStripeseurope

Related Content

Recommended Content

Around the Web