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Emigration is never easy and can be even less so with the kids in tow! There’s an almost endless number of practical tasks such as finding a new home, locating a decent school and arranging the removal of your worldly possessions, in addition to a long list of administrative matters such as organising your tax and national insurance contributions or registering with the local council… and all this whilst grappling with an alien language. Yet moving abroad can also be an extremely rewarding event, especially for your children. Get it right and your little one will look back on it with fond memories for the rest of their lives.
Below are some useful tips for making your children’s emigration a resounding success.
Coax your children into learning more about their future home by reading books or by browsing the Internet together. There are a number of children’s books on the topic of emigration that might help answer some of their own questions or concerns.
And encourage them to start learning the language – children are fast learners and will often pick up a new language surprisingly quickly. Familiarise them with the language of your chosen destination by providing them with an online language course or a quality study book. Set aside a fixed time each week, that doesn’t coincide with their favourite TV programme, and tackle the new language together. The sooner your child masters the basics, the easier it will be for them to settle and make friends.
Take time to say ‘goodbye’ properly
Saying goodbye is extremely important, especially for children. Urge your children to tell their friends and classmates about your pending move as soon as possible – this way they’ll have plenty of time to mentally prepare and in the meantime benefit from their friends’ support. In the weeks leading up to your departure, arrange a farewell party, preferably in collaboration with their school. Many children find lasting comfort in a simple painting, collage or collective farewell card from their old classmates.
Help them to settle
During the first few weeks after your move, your children are likely to feel terribly unsettled. It’s vital that you make yourself available, no matter how busy you are taking care of the practicalities, to discuss their fears and concerns. Don’t forget that your children will have a lot on their plate too – such as making friends and starting a brand new school. You can help them by encouraging them to join a local sports club or by inviting their classmates home for tea. If your child is feeling particularly homesick, determine what it is that’s upsetting them and then try to find a solution together.
Remember, it’s perfectly natural for children to miss their family and friends after emigration. Encourage them to stay in touch via the Internet or by composing a letter or painting to send to their grandparents. It’s also nice to keep familiar traditions from home alive. Dutch children for example are most likely to miss the Sinterklaas celebration. These days resourceful Dutch parents get around this by surprising their kids with all of their favourite Dutch goodies ordered via an online Dutch supermarket, so that they needn’t miss out on the festivities. Remember, with the Internet, anything’s possible!
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then why not visit to our sister blog, heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad?