Children under the age of five are much more likely to adapt and get along in a new environment than older children. In new environments when the language might be foreign, children are still able to rely on their non verbal messaging to communicate, unlike adults.
If you’re an expat or considering moving your family abroad, the education and welfare of your child will naturally be one of the biggest deciding factors. As we’ve already mentioned, children of a young age adapt more effortlessly into new environments, they’re also a great way to meet and engage with new people. In turn, there are serious, practical considerations to re-starting or enrolling your child in a pre school abroad, for example, potential language barriers.
Managing Communication With The Pre School
A concern for many expat parents is communication with teachers and educators when enrolling their children in schools abroad. However, for pre school aged children, this can often be managed with technology. For example, choose a pre school that employ learning journal management software or file sharing tools. This will allow parents access to images, videos and media-rich snippets of their child’s day at school. Moreover, any updates or notices can be written and then translated into your chosen language online. This way, you’re able to glean insights into how your child is getting on without being a master of the local language.
Always Ask For A Viewing
Regardless of reviews, recommendations and lists of facilities, you should never enroll your child in a pre school you have not viewed. This may be an inconvenience if you are planning to enroll before you arrive in your new country, but is a necessity for your child’s satisfaction. Regardless of the language barrier, a viewing will enable you to see you child in the setting and get a feel for how they will be treated, for example, are there other bi-lingual or non-native speaking children, how many staff are on hand to assist, has your child felt comfortable enough to play or get involved?
Many parents also ask pre schools if they are able to get in touch with any existing parents. It would be best if you could speak to any expat families to understand their experience of the school.
Consider The Local Systems and Legislation
In many countries, the formal school system does not start until around the age of 6 or 7. Whereas at this age in the UK, a child is likely to already be a couple years into primary school. Reverting back to an informal-play-based environment could be a huge adjustment for a child. In turn, the opposite could apply.
Investigate the local legislation and options to minimize and streamline the adjustment period for your child. Many countries do not enforce nursery or pre school, which would allow you to put your child into private nanny care or allow them to stay at home until they are ready to start school. Of course this depends on your circumstances, but it is worth considering that this may deprive them of the opportunity to adapt and get a grasp on language at their most susceptible age.
Pros and Cons
Each destination will be different with how they approach childcare and early years education. There are very practical ways to ensure you can manage your child’s transition to a new environment, but it will all depend on knowing your child’s personality and the systems you are able to put into place.