Top Tips: Preparing Children for a Move Abroad

My children are 13, 9 and 3 so resources for different ages are explained here.

Researching together

Ask them to research on internet a specific topic, such as the weather, landmarks, activities, places to visit, etc.; this may help them feel they own the process of moving as well as feeling involved in discovery new things.

Maps

Put a map up in the house of where you will go. When we have travelled abroad we have always had a map up before our trip to show the kids our itinerary. We also have a world map in the house so that the children are familiar with places we have been, come from and can talk easily, with this visual aid, to guests.

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Toys and special objects

I am not a huge fan of saying you must be purchasing expensive toys as I feel the message here for the children is about the future experience and the adventure. A few books about the new country can help talking about the future adventures and understand the country’s culture, history and sceneries.

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Puzzles with a map, animals and places to visit, can be very helpful to initiate conversations about the new country. It can help children in getting to know the country and area they will move to, understand the geography, states and capitals, culture, etc.

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Small teddies can be great anchor points to initiate conversations and also be a comforter. Yes it can help for younger children but I have found that some simple toys also help the older ones. In a conversation, it is just that language is more complex and extended compared to language used with a younger child.

  • “look this is a kangaroo”: with a three year old, you may say look at the tail, the baby in the tummy, demonstrate how it hops; with a thirteen year old, you may say let’s have a look at their habitat on internet, where can you find them, will we see some where we will live, reproduction systems, and extend the conversation that way.
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Having anchor points like this in the house may help children play with each other, allowing the older ones to play with the younger children with those toys, use terms and language present in their future country. The older children can also read the story books to the younger children or look at maps together. Great time spent together!

Travelling books 

Initially, we did not know much about Australia, I had never been myself, and my husband only once. We had heard lots about it but in terms of geography, weather, culture. We had some Australians along the way. I have to admit I felt deskilled and ignorant about the country. The  children kept asking lots questions and I kept saying “I don’t know”. I eventually purchased a couple of travelling books so that we could read about the country and refer to the books quickly. Yes internet has most of the information nowadays but I felt that reading a book together on the sofa brings a different dimension to the experience. When we travelled to different countries, I have always bought a travelling book so that we have that book with us in the car and the plane. It helps with bookings, places to visit and places to eat. It’s also great and exciting to prepare a trip and a move using a travelling book, it makes it real and visual for the children. When they ask questions, you refer to the book. It gives them the opportunity to learn how to research and search for information, giving them a sense of curiosity and thirst for learning.

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