A school’s role in defining your definition of relocation

Did you know that the word relocation can provoke very different reactions in people?

Family examining a globe
For some people, it can mean a positive, adventurous and fun overseas assignment with much to look forward to; whereas others view an overseas relocation as a challenge due to the concerns it raises, including changes in children's education and cultural adaptation. It is these challenges that may be behind the rise in the figure of employees turning down overseas assignments 1.For expatriate families, finding the right school is one of the biggest challenges they have to face. The best international schools understand this parental anxiety and do much to support the children as well as their families through the smoothest possible transition. Relocating is an inherent part of an international school after all, no matter where they are located in the world.Research has shown that finding the right school determines the happiness and welfare of the children (and families as a whole 2). Therefore, the international school community plays a crucial role in this process. In other words, the school is considered a key to settlement and contentment in a new overseas life.Nowadays, international schools offer a wide range of choices to ensure that their pupils receive the help they need, whether it is through offering education consistency or supporting wellbeing issues they may experience as part of the relocation process. From a social perspective, international schools help relocated children and parents feel part of a community. One of the most popular methods to combat feelings of isolation within a school is to pair the recently relocated children with another pupil who has shared similar experiences. Connecting parents to a well-organised parent teacher association also helps them to feel a sense of friendship and comfort in their new environment.All parts of the school community must be involved to make this settling in process successful. A school's leadership team, teachers, parent groups and pupils are all key ingredients in this. David Tongue, Headmaster of Brighton College Bangkok, and a veteran of several overseas moves with his young family shares some examples of successful transition activities:
• Sending out new parent guides to the school and location in advance
• Having a specific new parent liaison member on the Parent Group
• Holding cultural transition seminars including local language classes
• Providing opportunities for new parents and families to meet
• Running support groups, both via social media and face to face (in English and home languages)
• Providing a buddy system for pupils
• Mentoring of new pupils by a peer or teacher
• Developing excellent pastoral programmes such as Brighton's unique house system
• Providing volunteer opportunities for parents
It is of utmost importance however that parents choose a school that offers the right fit for their own children – a place where they will thrive and flourish, regardless of where others in the same company may have gone before.Kim Meaden-Kendrick, Registrar of Brighton College Bangkok, shared with us her experiences in assisting relocating families. In her opinion, finding suitable housing and schooling are the two most important factors in supporting a successful relocation. She has helped many families find suitable homes and her support has stretched all the way to helping find the right hairdressers! She suggests that relocation can start even before the family moving overseas. For example, the school can put pupils in contact with class blogs and /or social media, as well as sending parents detailed curriculum information so every member of the family knows what will be studied in advance, which can decrease the level of any new school-related anxiety.International schools undoubtedly are the focal point of relocation. The school staff play a large part in making the transition process successful. With proper support from schools and relocation professionals, combined with an eagerness to experience change, moving and settling into a new country and culture can be an enjoyable experience.It's time to let the adventure begin!
David Tongue, headmaster Brighton College, Bangkok
David Tongue, Headmaster, Brighton College, Bangkok
Content provided by Brighton College Bangkok, a member of the Brighton College family of schools.
References:
1: http://www.figt.org/relocation_trends/
2: http://www.acs-schools.com/Relocation-Professionals-Overview
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