Saturday, May 30, 2009

The right Schooling

We can so easily make the wrong school choice for our children (even in our own countries), but when moving to a culturally different country this could be what either develops your child into having a positive attitude or not.
Let your child go to a school that will suite his/her personality. Will they develop better in a smaller or bigger school, a social / sporty or academic school, what is the vision of the school for the students, check, check and double check if your child will suite the style of the school. Perhaps home schooling is another option to look into. Children need to thrive and will do so if the school appropriately develops their strengths. Send them to a school where they teach in your child’s home language and have children around them with similar cultural backgrounds e.g. sending a Christian child to a Muslim school or vice versa, may create boundaries for that child. Sometimes you do not have an option e.g. there is only 1 school available, but then get involved with the school and teach your child about cultural diversity. It is not “bad” to let your child go to a different school to learn about the new culture or language, but make sure that the child has the type of personality that can cope with this diverse education, else in the long term it may be damaging to their growth. Look at all the options and if your child is old enough, discuss the options with them and let them help make the decision. Educating your child is not an option, they need to be educated but they can help decide where they will be happiest. Remember your child is not you! Where you may cope, he or she may not, his / her strengths are different to yours and respect that they are their own individuals.

Liz writes: I would seriously recommend sending your kids to a similar type size of school you are leaving, we went from a gorgeous little school to a private huge, pressure pressure school, the main focus was on the academics but not a holistic school. WORSE mistake, Nick went from a happy outgoing little boy to vomiting every day and getting nauseous when we drove past the school. NIGHTMARE the school offered no support only interested in bums in seats and $ in the bank.

Well it was sooo bad we contemplated going back to the country we had just come from (not home by the way), but gave a smaller school a go. Nick had counseling from the trauma, and is back to his old happy self ..... so my friends don’t get caught up in the hype but go with your gut feel.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Expat Kids - Being Open minded

Being Open minded:
In every case of becoming an expat, the circumstances you are going to experience are going to be different, even if you move within the USA, if you have not been brought up in the culture it is going to be an adjustment. Parents need to be open minded about a culture, to allow their children to be open minded about it too.

Denise says: I remember when we first moved to the Middle East we found the people drove like maniacs and we raise our arms like the ??? in the movie Madagascar and say “Look at me look at me I am a crazy local driver” and all roll around laughing. Eventually our kids were mimicking us and believed that all Middle Eastern people drove badly. We had to correct them on that and say, eventually everyone that lives here drives badly, it is just how it is here and somehow you adjust, even we drive badly now.
Monique says: Being an expat parent really depends on a lot of things, like where you are being posted, most of my postings have been to central African countries where food and medical care can be scarce, this can be stressful with younger kids and as a parent you need to be open minded and be prepared to adjust and change your way of thinking and learn many new skills, like administering medical aid, sometimes going as far as doing your own stitches on a screaming kid without pain killers.

Monday, May 18, 2009

You have to have a positive attitude as an Expat

Your attitude as the adult and parent is going to greatly influence how your children settle in the country and accept the move.
We can decide whether to be positive or negative about becoming expats. The more positive parent results in a well adjusted child who looks at the glass half, finds the positive in every situation and tries to adjust as much as you do.

The positives, in themselves, of living in a new and different environment so outweigh the negatives. We can start with that fantastical dream of living abroad (the “Out of Africa” experience or exotic India thoughts), this is an adventure for you and them and it needs to be embraced as such.
Perhaps it is the benefit of a better environment, climate, economic situation, better job opportunities and prospects, a better political situation, safer country iow less violence, the reason you have left your country of origin is your positive and this positive must be lived every day by the family.
What you and your family are achieving can be what your peers back home can only dream of ever achieving one day. Your attitude back then, when you were deciding to take this adventure, was one of hope and opportunity, of adventure and new beginnings and this is how this dream needs to be lived.

Trudie says : We saw this move as a wonderful opportunity to expose our children to the world and maybe broaden their horizons.
I was 36 weeks pregnant when we arrived and I was stressed beyond mention. Adjusting to this part of the world was the hardest for me. I gave up a whole support system at home to have a baby in a strange country and had to cope on my own- with just Craig by my side. For Matthew (8) coming to this part of the world is associated with so many wonderful things-he got to be with dad again (as Dad was always away when we lived at home). He finally got a sibling that we had been praying so hard for. And he got to go to a new school, make new friends and take up a combat sport-For Matthew life was grand.
Shirley says: I hated where we moved to with a passion. It was cold, wet, windy, the people were not as friendly as I thought they would be and it was a really hard and lonely time for at least a year. My first six months I told my husband that I could not handle this place and wanted to go home, but the thought of the crime back home and the safety of my children was more important for me and that was an absolute put off. I really wanted my children to be able to come and go as they wanted and not always worry about whether they would be safe, or if I had to drive them somewhere, would I get hi-jacked. It took me long time to stop hugging my handbag to my chest, to stop looking over my shoulder to see if I was been followed or whether someone was going to snatch my bag, to stop locking all my car doors and putting my handbag under my seat. That became a plus in my book and I had to really work hard to change my attitude and that is what I did.

I still miss my family and my friends, but I have made new friends here and it helps a lot. I don’t worry about locking my car door anymore or worrying about whether my bag is going to be snatched etc, it makes life more simple and therefore I just carry on with life and hope and pray for the best. My children are happy and that is what counts.

Each of these parents has had a positive attitude towards their circumstances, even if it did not start off as positive eventually expat parents realize that only their positive experiences can result in their children having a positive attitude too.

Is being an expat all about attitude?

Is being an expat all about attitude, and if so, does this have an immense influence on expat children and how they perceive their situation in this new environment?

If as adults we are so unsure about moving to another culture, how do you think our children are feeling?

The inevitable question is “Do we leave our comfort zone?”
What this question means is that we disrupt our lives, move away from everything we know and love, our home comforts, family and friends. And finally do we tear our children away from all the above? Inevitably they have the same concerns as we do…. And in the end, do they have the choice or a say in the move?

I can tell you this, in their minds they are asking questions like, can I adapt, will I be happy, how can Mom and Dad do this to me, will I make new friends, will I be accepted, will I be good enough and to top it all off they are leaving all their friends behind, just like you are.

More on this topic tomorrow....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Expat article

Thanks so much to everyone who has help to contribute towards the Expat article I am working on. Watch out for the article to be posted soon!