As of 2017 214,700 Singaporeans were living abroad, compared with 157,800 in 2004. And this trend is set to continue. So how do you settle your kids?

The move to a new country is hard enough on adults, but it’s even more difficult when you are bringing your children with you. Here are some easy ways to help your kids cope...

1. Bring familiar things over

Familiarity is comforting. Bring photos, teddy bears and favourite toys, bedsheets, pillows, bolsters or books that your kid is familiar with over so that they have something to remind them of home.

2. Find out about the new country

Make it a game to learn about your new “territory”. Buy books, read up on the internet and websites. Find out information such as where your new house will be located at, eating places, local produce, danger and safety information including healthcare providers, doctors and hospitals that will be within reach. Start telling your little ones stories about the kind of lifestyle they'll have there.
If you are relocating to a country that uses a language different from your native one, start learning simple phrases in the new language so you can teach your child to say "Hello" and "I am new".

3. Settling down in school

One of the most important elements of your child’s school life is making new friends. Be proactive about helping your child make friends once you settle down in a new country.

Before your child starts school, try and schedule time to speak to your child’s teacher and run through major topics that your child last learned at his school. This will give the teacher an idea of your child’s academic standard and learning style. Try inviting your neighbours’ kids over to play or arrange for playdates with your child’s classmates. It generally takes a few months for your child to settle down in a new school but in some cases, children might have difficulty coping with such major adjustments. You may need to seek support from professional help such as school counsellors or a psychologist.

4. Keep in touch with home

Keep regular contact with friends and family back home via Skype. Continue to share local traditions and culture from your home country with your child — perhaps you can help your child bring food or snacks from home to share with classmates. If show-and-tell is a thing, let them bring some cultural item often used at home. If you use a non-English language back at home, practice it with your child even when you settle down in a new country.

Photo: iStock

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