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Relocating abroad with kids

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Blundergus, Dec 19, 2019.

  1. Blundergus

    Blundergus New commenter

    Hi all,
    I'm looking for really positive stories from people who have moved abroad to teach and taken their kids with them. My boys are 5 and 7 and I think the experience would be great for ME, but I'm not sure how it would be for THEM!
    Thanks a lot!
  2. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    We moved in August 2017 with our then 7-year-old daughter and soon-to-be-5-year-old son to Spain. They'd already had quite a bit of exposure to Spanish (our daughter was born here). From my perspective, their lives are better here - better house, better school, better weather, more extra-curricular opportunities, more time spent outdoors and more time together as a family.

    From their perspective... well, I'm pretty sure my daughter prefers it here, while my son will occassionally come out with "I wish we could go back to England". But that's usually when he's annoyed with the homework... which would be no different in the UK (he was in Reception when we left). Both are on the autistic spectrum - pretty high-functioning, but it makes making friends difficult. This was always an issue for them, bit moving meant there were added hurdles of established cliques and language barriers which haven't helped there. My daughter's Spanish is superb now, but my son has become a bit of a refusnik, which is quite sad, and obviously doesn't help the friendship issues.

    All told, we've no regrets as parents and the kids are as happy as they were in the UK.

    I also grew up overseas as a child (0-4 in Yemen; 5-12 in Kenya). I loved it at the time, and look back with fondness and gratitude. Living overseas also made the UK seem glamourous - a fabled homeland that we visited as a special treat!
    Blundergus likes this.
  3. Oli_K

    Oli_K New commenter

    I've got 2 young kids, similar to you, we are doing it for them as much as us. Giving them the opportunities to travel, make them and us financially secure and to give them an education that wouldn't be able to afford.
    blitz18qb, Blundergus and 576 like this.
  4. 24hours

    24hours New commenter

    We have two kids 8 & 4. The eldest did not want to move out here (Europe) and after over a year has made little effort to learn the language which is disappointing.

    Prior to moving out here we were repeatedly told (and naively believed). That they’d be speaking the language in six months.

    In reality, because all the kids at the international school speak English there is little need.

    So unless your kids are outgoing and positive about moving abroad don’t presume they will be bilingual In a few years as it can take considerably longer.

    The first year was also incredibly hard for him settling in. This year is much better as he now plays football after school, but we’re still waiting/hoping for that first invite to a school friends house after school for him ☹️

    Consider where you’re going as well. As I have said, we’re in Europe at a school which is mostly locals.

    The parents are very nice but they have their own lives and families.

    A city with a large expat community maybe easier as everyone is away from home and in the same boat.

    Our four year old is in a local nursery and understands the language, but because she becoming bilingual her development in both is delayed. And in reality, if we move on next year or even after a third she’s unlikely to maintain a decent level of proficiency

    I don’t regret coming, but it’s been incredibly tough, particularly in the first year. For our eldest child I’m not sure I could pinpoint any real positives that have come from our stay here as yet for him
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2019
    Blundergus likes this.
  5. 24hours

    24hours New commenter

    Also, don’t presume the education is going to be better than in the UK just because it’s being paid for. There are some terrible schools on the international scene.

    I would rate my child’s state primary way above the school they are at currently
    Blundergus and worlo24 like this.
  6. taiyah

    taiyah Occasional commenter

    All positive experiences from my family's part. But we were pretty picky with the school we wanted to work in. The schooling of our children dictated where and which school we were going to work in.

    Admittedly, our eldest teenager at the time hated QA's lack of outdoors and sporting competitions. Was so miserable in year 7. We had to solve the problem. He elected to go to the same boarding school as his dad and uncles went to. This meant he had his cousins with him so his transition was very smooth. The other kids followed suit. It was tough for me at first but it was the right choice.

    Our learning in all of this? The international circuit provides plenty of opportunities and experiences for everyone... But if the school or the environment doesn't work for our children... No matter how lucrative, it's not worth it.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2019
    Blundergus likes this.
  7. mermy

    mermy Occasional commenter

    My son was 6 when we first moved, he is now 10 and we are on our second country.

    He is getting superb education in small classes, has made friends from all over the world, is learning different languages, has traveled more than many travel in their lifetime, is learning different cultures and the respect that goes with it, has a wider choice of after school clubs and is discovering new talents... I could go on. He loves it, we love it!

    BUT - you need to choose your school carefully. I turned down a job which would have been perfect for me career wise, but the school had a 75% local intake and the playground language would have not been English (school in SE Asia). He would have felt left out, especially at that age. Younger ones could adapt, but it would have not been fair at his age.

    So my advice is, yes, go for it and it can be an amazing experience for both you and your children when you find the right school.
    Blundergus likes this.
  8. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Well, mermy, I think that I have to disagree. Mrs Hippopotamus and I do not have any baby hippos, but while I was teaching in China there was a 10-year-old American boy in my class. He was a typical, all-American boy (blonde, blue eyes) and he won the Mandarin-speaking competition for all of Shenzhen. He was not bothered at all by the fact that the school was 95% local intake and he was very popular with all of his classmates. Although it was a British-curriculum school, I told him to use American spelling because it is a lot more logical. He thought that was funny, coming from an English teacher.
    Blundergus likes this.
  9. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    I was a single parent and took both of my children abroad first to Viet Nam then Qatar. Both had a wonderful experience. Both of my children have friends around the world and have now grown into young adults with a real world view of things. I am proud of them both.

    Be careful of the school you choose in ME. There are some real turkeys out there. If you are definitely taking sprogs do not accept a job in a school where they will not give you contact details of a parent/teacher in the school.
    Blundergus likes this.
  10. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yup. Plenty of really, really dreadful schools in the ME. Read the *** reviews and have a large bowl next to you.
    Blundergus and 24hours like this.
  11. Oli_K

    Oli_K New commenter

    Totally agree, that's were the research comes in, you need to research from a parent and teachers view.

    If that was the case for us, we would be off, that's the most important thing for us now.
    Blundergus and 24hours like this.
  12. Oli_K

    Oli_K New commenter

    That's from a teachers perspective, totally different as a parent, he may have looked happy at school, but it might have been totally different at home.
    Blundergus, 24hours and mermy like this.
  13. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    I didn't take my children with me (long story), but witnessed a number of families who did, over a 17 year period.
    On the whole I would say that the experience enhances them as balanced, well rounded, confident individuals - much more than living in Snodgrass-on-Sea will throughout their lives.
    The range of experiences that they will go through will do them good.
    The only caveat is if you work in a none-English school where they may have problems fitting in and adjusting. All of the schools I worked in were 'British' schools overseas, so had the British culture etc there. The only exception to this was a 'British' school in Cairo, which had a cohort of around 85% Egyptian, 15% British. The British children here did not seem to fit in so well and generally kept to themselves a lot more.
    Blundergus likes this.
  14. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    Having said that, my 15 year old daughter did join me for a short period in 2002/03 and she blossomed in the multicultural environment. Ironically, she had to go back to UK after a major incident in the country we were based in, forced the situation, she struggled a lot more. I know that, if she had stayed with me/overseas, her life would have vastly improved.
    Blundergus likes this.
  15. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    My sister brought 3 kids up and lived in a number of countries. Apart from the horrendous school she worked at in Spain that was stealing her tax returns she had an amazing time. Her kids are multi lingual, she actively avoided working in British schools for this reason. They are well grounded and have a great global perspective and out look on life.
    Blundergus and grdwdgrrrl like this.
  16. mermy

    mermy Occasional commenter

    Well, good on the lad. However you forgot one big issue - how long did it take him to become fluent in Mandarin? Probably many, many years, and probably he would have moved to China when he was young and picked it up with much more ease. Would you really take a 9 year old child to a country where they wouldn't know the language and be in a school with over 75% locals? My answers is clearly no, I wouldn't do this to my child. His happiness is just as important as mine.
    Blundergus and 24hours like this.
  17. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, my student's Mandarin really was good and he had worked terrifically hard to get to such a high standard. His mother was one of my colleagues. I think that the family had been in Shenzhen for three or four years, during which time his dad went off with a Chinese girl who fancied having a laowai husband. It happens a lot in the Middle Kingdom.
    Blundergus likes this.
  18. Redparrotfish

    Redparrotfish New commenter

    I find it interesting that you are only asking for 'really positive stories' Are you looking for information or validation?
    In all seriousness I have seen it go all ways. Some kids love it, some don't, some end up in therapy. Kids vary, in their likes, dislikes, their resilience, their love of adventure, their love of stability. Only you know them best. As others have said chose your school carefully, very carefully. This is not easy for a teacher newly on the international scene as the best schools tend to recruit those with experience on the circuit,but not always. Don't move every two years, don't promise utopia and don't drag the child away from the other parent if that parent is a good one. Listen to your child, think about what is important at that age, think about your own childhood and what you valued. There is no right answer but there's a few wrong ones.
    motorhomer, tb9605, YNWA1892 and 3 others like this.
  19. notreallyme75

    notreallyme75 Occasional commenter

    How do you know which are the right ones? Currently seen a role am interested in... Petroleum schools?
  20. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    A 'local' school experience is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Mrs M and I left UK for Latin America when our sons were 9 and 11. The school was almost 100% first language Spanish and in Secondary there was no language support programme for foreigners, though from term two the lovely HoD gave our eleven-year-old some help. The lad hoovered up the new language and sought every opportunity to use it. In my mind's eye I can still see him sitting on the front step chatting with the day vigilante. By term three he was a famous haggler in the local market and at the end of term three he passed the year ahead of quite a few of his hispanophone classmates. English was the language of instruction in Primary and our younger lad took more than two years to become really fluent in Spanish.

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