You might think that moving to the other side of the world is absolutely the best thing to do for your family – but your children may have a very different opinion, depending how old they are and how well established they are at school and within friendship groups.
However, as every sensible parent knows, (!), children don’t always know best, and sometimes they have to learn to do things that they don’t want to do for their own long term benefits. Of course, communicating this fact to a reluctant child is no fun at all!
So, in this article we’ll be covering preparing your children for emigration to Australia, so that you can begin getting them used to the idea and becoming positive about it from very early on. Ultimately you want to be able to properly prepare them for the transition into a new culture and way of life.
The bottom line is that the lifestyle achievable in Australia for children could hardly be better! The way of life is very outdoors centric, it’s based around good weather, lots of sports, socialising and embracing the natural landscape such as the beach and the sea. It’s a very different way of life for the majority of Britons who are lucky if they manage 7 days away by the sea a year. Therefore, hang on to this fact if you find yourself going through a battle of reluctance with your child when preparing them for living in Australia.
There’s a balance to be struck between preparing your child far enough in advance so that they are ready for the move, and getting them so hyped up and excited that they suffer a massive disappointment if you fail to get your visa to relocate! But hopefully you’ll be able to work steadily and consistently from the point at which you decide a relocation might well be in order, and move day!
If you yourself are not 100% certain that Australia is the right country for you, it may be that you plan a family vacation ‘down under’ first. At Degtev we always, always advocate that a would-be expatriate spends some time getting to know their proposed new nation. However, at the same time we appreciate the cost and logistics involved with taking an entire family on holiday to the other side of the world! If you can manage a holiday in Australia, try and make it as relaxing and positively pleasant an experience for your children as possible. If they associate Australia with a place where they had the time of their life, your job of convincing them you want to live there is going to be so much easier.
If you cannot afford the time or money for a fact finding trip, you will need to begin preparing your child for the concept of a relocation at about the point you apply for your visa. The logic behind this is that you will have gone through your own period of doubts and dilemmas prior to getting to the point at which you are ready to apply. Therefore you will have answered many doubts that your child may now raise. What’s more, a visa can take months – sometimes years – to come through, and even when it does arrive you usually have a good window of time to prepare the move. This means that you should have sufficient time to acclimatise your child to the thought of living in Australia.
Begin by highlighting all the positive aspects of the nation, the ways in which your child will likely benefit, each of these positives may be met by an equal but opposite negative such as missing friends, starting a new school, moving to a new house etc. Few children will appreciate just how far Australia is, so that’s quite a good thing! You can point out that it is such a popular country people will want to visit, they speak English in Australia, the summers are long and hot, the beach is likely to be nearby, outdoor activities are plenty and varied, Australians are well known for being friendly and welcoming.
You can also start to cultivate some sporting or social activities that your child can continue when they move. This might be getting them into a swimming or martial arts club in the UK for example, or involved with a drama or music group – basically some sort of activity that stimulates the child and means they are meeting their peers in a social environment away from school. This can then be smoothly continued in Australia. Next up you have to encourage your child to explore alternative angles of social networking – gone are the days of letter writing, nowadays children use facebook or bebo, they skype and text, email and poke! Whilst you may worry about the amount of time they spend at a computer, this time can be well structured and well spent keeping in touch with friends – and of course all of this activity can continue once you move to Australia.
As your child hopefully grows more responsive to the idea, get them involved with house hunting, get them interested in Australian soaps or sport on the TV – unless you’re a scary parent you’re unlikely to be able to persuade your children to sit down with a guidebook to Australia to learn all about the nation, but by showing them Australian life (in fictionalised form) on TV, you will be helping them to adjust. If you find pieces of information in books and on the internet that are interesting, make a note of them and mention the facts or information to your child when they are being receptive. Older children may be willing to do some of their own research.
Finally, you need to sort out schooling transition – and this can be difficult because seasons, terms and holidays are all the other way around in Australia. This means that it is highly likely your child will join half way through the school year and either need to fall back or jump forward. Most parents find that it is better that their child repeats half a year than is the youngest and least knowing in a class on day one. This is because they do not want to put their child at any more disadvantage than they already are as the new pupil! Once you’ve decided on where you’re going to set up home in Australia, find out which schools are in the catchment area and decide on one for your child. You can then get in touch with the school and discuss all your concerns with them.
What’s more, you can then get your child familiar with the school they will be going to. You can also visit the school once you arrive, giving the child a taster of it before they join once you have settled in. Again, more expatriate parents find that the sooner their child is in school and in a social group of their peers, the better…and no matter how hard it is to persuade your child that moving to live in Australia is the right thing to do, you’ll likely find they make the transition quicker than you and settle in and are happy very early on.