Expat kids: The first school day

The first school day is a big day, with a lot of expectations and uncertainties around what the next months are going to be like. For expat children, this day might be a little more special, as they will have to get adjusted to a new environment, new class and even a new language of instruction. How can you prepare your child for this “big day”?


1)    Make sure your child knows the basics

Children may be extremely shy in unfamiliar environments. Therefore, make sure he or she is familiar with the most important locations and routines. Where is the toilet? How is the lunch handled? What does the daily schedule look like? What is the teacher name? 

One of the best things to do – whenever it's possible  is to have a formal tour and orientation around the facilities, before starting school. In this way, your child can get familiar with the environment, get to know the teacher and ask questions – if not during the tour, when he or she arrives home.


2)    Prepare your child for the differences


Does your child need to wear a uniform? Is the swimming class compulsory for everyone? Are there some school trips planned as part of the curriculum? Try to talk about the differences between the previous and the new school with your child and introduce them as an opportunity to discover another culture. Pointing them out in advance and presenting them in a positive way will help your child to adjust to the new environment.


3)    Check that you haven't forgotten anything!

Books, stationery, uniform… There are so many things to remember on the first school day, that you can easily forget something. In order to avoid this, make a checklist in the weeks before the first day and go through it the night before "the big day", so you can double-check that you are not missing anything. Imagine if your child doesn’t have their snack on the first morning...