In a globally intertwined country with a booming economy and an emerging industry, many families find themselves relocating to the United Arab Emirates. When these families have children of school-going age, the children are enrolled in a school unfamiliar to them in a foreign land. This momentous change can oftentimes lead to the formation of stress and anxiety in children. And although this can be the case, parents can take a series of steps in order to minimize these transitional discomforts and ensure the academic, social, and personal success of their child in their new environment.
One such step is to make yourself familiar with the community of professionals present in your child’s school. Making an effort to find out who it is in the school that can be a resource for you and your child can go a long way in helping your child settle into their new setting. This can include the principal and front office personnel; school psychologist, counselor, and social worker; the reading specialist, speech therapist, and school nurse; and the after-school activities coordinator. Don’t be afraid to share information about your family that may be relevant to your child’s success at school.
Darren Gale, the Principal of Al Yasmina School, a Band A Rated international school in Abu Dhabi, weighing in on the matter, commented, “At Al Yasmina School, as well as at all Aldar Academies institutions, integrating incoming students into our lively communities and making them feel a part of our family is of high priority. Across Aldar Academies’ five schools in Abu Dhabi and one in Al Ain, there are children from 71 nationalities with numerous first languages, cultural differences and special needs. We embrace this diversity and actively encourage our students at every stage to learn from each other’s differences.”
As obvious as it may seem, a step that can often be overlooked in the hustle and bustle of a move is to let your child know you care. Remind them that it is normal to be a nervous anytime you start something new but that they will be just fine once they becomes familiar with classmates, teachers, and their school routine. Share any anxieties that you might have about starting a new job or living in a new place and walk them through how you are dealing with these issues. This way, they can see how you cope with similar stress.