If the thought of relocating to Shanghai with your kids in tow sends a shiver down your spine, you can relax. The vast majority of children that relocate overseas handle the relocation better than their parents. A big part of this is that international schools are experts at welcoming in the new crop of kids from all over the world every year. From start to finish, your child’s school year will be designed to help them adjust and find their way.
Children are resilient, often more so than their parents think they are or are themselves. This is particularly true for young children not yet attending school. Lacking external social bonds, children of this age are primarily concerned with environment as it concerns their world. Toys, bed and other furniture may hold special meaning and be the cause of anxiety if they are taken away. If you can, bring as much of your child’s furniture as you can. If you have the luxury of having your shipment arrive before or at the same time as you, packing so your child’s belongings are easily found is a good idea, as it will allow you to have your child in a familiar and comfortable environment quickly.
For the most part, the difficulties school-aged children will experience during your relocation are directly relative to the strength of the social bonds they have at school and in the community. If a high school romance is being interrupted, certainly you can expect more drama. What was historically true however, does not necessarily hold true in the age of social media.
Adolescents and young adults today are so thoroughly and intricately connected through social media that physical proximity to their peers for the purposes of interaction is not really necessary. If your teenager is active on social media, there will likely be less separation anxiety than there would have been 10 years ago when the technology was in its infancy. What is more likely is that your child will see a surge in popularity on social media and that may cause some general distraction or complete obsession depending on their habits under normal circumstances. The book is being written now on the effect social media is having on child psychology so if firm answers is what you are after, then you will be disappointed. It’s highly unlikely you are going to find a consensus viewpoint among online sources.
If your child is active in sports, taking that into account when choosing a school will helm them to adjust. Being part of a sports team provides a ready-made support network for children and short-term concerns like the game next week or practice tomorrow, which help direct energy in a positive direction.
If your child doesn’t play sports, there is a vast array of after school and weekend programs for children of all ages from your school as well as a variety of community organizations and sports schools. Needless to say that martial arts schools abound as do music schools as well as English schools.
If it’s possible, take a class or start a program with your children when you arrive. The time spent together in the context of the move to Shanghai will help strengthen bonds or improve ones that were in need of care. Most certainly plan a trip to the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum in People’s Square in the late afternoon so when you come out the lights of the square will provide a memorable backdrop for selfies. While its name does not suggest imminent excitement, the Urban Planning Museum is a must see for newcomers to the city. The perfect scale model of the entire city is mesmerizing.
There are a number of interesting day and weekend trips that you can undertake in the Shanghai area but you should note that your child’s school will have many of them on their schedule as field trips during the school year. Getting out ahead and cherry picking the most interesting one for an early family outing could be wise.
The experience of relocating with children should be seen as an opportunity to share a formative and positive experience together as a family rather than a source of potential problems. The road is well travelled and the world is more connected than ever, which means you and your children are never far away from friends and family.