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How will your kids cope with migration?

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By David Dadic, Pathway Lawyers and Migration Agents

The process of migration can be overwhelming and scary for a host of reasons and factors. There is no doubt, however, that the most scary for a parent migrant is how their child or children will transition to a new country. All migrant parents, including myself, have spent many hours awake, fraught with concern and worry, not only about whether taking your child away from their birth country is the right decision, but also whether your child will happily adapt to a completely new and foreign environment.

As hard as it may be to believe, your children will probably surprise you with how quickly and easily they adapt to their new country – especially if they’re younger. For your peace of mind, and to make it ever easier for your kids to adapt, once you arrive there are a few things you can do to make the transition even easier:

(1) start a routine as quickly as possible – this helps provide continuity between the two countries, and can help bridge the gap

(2) Skype any friends your child wants to keep in touch with, and of course, Skype family members regularly – this can help your kids feel more connected, and should help them settle in more smoothly

(3) get your kid settled in a comfortable bedroom that makes them feel safe – once it feels like home, they’ll settle into the idea that they’re here for good, and not just on holiday

(4) encourage your child to make lots of new friends, which not only gets them (and you) to meet new people, but will also keep them busy if their struggling to settle in.

The ability of kids to make lots of new friends as quickly as possible is significantly improved by the fact that the Australian schooling system is such that most primary schools are suburban-based. Because of that, there is a strong sense of community built around the local school system, where kids and parents spend a lot of time together in the area, both in and out of the school environment. On any given day, you’ll see hordes of parents and children walking together to and from school in the mornings and afternoons. On the weekends, those same kids and parents will in all likelihood play for the same sports clubs, or spend time in the same local parks. There is a lot of communal interaction which significantly improves and fosters those personal relationships.

The adapting for South African children to the Australian school system is also made a lot easier by the fact that the Australian school system is similar in many respects to the South African system. The academic year is exactly the same, in that it commences during January and ends in December, and is also divided into four terms. The schooling years also commence in Grade R (Kindergarten) and runs through to Grade 12 (called Year 12). Albeit that the curriculums may be different in terms of the content taught, it generally isn’t difficult for a child in the same Grade in South Africa to transition to the same Year in Australia.

According to this article by US News & World Report, Australia is the 4th-best country in the world for education, based on two equally weighted country attributes, including a well-developed public education system. Importantly, Australian permanent resident visa holders enjoy the benefit of their children receiving a world-class public education in Australia for free.

Before you leave South Africa, your biggest fear will no doubt be that your children will struggle with the move. It’s impossible not to worry about such things, but your children will surprise you with how easily they settle in.

Pathway Lawyers & Migration Agents has advisors who are uniquely both RMAs and lawyers, so we are best placed to help you with each and every aspect of your move to Australia. Join our Facebook group, Migrating to Australia, where you can have all your questions answered. You can email us for a free consultation.

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