Many expat families move to Beijing with children. It’s important to understand what impact this move will have on your children. The needs and concerns of children faced with relocating vary greatly depending on their age and the destination of the move. With older children and teenagers, psychological and emotional needs are the priority, whereas babies and toddlers have more basic requirements such as physical comfort during the transition. Young children will generally feel safe and comforted as long as they’re in the presence of their parents; however, a major worry for them is being left behind, It’s therefore important that, no matter what age your child, you communicate with them effectively. The move must not come as a surprise and you should introduce the subject as early as possible.

As a parent, your role is to encourage communication, providing comfort and emotional support. Your children may experience a whole range of emotions, including anger, sadness, relief and excitement. You will need to help them through this emotional battlefield and allow them to express their fears and concerns openly. It can be beneficial to hold regular family meetings where you all discuss your feelings, questions and worries. Once children feel respected and listened to, they become more open to discussing the positive aspects of the move.

General Hints for Making the Transition

  • Encourage children to learn about the new country in advance
  • Provide children of all ages with a special address book and stationery for keeping up with old friends
  • Email is a cheap way to maintain daily contact with friends in home country
  • Take video and photos of the new home and area if your children are unable to see them before the move
  • Arrange to visit new school and meet teachers before the actual first day of school
  • Give children things they can so to feel involved in moving, such as packing up toys, books and clothes
  • Explore your new area with the whole family as soon as possible

How to Select International School

School plays a massive part in a child’s life. It’s where they spend most of their day, make friends and develop their academic and social skills but how to choose the right school for your child? Today there are over 30 international schools in Beijing. How do you choose the right one?

Look for accreditation from bodies such as the Council of International Schools or the Western Association of School and Colleges. For High Schools, Check the students’ results in externally set exams and inquire about their university offers. As about their qualifications and the average length of time they stay at the school. A fast staff turnover raises questions about quality. Location is also important, especially when your kids are younger - sending your three-year-old on the school bus for an hour a day isn’t ideal. If you are planning on relocation to Beijing, it’s worth considering that some schools have several campuses. Size also matters. Schools with lot of students, such as ISB and WAB, generally have more subjects, but your child may feel more at home in a smaller school like BISS. If your child has mild leaning difficulties, such as dyslexia or ADHD, they may be better off at larger schools. WAB has specially trained support staff for this purpose. Whereas parents with children with severe leaning and behavioral difficulties are specifically catered for at Care for Children, Beijing’s only special-needs school for foreign children.

Your intended length of stay in China will affect your decision. If your kids are young and you plan to return home soon, you’ll probably choose a school that sticks to your native country’s curriculum. For Chinese nationals, or those with older children, establishments teaching the International Baccalaureate (IB) are a good option, as the IB allows them to apply to prestigious universities across the globe. Another consideration is the school’s approach to bilingualism. In YCIS primary section, there are two teacher in every classroom – one native Mandarin speaker – allowing children to learn both language simultaneously. In YCIS Secondary, Students receive six English lessons and five Mandarin lessons each week. Most of the international schools in Beijing cater for non-Anglophones with additional English as second language tuition, but a few insist on a minimum standard of English before enrolment.

here’s more to school life than just learning. Each school offers a different range of extra-curricular activities, so if your kid has a particular passion, do your homework. ISB, for example, has two full-time football coaches and a baseball diamond, while Dulwich College has a golf driving range on its Legend Garden campus. The British School is used as Beijing’s center for ABRSM music examinations and keen thespians will enjoy performing in the Canadian International School of Beijing’s 500-seater auditorium, or BCIS’s outdoor amphitheater. Parents who harbor political ambitions for their kids will be pleased to hear that many of the international schools hold debating contests, while the green-minded should check out WAB’s environmental center and Harrow’s eco-farm. Most schools also encourage their pupils to engage in community work. Apart from such activities, students’ lives can also be enriched through the schools’ pastoral care provision.

There is only one way to know if a school is really right for your child – pay a visit. You will only know if the school fits by taking a tour and asking the right questions. Don’t be content with being shown the most attractive facilities – insist politely on being taken into classrooms to see for yourself the quality of teaching. Visiting in the morning when kids are most likely to be engaged in ‘core’ subjects and to look carefully at the classroom dynamics. It’s also helpful to take your child with your and ask them how they feel about the school. And finally, remember that first impression can be deceptive, so always go back for a second look.

Tips for Finding Right Kindergarten

The most important aspect when considering a pre-school is that parents are happy with their choice. As a rule, if parents trust the pre-school with that they choose, their kids will settle in well. Pay attention to the following: Low child-to-teacher ratios, good communication between teachers and families, a safe and engaging environment, enthusiastic teachers and a well-researched child-centered creative curriculum.

It varies depending on situation and circumstances. For instance, families with two working parents may need to seek a school earlier than families who have one parent that is able to stay at home. Every child develops readiness for a ‘drop off’ school program at a different time. That said by three, children tend to be better equipped to deal with the rigours of a day in school.

For children under three, a half day is more than enough. Being in school with other children is far more tiring than being at home. Three year olds are capable of a full day of school, from say 8:30am-3:30pm, although again it takes time for them to adapt to their new routine and build up their stamina. To this end, families should take great care if signing children up for additional activities outside of the school day: it’s important that children get time to play freely and relax.