If you are considering making a move to Singapore shortly, it is likely to be an exciting milestone for you and your family, but any relocation will be challenging in its own way. This is particularly true when you are moving to Singapore with children. In addition to coordinating the logistics of the move to Singapore, you also will want to be mindful of your children’s physical and emotional needs throughout the entire transition.
At OWIS, we have compiled a quick checklist that you can use to make your move to Singapore with children seamless:
1. Keep your children informed about the relocation. You will want to make sure they know important dates, such as their last day of school in their home country or the day that you will be moving to Singapore. This will help them prepare mentally for their departure. It is also important to make children feel confident about the move by discussing all the exciting opportunities that will open up for them, while also assuring them that they will not lose contact with their friends and families. For many children, the idea of having to make new friends, in a new school and country, can be daunting. If you are only going to be in Singapore for a short period of time then it is important to make children aware of the fact that they will be coming back to their friends and family. By keeping communication channels open this will help children feel more at ease.
2. Select a school for your children. You should also involve your children in this process by giving them information about the schools you are considering. Let them look at the websites and brochures. Tell your children about the activities that will be available, and the amenities that are on campus. For many children, the extracurricular sports and activities, along with school trips and travel will be something that they are extremely interested in. Also ensuring that they feel happy about the academic options is essential so that they are not worried about being behind. Once you have arrived in Singapore, let them tour the schools you are considering before you make your final selection. Let them speak to the teachers and other students, and familiarise themselves. You may even find that they meet new friends during this time, making them excited to join the school.
3. Plan ahead as far in advance as possible. You will need to take care of the logistics of leaving your home country, such as preparing your home for the move, deciding on what to ship and what to leave behind, arranging your financial accounts and finalising the last school assignments for your children. If you are renting your home out or leaving it empty, it is important to ensure that you have someone who you trust to keep an eye on your property. Try to keep your kids involved, and let them help you pack, plan and prepare. Allow them to make decisions about what they want to take with them. You may think that certain things aren’t essential to pack but to your children, these items may hold a special and nostalgic value.
4. Wrap up school in your home country. As soon as you know that you will be moving to Singapore with children, inform the teachers at your current school. Speak to the administration staff to ascertain what needs to be put in order before the move. Talk with the teacher about what topics your children have currently been working on, and ask them to provide assessments or reports that can be given to their new school in Singapore. If you already know which school your child is going to then it may be worth trying to open communication channels between the teachers in the two schools. This will allow them to discuss any important points and for your child’s current teacher to give feedback about their needs. This will allow the new teacher to be better prepared for when your child joins the new class.
5. Plan a goodbye party. Your children will need closure, and a send-off party will be a special opportunity for them to say goodbye to their family members, friends, classmates and even teachers. This is also a good opportunity for children to communicate with you about their feelings before the move. It is likely that they could feel worried or anxious, but by opening communication channels whilst planning the party, hopefully, these feelings can be addressed. The party will give them something to focus on and be excited about. It gives them a chance to spend time with loved ones and helps to show them that their friends and family will always be there for them.
6. Make arrangements for the first days in Singapore. This may include coordinating the shipping of your personal items and arranging temporary lodging. You may choose to employ a company to do all of the relocation work for you, or your company may be able to help you with relocation services. By making the move seamless it takes away the stress of arriving in a new country. Organise something fun to do as a family to experience Singapore. Include children in the unpacking and the jobs around the new house, so that they feel a sense of ownership of the move from the start.
7. Explore housing options. You will need to investigate and research long-term options for housing – it will be a good idea to involve your children in the process. Talk to them about what they think is important in a new home and think about what they are leaving behind. They may be coming from a property with a huge garden so moving into an apartment with limited outdoor space may be difficult for them. Let them come with you as you check out the neighbourhoods in Singapore, and let them see the apartment or home you are considering before you finalise the arrangements. Think about what activities you plan to do as a family, where you plan to send your children to school and where your work is. It is important to decide what is important to you as a family.
8. Live like a tourist when you first arrive. Make your free time in Singapore count by visiting popular attractions and points of interest in the city. This will allow your children to have fond first memories of their time in Singapore. It will also help you get your bearings and scope out areas which you’d like to come back to, such as restaurants, play areas, galleries, museums or shops. Booking tours run by locals is also a good idea as it will give you an authentic feel of the area. You will see things that you may not normally notice and learn more about the culture of Singapore.
9. Take the time you need to settle into your new home.
Once you have discovered some of the attractions in Singapore, make an effort to get involved in local community organisations or clubs. This will help you feel connected to the community-at-large. Do research to find out what opportunities there are in the area. You may want to get your children involved in sports or hobbies straight away so that they can begin to build relationships with new friends. This is extremely important if you are moving during a school holiday as they will not be going straight into the classroom. This will also help you make connections with other families, many who may also have moved from a different country. Spend time in your new home as well. You may want to decorate the children’s rooms or let them do some artwork to put on the walls. By making the new house feel like home children will find the relocation much easier to adjust to.
10. Establish a new routine in Singapore. Your children will be adjusting to a new home, a new city and a new school, so try to create a consistent routine as quickly as possible. Speak to your children regularly to check how they are feeling, if they have any worries or if there is anything they would like to do. Check with the school you have chosen to see if there is a settling-in programme in place and coordinate a communication plan with the administration and teachers to stay informed about your child’s progress. Sign them up to any extracurricular activities that they would like to do and encourage them to have friends over to play after school. This early stage is important in building lasting relationships, confidence and a love for their new home.
At OWIS, we go to great lengths to ensure that all children feel welcome from their first day of school and we provide our parents with information and resources about relocation. Every new student at OWIS is assigned a buddy and teachers frequently check-in with new students to see how the transition is going. Teachers also welcome new parents and communicate with parents on how their children are settling-in and progressing at school with regular updates.
For more information about moving to Singapore with children, visit the OWIS relocation page today.
This blog was originally written in collaboration with Jasween Gill, former Admissions and Communications Director, OWIS Nanyang and Suntec.