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How Moving Abroad With Your Family Can Improve Your Child’s Future
Technology, global communication, and trade have shaped connectedness and interdependence in the modern world through globalization. With the ability and pursuance of global work, many families and children are experiencing the benefits of moving abroad and realizing new dynamics while creating new identities.
Third culture kids (TCK) are individuals who have spent significant parts of their developmental years as part of a culture different than the culture or cultures their parents identify with. TCKs create a sense of relationship with all of these cultures, while not necessarily developing full ownership of any particular culture. This ability to adapt, learn, and grow, can result in positive developments, such as flexibility, coping with change, and adapting to a changing world. The following article will provide insight into the opportunities available to expat families and children.
Expanded Schooling Opportunities
There are often a variety of school choices for early childhood education at home and abroad. This may include private schools, community schools, or international schools that have a focus on bi-lingual classes, public schools that are fully immersive, or homeschool options. Finding a school program in a new country is a priority for many parents. There may be a few things to take into consideration such as:
- Schools that offer support for students and families that do not speak the local language at home.
- Meeting aspects of education such as curriculum and qualifications.
- Cultural aspects — such as changes in strict rules and classroom structure.
- Integration of religious or cultural topics.
Choosing where your child will attend school may also correlate with housing. It can be helpful for both parents and children to check local listings to consider different property locations with access to your schools of interest. Here is another great resource for anyone considering moving their family to Costa Rica.
Exposure to Different Cultures
Studies on the cognitive benefits of cultural experience show a relationship between students who study abroad and higher rates of creative thinking. Exposure to cultural knowledge schemas or frames that include learned practice, values, laws, customs, and beliefs are shown to result in an individual’s ability to apply different ways of thinking to a broad range of situations. Cultural integration shows meaningful benefits such as mental flexibility, as well as detecting, processing, and organizing information in more innovative ways.
Diversity exposure in early education development can also help students acquire stronger social skills and receptivity to those who speak different languages than their own. Immersive experiences can provide children the opportunity to become more comfortable with different religions, lifestyles, and languages. Studies also show that exposure to cultural differences can help kids determine a sense of fairness and equality.
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Cultural immersion at a young age can also be helpful in developing an understanding of multiple languages, as well as multilingual ability development for future linguistic skills. Studies show that learning two languages can make kids smarter and more adept at mathematical, problem-solving, and creative abilities. Studies on early language learning and literacy found that children’s early mastery of a language requires learning in a social context, with special implications in the educational environment.
A Chance to Explore a Different Environment
Moving to a new country provides the opportunity for tours and adventures. Studies on childhood development show access to nature correlates with diverse benefits to health and growth for cognitive, emotional, and physical attributes. These benefits may result in an increased ability to concentrate, improved academic performance, reduced stress and aggression, and decreased likelihood of obesity.
The chance for children to experience unique landscapes, natural events, or cultural works can help develop their social skills and understanding of the world. This may include:
- Wildlife tours
- Turtle nesting
- Whale watching
- Rainforest conservation and ecotourism
- Combination tours with adventure and cultural experiences like traditional mud baths
- Pottery tours
It is important to research all activities ahead of time to ensure that they are age-appropriate and that all relevant safety precautions can be met.
New Social Circles
Traveling and living abroad provides an opportunity for children to learn about diversity and inclusion. Studies surrounding the importance of promoting diversity in early childhood show that children as young as six months can begin to recognize differing physical characteristics in people. Forging diverse relationships with local people in a new country can be done at food festivals by trying nutritional, local dishes.
Increased Skill-Building Opportunities
There are many opportunities for skill development for the children of families that move abroad. Access to new landscapes, adventures, and outdoor activities can promote physical, emotional, and mental well being as well as develop passions and skills for exploration and learning.
Children that encounter diversity and culture have the opportunity to learn and understand new languages, forge new relationships and social understanding, as well as nurture an appreciation and understanding for a multitude of cultural differences, histories, foods, and practices.