New student at school

Advice for starting a new school

In Education, Expat Kids, Preparing kids by Carole Hallett Mobbs1 Comment

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First day of school tips

Starting a new school is very daunting. Can you imagine how scary it could be starting a new school in an unfamiliar country? I’ve always been incredibly impressed by expat kids who do this time and time again! Help your child make the new start as pain-free as possible with these simple tips:

Visit the school

  • Visit the school with your child before he/she starts there. This can take a chunk of anxiety away from that ‘first day of school’ panic.
  • While there, check out what the current pupils are wearing and carrying: this is particularly important if the school doesn’t have a uniform. Most children don’t want to stand out from the crowd so seeing the unspoken ‘dress rules’ is important. With older kids, fitting in will override comfort and common sense, so be prepared for the fact that wearing the ‘right’ shoes or backpack is vital! You may also meet other parents who can help you find your feet in the area.
  • Find out what items you need to buy before school starts. Some schools provide all stationery while others require you spend a small fortune and source it all yourself. And finding the latter out after school has started is not fun – I speak from bitter experience!
  • Label everything. Everything. Items will get lost. Make it easier to find in the lost property box by making sure everything has a label on it.
  • Ask what will be required on their first day of school. Lugging everything, including a PE kit, will not be fun – your child has enough to contend with on that all important first day.
  • Make the journey to school a few times so you and your child know the route to and from school.

On the first day

  • Encourage your child from the start to get their school bag ready the previous evening.
  • Do not be late. This can spell social suicide for many children.
  • If your child has to start at a new school midway through a term, acknowledge how difficult it can be for them. It will be harder for them to make new friends and fit in with an existing peer-group, let alone catching up academically. Provide as much support as you can.
  • With older children, a parent being seen at the school gate is a huge ‘no’! Encourage independence. Let them get on with it and be there if you’re needed.

Timetables and homework

  • Make a copy of the timetable. It’s useful to have your own copy in case one gets lost or damaged. It also helps you to know when clean PE kit is required!
  • Create a homework area at home with the right ambience and equipment to hand.
  • Agree when homework will be done and stick to it.

Expect the first few weeks/months to be an emotional roller coaster for your child and you. There will be a lot of ‘trying out’ new friendships as well as a lot of settling in and getting used to a new routine. Life can get quite emotional. Just ‘be there’ and try not to intervene too much (unless something very serious is occurring, of course).

Good luck to your child, and to you too, of course!


Choosing the right school for your child is one of the hardest decisions you’ll make as an expat parent when moving abroad. There are many education options around for expats, and so much depends on your individual family set-up and child that there is no ‘one-school-fits-all’ solution. Each child is different and each country’s school system is different, even within the ‘generic’ international schools. Also, families differ in their requirements and aspirations, and even relocations vary greatly. What worked well for you all in one country won’t necessarily be replicated in your next move.

It’s easy to get very stressed at this point. Don’t panic! I’ve put together this book to help you kick-start your search for the best type of school for your child. Now available on your local Amazon.

Buy from Amazon UK More detail on the book


I can help YOU with YOUR move abroad

I offer one-to-one support and targeted help and advice to help YOU navigate your own expat journey. I can make sure you are well-prepared for expat life. Hop on a FREE CALL with me to find out more

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