How can schools make relocation easier for families?

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An international move can be an emotional roller coaster for the entire family. When dealing with practicalities like hunting for housing, starting new jobs and learning where to buy everyday essentials, finding a supportive school is essential. After all, ensuring that your child is happy and well settled will often determine whether the relocation is a success or a family failure.

Garden International School (GIS) is one school that takes this seriously. Since 2016, GIS has been guided by a parent engagement vision, developed in partnership with its parent community. The successful programme involves a dedicated transition team that aims to build a safe, sustainable environment for its families regardless of where they are coming from or going to. In recognition of the school’s achievements in this area, GIS has recently been shortlisted for the ‘School Offering Outstanding Relocation Support’ by Relocate magazine’s Relocate Awards 2018.

Driven by the commitment of its Parent, Teacher and Friends Association (PTF), the school has worked hard to foster a constructive dialogue between school staff and parents – ensuring new and existing GIS families are fully supported in their transition into school life. Thanks to this work, many experienced international parents have stated that they have never known such a warm, welcoming transitional experience when they have started at a school – noting the huge benefits for their children who seem to have no problem settling in. As a result of feeling welcome, children new to GIS settle into their learning quickly and securely.

Garden International School’s transitional support for parents and families:

Helping parents learn and develop

New parents are introduced to the school community at the New Family Induction Day at the start of each term as well as the New Parents Workshop, which provides a more informal setting for new parents to get to know each other. Once settled, they can join the rest of the parent community at the weekly parent workshops conducted by school teachers and international speakers.

Departing families are encouraged to attend the “Good Goodbye” events organised on a termly basis to ensure a smooth and positive transition experience on leaving the school.

Non-English-speaking families are supported extensively:

  • Families are contacted before their arrival to assess whether any additional support with English language is required – specialist classroom support will be in place for children attending the school.
  • A summary of the school handbook is available in 10 languages and translators are on hand during face-to-face meetings with new families throughout the first week.
  • GIS facilitate parent English lessons, which are offered to parents on a weekly basis. These classes not only help parents to develop their command of the English language but also offer a firsthand experience of GIS’s teaching ethos and practical ways to engage in school life.
  • The Parent Buddy Programme is run by the PTF and pairs new parents with experienced families to offer support and assistance.

Working in partnership with Parents and supporting community well-being

The PTF also provides a platform for discussion for new parents, covering areas such as health & safety, local culture, school and community events. These sessions are particularly useful for new parents as they offer unique cultural experiences in and around Kuala Lumpur in a safe and friendly setting.

Back at school, GIS runs a complimentary Mother-Toddler group for all staff and parents twice a week. This group enables non-working parents and staff families the opportunity to meet and develop friendships. The school also has three full-time qualified counsellors to offer well-being support and counselling for students.

Supporting new overseas staff

For new staff joining from overseas, GIS offers a two-week residential induction programme. Guiding staff on local culture and etiquette, setting up bank accounts and organising meetings with trusted partner relocation agencies that enable new staff to make informed accommodation choices.

This post is sponsored by Garden International School. To learn more about the school, visit their website or call 03 6209 6888.

 

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