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Cobs_Ahoy

Telling young children you are all moving to Australia

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Now things are looking more certain with our visas, we are at the point of telling people our plans. Obviously there is the usual guilt in terms of parents etc, but I’m ok with that, my biggest concern is telling my 6 year old daughter. Has anyone got any experience of telling primary-aged kids about the move? 
 

I know different approaches are going to be needed for different kids, but it helps to hear how others have gone about it, what the reaction was like, and how things went once they were actually in Australia. 
 

my daughter is very sensitive and hates change, so I already have an idea of how the news is going to go down.....

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Parents just told the three of us “we’re off to Australia”.  Can’t remember the reaction but really it was irrelevant.  

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Wouldn't worry about it too much; it's going to be a completely meaningless concept for her.  She might understand that she won't see her friends anymore but in reality that's no different to going to a different school.

My brother is autistic and has that whole hate of change thing on a different level, a major life change was easier for him to deal with than a simple break in routine.  And yeah, with ping-pong parents I got the "we are moving halfway around the world" several times, I remember really resenting the last move when I was in high school, but wasn't given the choice so had to lump it.  I don't actually remember the earlier moves too much. 

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I'd agree with Eera, she won't understand the implications of it until it happens and she cant go and visit her nanna or play with her current friends.  Kids are remarkably resilient and for the little kids "home" is mummy, daddy, their toys, their room and their pets regardless of which continent it may be on.  She may hate you for removing her from something she loves, she may not, you won't know until it's happened.  She may settle, she may not, you won't know until you've tried it but the vast majority of kids settle quite well so the best you can do is be in tune if she remains unsettled for a longer time (very rare but it has been known to happen).  It really only gets difficult when they are older and there are all sorts of "belonging" issues.  Thinking about change of home when I was about that age and I really cant remember a thing about it - cant remember what, if anything, my parents told me, it was a grown up thing and it happened - I was still "home" with mummy and daddy and my bear Billy so all was good with the world.

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As long as your kids are with you they will be happy at that age. Our eldest was a touch older when we moved and it was a big adventure to him. We showed him on the internet the area we planned on moving too and all the activities we wanted to do when we arrived. He was happy enough and even helped sorting his toys/books etc when the time came to de clutter.

 Good luck with everything

     Cal x

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If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place...

If you get a chance,take it, If it changes your life,let it. Nobody said it would be easy they just said it would be worth it...

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10 hours ago, Eera said:

Wouldn't worry about it too much; it's going to be a completely meaningless concept for her.  She might understand that she won't see her friends anymore but in reality that's no different to going to a different school.

My brother is autistic and has that whole hate of change thing on a different level, a major life change was easier for him to deal with than a simple break in routine.  And yeah, with ping-pong parents I got the "we are moving halfway around the world" several times, I remember really resenting the last move when I was in high school, but wasn't given the choice so had to lump it.  I don't actually remember the earlier moves too much. 

Thanks Eera, I hadn’t really thought about differences in how me and my daughter view the magnitude of the move in comparison to other changes. Because in my eyes the change is so much bigger than anything else we’ve done before, I’ve presumed it will be the same for her, but actually I guess when you are 6 moving to Australia is probably on a par with lots of changes that an adult would consider minor.
 

when we bought our first home it was about 5 streets over from where we were renting, and her distress really took me by surprise. She spent months asking to move back, although she was two at the time. Now she tells me she never wants to leave our current house, hopefully she will be saying the same about Australia soon!

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9 hours ago, Quoll said:

I'd agree with Eera, she won't understand the implications of it until it happens and she cant go and visit her nanna or play with her current friends.  Kids are remarkably resilient and for the little kids "home" is mummy, daddy, their toys, their room and their pets regardless of which continent it may be on.  She may hate you for removing her from something she loves, she may not, you won't know until it's happened.  She may settle, she may not, you won't know until you've tried it but the vast majority of kids settle quite well so the best you can do is be in tune if she remains unsettled for a longer time (very rare but it has been known to happen).  It really only gets difficult when they are older and there are all sorts of "belonging" issues.  Thinking about change of home when I was about that age and I really cant remember a thing about it - cant remember what, if anything, my parents told me, it was a grown up thing and it happened - I was still "home" with mummy and daddy and my bear Billy so all was good with the world.

That’s helpful to hear, I can’t remember moving to Portugal for a year when I was 4, but then I suppose we don’t always have to remember something for it to have had an impact. I’m hoping she will settle quickly once in school, as she is starting to get to an age where her sense of self comes largely from school/friends and others outside the immediate family unit. 
 

She is sensitive but also adventurous, so fingers crossed she will be able to focus on the excitement of it all, and that she is young enough to not feel the culture shock too much.

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8 hours ago, calNgary said:

As long as your kids are with you they will be happy at that age. Our eldest was a touch older when we moved and it was a big adventure to him. We showed him on the internet the area we planned on moving too and all the activities we wanted to do when we arrived. He was happy enough and even helped sorting his toys/books etc when the time came to de clutter.

 Good luck with everything

     Cal x

Planning arrival activities is a good idea, she is obsessed with Izzys Koala world so might do a google earth tour of magnetic island and get her involved in planning a trip up there. 

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41 minutes ago, Cobs_Ahoy said:

Planning arrival activities is a good idea, she is obsessed with Izzys Koala world so might do a google earth tour of magnetic island and get her involved in planning a trip up there. 

In that case, maybe tell her that you're going to move to where the koalas live?

If you take her to the nearest koala park to your new home as soon as you arrive, I doubt she'll mind whether it's the exact same koalas or not. I think you're going to Northern NSW - maybe you should give some thought to Port Macquarie 🙂

https://www.koalahospital.org.au/

https://www.portstephenskoalasanctuary.com.au/

 

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Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband granted UK spouse visa March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

My new novel, A Dance With Danger, is due out August 2022

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20 minutes ago, Marisawright said:

In that case, maybe tell her that you're going to move to where the koalas live?

If you take her to the nearest koala park to your new home as soon as you arrive, I doubt she'll mind whether it's the exact same koalas or not. I think you're going to Northern NSW - maybe you should give some thought to Port Macquarie 🙂

https://www.koalahospital.org.au/

https://www.portstephenskoalasanctuary.com.au/

 

Yes I am going to Northern NSW, well remembered! A trip to a koala park upon landing is a great idea, thanks for the links,  I will have a good luck at them this evening. 

Is port Macquarie particularly good for koala spotting then? We are tied to living as far south as Grafton (Northern Rivers have sponsored my visa), but would love to do some road trips to places where my daughter could spot some koalas! 

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10 hours ago, Cobs_Ahoy said:

Yes I am going to Northern NSW, well remembered! A trip to a koala park upon landing is a great idea, thanks for the links,  I will have a good luck at them this evening. 

Is port Macquarie particularly good for koala spotting then? We are tied to living as far south as Grafton (Northern Rivers have sponsored my visa), but would love to do some road trips to places where my daughter could spot some koalas! 

I think the Northern Rivers has one of the densest populations of koalas anywhere in Australia, but sadly that's not saying much, as koalas are on the verge of being endangered. It's hard to find koalas in the wild. They're always high up in the treetops and all you can see is a round furry bum!  

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is well worth a trip as, being a hospital, they have more than the average number of babies, and there's nothing cuter than a koala with a bandaged paw.

The Billabong Zoo, also in Port Macquarie, is also good - you can hand feed kangaroos and wallabies and they have a koala breeding centre.

https://www.billabongzoo.com.au/

 

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Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband granted UK spouse visa March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

My new novel, A Dance With Danger, is due out August 2022

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10 hours ago, Marisawright said:

I think the Northern Rivers has one of the densest populations of koalas anywhere in Australia, but sadly that's not saying much, as koalas are on the verge of being endangered. It's hard to find koalas in the wild. They're always high up in the treetops and all you can see is a round furry bum!  

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is well worth a trip as, being a hospital, they have more than the average number of babies, and there's nothing cuter than a koala with a bandaged paw.

The Billabong Zoo, also in Port Macquarie, is also good - you can hand feed kangaroos and wallabies and they have a koala breeding centre.

https://www.billabongzoo.com.au/

 

That's great, will definitely print all these bits out to show my daughter. My sister 'adopted' a koala for her last Christmas, I checked the certificate last night and its from a place called Taronga Zoo in NSW, so will add a trip there to the Koala Overload List! Not sure what I will do if she's totally lost interest in them by the time we get there!

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My kids are 6 and 9. My 9 year old totally understands whats going on and is excited but my 6 year old, although knows we are going, doesn't quite grasp how far it is etc...

So Ive focused on the positives that he will get excited about, main thing for him is having sunny days everyday where he can be in the pool with lots of blow up toys and the fact that he will get a double summer holiday off school this year. I try and mention it every few days so it stays in his mind but not too much so that he doesn't think of that and nothing else.

He has now noticed that he wont see his friends again which he says makes him sad but I've said he will make tons of new friends as everyone loves the new kid in school and he can have more play dates as the weather is better so we can be in the park more.

As long as they are with you they will adapt probably easier than you will 

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1 hour ago, Cobs_Ahoy said:

That's great, will definitely print all these bits out to show my daughter. My sister 'adopted' a koala for her last Christmas, I checked the certificate last night and its from a place called Taronga Zoo in NSW, so will add a trip there to the Koala Overload List! Not sure what I will do if she's totally lost interest in them by the time we get there!

Taronga is in the middle of Sydney so would be a real trek. Also they’ve changed the displays there, so to get close, you need to pay big bucks for special access.

The two Pt Macquarie places let you get pretty up close and personal 


Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband granted UK spouse visa March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

My new novel, A Dance With Danger, is due out August 2022

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3 hours ago, Marisawright said:

Taronga is in the middle of Sydney so would be a real trek. Also they’ve changed the displays there, so to get close, you need to pay big bucks for special access.

The two Pt Macquarie places let you get pretty up close and personal 

Ah ok, might just tell her the Port Macquarie one is where her koala lives!

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4 hours ago, emmajane0429 said:

My kids are 6 and 9. My 9 year old totally understands whats going on and is excited but my 6 year old, although knows we are going, doesn't quite grasp how far it is etc...

So Ive focused on the positives that he will get excited about, main thing for him is having sunny days everyday where he can be in the pool with lots of blow up toys and the fact that he will get a double summer holiday off school this year. I try and mention it every few days so it stays in his mind but not too much so that he doesn't think of that and nothing else.

He has now noticed that he wont see his friends again which he says makes him sad but I've said he will make tons of new friends as everyone loves the new kid in school and he can have more play dates as the weather is better so we can be in the park more.

As long as they are with you they will adapt probably easier than you will 

Thanks for sharing Emma, sounds like they are handling it really well. How far in advance of the move have you told them? We are aiming to get out there by October and hopefully telling the kids this weekend, my daughter can be a bit of a worrier so I didn’t want to tell her until we had a timeline to work with.

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5 hours ago, Cobs_Ahoy said:

Thanks for sharing Emma, sounds like they are handling it really well. How far in advance of the move have you told them? We are aiming to get out there by October and hopefully telling the kids this weekend, my daughter can be a bit of a worrier so I didn’t want to tell her until we had a timeline to work with.

October is a long way off for a 6 year old.  I wouldn’t give her 6 months of potential worries, people putting thoughts into her head and possibly months of tears.  That 6 months for her is like a few years to us.  Personally, I’d tell her very close to the time, possibly a month or so before you go. I think the more of an issue that’s made of it the more problems it may cause.  You’ve made your mind up you’re going and kids have to go where the parents take them.  Of course you want her to be happy and settle quickly.  I’m sure she will but months and months of the unknown for a young child is too much in my opinion.  I’d not make a big thing of it either.  Tell her you have all got a very exciting adventure coming up soon.  You will be moving to a lovely place called Australia.  It will be lots of fun and you will all meet lots of new friends.  Tell her about the koalas and other nice things.  Take her shopping for a few special toys that she can take to her new house and include a small one to sit with her on the flight.  That’s it, keep it brief and move on.  My old neighbour moved last summer and her 7 year old had to start a new school. For the last few weeks of summer term she drove him to his original school (didn’t move very far away) She didn’t tell him about him starting a new school until about two weeks before the new term.  She decided telling him months before that he wouldn’t see his friends again or go to his school again wasn’t in his best interests.  It would give him too much time to stew on things and get upset.  Bottom line was, just like you, it was happening.  He had no choice so she felt it kinder not to make a big deal over it.  He started his new school and within a few weeks he had so many new friends she couldn’t keep up with them all.  She started him at cubs, a new football team and a tennis club and within weeks of being told his old life was no more he was settled, happy and thriving.  That would have happened anyway but he could have had many months of upset and worry beforehand had she told him far in advance.  

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Yes @Tulip1 I definitely agree about minimising the time for her to stew over things, and this is a big reason why why haven’t told anyone so far - I didn’t want her to hear about it from someone else, or overhear a conversation. However, we are 5 months away from our planned flying out date (29th sept), and there are things we need to be doing/people we need to start telling. 
 

Also, because we will (hopefully) be flyinging out on 29th September, there is no point in her starting year 2 at her current school. Endings are very important to children, and so I don’t want her to feel like she left school thinking she would see her friends and not getting the chance to say goodbye. We went through something similar when her preschool closed during the pandemic, she only returned for two weeks before the year ended and she transitioned to primary school. 
 

 

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On 26/04/2022 at 14:39, Cobs_Ahoy said:

Thanks for sharing Emma, sounds like they are handling it really well. How far in advance of the move have you told them? We are aiming to get out there by October and hopefully telling the kids this weekend, my daughter can be a bit of a worrier so I didn’t want to tell her until we had a timeline to work with.

We are going September/October I told them a few months ago as they kept over hearing conversations which was getting a bit confusing. I also don’t want mine to go back to school in September as that may make it more upsetting for them but unsure how I go about not sending them to school, I mean I guess I don’t need to worry about getting  into trouble for not sending them if we are leaving the country anyway but I presume our local council will probably have something to say about it. 
 

Are you planning on getting your daughter to start school straight away when you get there? I know it will mean repeating the end of year 1 for them but I think it’s a good way to get them to settle in quickly and make friends.

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@emmajane0429

Yes, to be honest I'm looking forward to being able to talk about it freely in the house, my 6yo is a bit of an earwigger! I'm not sure about the process for withdrawing kids from school either, but once we've told our two this weekend I will speak to the school to see what they suggest. I don't want to withdraw her before September in case there is some disaster and we don't end up getting over there in time, so I guess I will formally withdraw her at the start of next year if all goes to  plan.

I'm in two minds about enrolling her in year 1 when we arrive, if we don't then she will have been out of school for 6 months, which is a long time! But we are hoping to spend a month visiting my sister and seeing some sights ( we haven't had a holiday since 2018!), so by the time we are able to enrol her it would be November, which really does seem pointlessly disruptive. I think we might just hold off until Year 2.

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5 minutes ago, Cobs_Ahoy said:

@emmajane0429

Yes, to be honest I'm looking forward to being able to talk about it freely in the house, my 6yo is a bit of an earwigger! I'm not sure about the process for withdrawing kids from school either, but once we've told our two this weekend I will speak to the school to see what they suggest. I don't want to withdraw her before September in case there is some disaster and we don't end up getting over there in time, so I guess I will formally withdraw her at the start of next year if all goes to  plan.

I'm in two minds about enrolling her in year 1 when we arrive, if we don't then she will have been out of school for 6 months, which is a long time! But we are hoping to spend a month visiting my sister and seeing some sights ( we haven't had a holiday since 2018!), so by the time we are able to enrol her it would be November, which really does seem pointlessly disruptive. I think we might just hold off until Year 2.

It was a while ago now when we left but i told our school what we were doing and asked them to prepare a small handover file for the new school here, just saying where my son was at. He finished the Year for Yr 2 and didnt go back for the start of Year 3. We left the UK in October. Once we had found an area to rent in here we approached the local school (probably mid Nov) and explained we were new to the country and wanted to enrol our child etc. We did the tour, interview etc and they advised due to there only been a few weeks left of the school year to start after the holidays ,so my son started in the January. This worked well for us as it gave us a little time to spend as family before he started school and he also met a few of the local children over the holidays so had friends already for when he attended that first day.

       Cal x


If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place...

If you get a chance,take it, If it changes your life,let it. Nobody said it would be easy they just said it would be worth it...

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Thanks @calNgary it’s really helpful to hear from someone who also left in October and held off on enrolling.
 

Asking for a handover file is a good idea, I wonder if the intended school would be able to give us an idea of Australia-specific topics covered in year 1, (as I’m presuming Aussie kids haven’t been learning about The Great Fire of London!). That way we might be able to touch on them while she is off school so she doesn’t feel totally out of her depth when she starts yr 2, and luckily she is at an age where learning about new things is still fun.

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25 minutes ago, Cobs_Ahoy said:

Thanks @calNgary it’s really helpful to hear from someone who also left in October and held off on enrolling.
 

Asking for a handover file is a good idea, I wonder if the intended school would be able to give us an idea of Australia-specific topics covered in year 1, (as I’m presuming Aussie kids haven’t been learning about The Great Fire of London!). That way we might be able to touch on them while she is off school so she doesn’t feel totally out of her depth when she starts yr 2, and luckily she is at an age where learning about new things is still fun.

Wouldn’t bother with a handover file, schools like to make their own decisions and she’s only 6 so she won’t have missed anything and you’ll probably find she’s streets ahead in literacy and numeracy anyway.  They may pay lip service and ask to see her last report but I wouldn’t sweat it.  Nobody gives two hoots if a kid is out of school for a few months if they’re new arrivals. Only reason you might want to enrol her in term 4 is the chance to make friends for playing over the summer holidays - she could get bored with her own company in a new place.  Kids start new schools all the time so that isn’t unusual, they don’t need to start at the beginning of the year to fit right in. 

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4 hours ago, Quoll said:

Wouldn’t bother with a handover file, schools like to make their own decisions and she’s only 6 so she won’t have missed anything and you’ll probably find she’s streets ahead in literacy and numeracy anyway.  They may pay lip service and ask to see her last report but I wouldn’t sweat it.  Nobody gives two hoots if a kid is out of school for a few months if they’re new arrivals. Only reason you might want to enrol her in term 4 is the chance to make friends for playing over the summer holidays - she could get bored with her own company in a new place.  Kids start new schools all the time so that isn’t unusual, they don’t need to start at the beginning of the year to fit right in. 

I think the handover file is essential for us as we have special needs to consider for 1 child so I guess it depends on your own personal situation. However I have also been told that UK schooling is far ahead of Australia which is good to know and also they are not bothered if you enrol them or not when you first move so it’s nice to know we have a bit of le-way.

Personally I know routine is best for kids so the sooner they get to school the better even if it is just for 6 weeks. I will too be letting them have a holiday and seeing some sights and then hopefully get them into school before Xmas so they can see what it’s all about. I think if it’s left too long they may get really anxious about it. 

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34 minutes ago, emmajane0429 said:

I think the handover file is essential for us as we have special needs to consider for 1 child so I guess it depends on your own personal situation. However I have also been told that UK schooling is far ahead of Australia which is good to know and also they are not bothered if you enrol them or not when you first move so it’s nice to know we have a bit of le-way.

Personally I know routine is best for kids so the sooner they get to school the better even if it is just for 6 weeks. I will too be letting them have a holiday and seeing some sights and then hopefully get them into school before Xmas so they can see what it’s all about. I think if it’s left too long they may get really anxious about it. 

6 weeks sounds like a good stint to get them settled to me, I think if we were able to make it happen 6 weeks before the end of term we would consider it, just to familiarise her with the school and get to know a few faces. And yes, I’m with you on routines, the past couple of years have been testing to say the least! But I think that with our daughter’s personality, anything less than 4 weeks wouldn’t be enough time for her to get those benefits.
 

looking into schools is next on my list of things to do. I’ve spent so long looking into the Sunshine Coast that now I’m not going there I basically have to start again 😫

 

good luck with your move @emmajane0429 hope it all goes smoothly for you all, not long till September/October now!

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