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Old 31.01.2010, 07:17
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Re: Sending kids to local schools and speaking the local language

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The first few months were frustrating for them not being able to communicate well with the other kids, but kids play together without much need to speak anyway. If you can stick it out past that adjustment period it is a great way for your children to really learn the language and develope friendships with children who live in your own neighborhood.

When I was a child (7yo), my family moved to Okinawa. As my father was there on an "unaccopmanied tour" (only he was supposed to go), we were unable to get base housing so we lived off-base.

Looking back now, it is sort of a shame that we were able to go to school on base with other American kids. The Japanese I remember most are the songs and poems (and dirty words ) that we learned by playing with the neighbor kids.

Even so, with that in mind, after having lived in many other areas where there is a shared language, I think that another factor is equally important to language skills which is a common relocation background. This is probably fairly equally important for adults as it is for children so far as feeling "at home" goes.

I'm trying to think how to word it right but partly it can be seen here on this forum. This forum (and others like it) are important to us because it allows us to connect to other who on some level are "just like us"... we are far from "home" and at some stage of adapting to a new life. As adults we can (and obviously do) seek this out, children do not have quite the same options - they go where we put them to a great extent.

The times my siblings and I settled into school and social life most easily were the times we moved places where there were other families who relocated with some frequency. Usually we lived on a base and so went to school with other military kids... sometimes though we moved places where there was no base and "all" of the kids lived there their whole lives. These few occasions it was a lot harder forming a social group and truly being happy with things in general.

So... with the eyes of someone who has been there as a child, I'll offer that IF you are intending to only be here a short period of time, it is best to either live in / send your kids to school in a larger city (with the idea that a lot of city folk are more transitional) OR send your kids to school at one of the international schools where the kids are almost guaranteed to have experience with the trials and adaptations of relocation.

There is more to it than the relatively simple language differences.
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