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Old 11.02.2012, 09:56
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Moving with tweens -- easing the transition?

We are moving to Zurich area this June with our 11 year old daughter and 9 year old son for three years. Kids will be going to ISZL.

What has been most helpful for others who have moved with kids to make the transition as painless as possible? While my husband and I are excited about the move, our kids are not embracing the adventure, at this point!

We will be bringing the kids for a pre-move visit the first week of April. Any advice for things to do to make this move look appealing to them? I've checked out the family activities thread, so will definitely be planning from that.

Thanks for any and all words of wisdom!
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Old 11.02.2012, 12:06
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Re: Moving with tweens -- easing the transition?

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We are moving to Zurich area this June with our 11 year old daughter and 9 year old son for three years. Kids will be going to ISZL.

What has been most helpful for others who have moved with kids to make the transition as painless as possible? While my husband and I are excited about the move, our kids are not embracing the adventure, at this point!

We will be bringing the kids for a pre-move visit the first week of April. Any advice for things to do to make this move look appealing to them? I've checked out the family activities thread, so will definitely be planning from that.

Thanks for any and all words of wisdom!
if you can at all swing it, delay moving the kids until the latter half of July. while Switzerland is beautiful in the summer, you will find that it is very, very quiet and the vast majority of expats take their home-leave or vacations in July and August. by coming toward the end of July, you will still have plenty of time for the kids to get over jet lag (it took ours nearly a week) and to spend time getting acclimated to a new country, but not so much time that the kids get bored and have no outlet to distract them from the fact that they're thousands of miles from home. ISZL will start the 2nd or 3rd week of August, at which point your family will have all sorts of distractions.

we moved in mid-July, and our kids were 13, 10 and 7. in hindisght, we probably could have waited until August 1 to move, it would have made the immediate transition issues a little easier. your kids will love ISZL, all 3 of our kids have adapted quite well and are really enjoying the school and the rest of Switzerland. there are "beaches" up and down the lake in Zurich, assuming that we get better weather this summer than last the "beach" at Kilchberg seems to be the location of choice for many of the expat families (although we stick to our local beach for convenience).

also, if it is possible make sure the working spouse avoids work the first couple of weeks. my office was very helpful in this regard (having trained gringos for several decades), though we have friends whose working spouse dove immediately into work and it can leave the rest of the family feeling a little stranded. we found the first couple of weeks to be some of the best times we have had as a family, Switzerland is beautiful and generally very user-friendly but it is still an entirely different country and culture and having the whole family experience the early part of the transition together can be huge.

lastly, seek out and embrace the culture. our kids are now fully addicted to muesli, Rivella, huusgmacht flamme kueche, bacon-wrapped cipolatas, kasespatzli, roschti, you name it. our now 8 year old can even be found from time to time watching her cartoons in German or the Swiss German music channels. our sons can even be found searching out soccer on EuroSport, although I quickly switch the channel to ESPNAmerica before they get too acclimated.

congratulations on the move, btw, it really is an absolutely fantastic opportunity.
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Old 12.02.2012, 08:25
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Re: Moving with tweens -- easing the transition?

thank you CrazyGringo! that is a lot of really great advice. bacon-wrapped anything has to be a cure-all! and i certainly plan to spend a good portion of my time eating my way around Europe!!

at the moment, it looks like we will have one week together as a family before the hubby starts working. luckily for us tho, we will receive our first visitors shortly after that, some of the kids' best friends, and we will do some traveling with them. hopefully, experiencing the new place with friends from home will ease the transition somewhat, too. at least their friends will have a good sense of where they are.

i wonder if anyone has any experience with the Berlitz language camps? the brochure certainly looks impressive, and it might be a nice way for the kids to get introduced to German, while having some fun, during those down weeks between visitors and school starting.

thanks again, CrazyGringo, I look forward to meeting you at ISZL!
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Old 12.02.2012, 10:32
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Re: Moving with tweens -- easing the transition?

i would take advantage of the time you have together before your hubby starts working to take some trips of the country and see a bit of it as a family. a language camp may be good but imho you are better off enjoying time together as a family exploring your new home and neighborhood- there is only so much that they will get from a camp and for us, i found my son just needed more quality time to make the transition smooth.

also, a help was to get him involved in sports and activities outside of school and in the neighborhood where he is using the local language and spending time with kids who live close by. being in the international school takes some of the pressure off in terms of language learning, especially if you are here only 3 years- so i'm not sure i would push it too much. i'm sure they'll have a great time and it will be as smooth for them as it is for you- if you are stressed, they will be and if you are excited and/or calm, they'll be too!

enjoy
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Old 14.02.2012, 23:38
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Re: Moving with tweens -- easing the transition?

I'm in a similar situation. I'll be moving to Zurich later this year, probably early summer, with a 12 year old son. He's been to Switzerland before, but I think he will have a lot of concerns about moving away from all of his friends, and unfortunately we won't be able to send him to the international schools.

I wonder if he would benefit from being able to start a pen-pal relationship with some of the other kids who have moved over recently, who might be able to share some personal experiences with him. It might also help him feel lik ehe had a friend or two in Switzerland already.
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Old 15.02.2012, 04:55
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Re: Moving with tweens -- easing the transition?

Good idea Milo! It might be a nice opportunity for Swiss kids studying English to practice, too....

Let me know if you have any luck with it.
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Old 20.02.2012, 10:10
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Re: Moving with tweens -- easing the transition?

You could also check with the school to see whether there are any activities, camps, or other such thing that could help introduce your children to their schoolmates before they actually start back in school. I have seen a lot of information from this group, which is a private venture (and quite expensive to boot) but caters to English-speaking kids. http://www.swissadventurecamp.ch/

Some of the international schools have private email groups, so that you could be in touch with other families and see who might be in town over the summer, and perhaps meet up for a beach or hiking day. That way, perhaps they could enter school already having a friend or two.

Good luck with the transition!
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Old 20.02.2012, 10:33
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Re: Moving with tweens -- easing the transition?

Ensure that they have their stuff set up as soon as possible - that is, the furniture for their bedrooms, plus give them their own boxes of things to get unpacked and in place before you start worrying about making the rest of the house/apartment livable. That gives them the familiar nest to move out from and retreat to, as they settle into the new enironment.
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