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Moving Overseas With Children

Girl looking out airplane window

Moving overseas is an adventure that few families get the chance to experience together. Foreign countries with different languages and customs offer opportunities for children to explore and learn. As a parent, you can help make the transition to living abroad easier and maximize the adventure for your children with these tips.

Schooling overseas?

Contact your installation school liaison for help with education transitions and more.

  • Research your new location. Go online or head to the library to learn about the language, culture, popular music, local sports teams and more in your next home. Let your child help with the research and encourage them to explore their own areas of interest as well. Try to get your children excited about the new adventures before you arrive.

    For great online resources, check out the new DOD MWR Libraries.

  • Look for books and movies that feature your overseas location. You and your family are about to star in your own overseas adventure, so you might enjoy finding characters that do the same. Help your child search online for titles or ask someone at your school to help.
  • Make a travel wish list. Moving overseas can enable your family to expand your travel horizons in an exciting way. Print out a map and grab a marker or some pushpins. Mark your new location then explore the nearby area and landmarks. Make a wish list and share it with your family. Learn about how to vacation with MWR recreational lodging facilities around the world. You can also explore military vacation discounts available through Armed Forces Travel. Your tour will be over before you know it, so be sure to take advantage of your overseas travel opportunities.
  • Find out what your kids can and can’t take. Weight restrictions may limit what you can take with you on this move. Have your child make a list of items that are most important. As your child leaves behind important items, remind him or her of the cool mementos that they are likely bring back from your overseas adventure.
  • Start learning the language. Get the family involved early in learning the new language. Try using language recordings, phrase books or even taking a formal class to get familiar with how the local people speak. The Mango Languages program from the new DOD MWR Libraries offers over 70 languages.
  • Find out about your new school. Contact your new installation school liaison for support with overseas education transitions. Ask questions about where schools are located, how the grade levels are divided, whether the children will be wearing a uniform, and what’s in the curriculum. School liaisons can also help with transferring records and registration, locating extra-curricular activities, youth sponsorship programs and much more. Share as much as information as you can so your child can be involved in the transition.
  • Figure out how to stay in touch with old friends. Help your child make a plan to stay in touch with old friends. Remember that you may be several time zones apart, so figure out what is the best time for children and friends to communicate. Encourage your child to write letters. Make sure your child provides friends with the new address before you leave.
  • Help your child make new friends. The Youth Sponsorship Program is great way to help your children meet new friends and feel at home in their new community. Youth sponsors are available both through your installation youth program center, and also through local schools. Contact your installation school liaison for more information about youth sponsorship.
  • Sign up for activities. Check out the fun things to do at your new installation and suggest a few clubs or teams to your child. You can also volunteer in your new community and meet fellow parents who might give you some ideas about how to help your child adjust to the new community. Contact your installation Military and Family Support Center for information about volunteer opportunities and other family programs.
  • Find out who can visit you overseas. Discuss the possibility of inviting relatives and friends to visit. As you get settled and get to know your new area, think about what you’d like to share with visitors. Sometimes a familiar face goes a long way to help a child feel at home.
  • Have your child track his or her journey. Have your child record and share the new and interesting sights you see along the way. Your child might use a travel journal, collect postcards, or save memories in another creative way. Recording an adventure could help create a sense of ownership and accomplishment for him or her.

Learn more about the array of relocation assistance available both online and in-person to help you and your family master your overseas move and maximize your adventure.

Still have questions or need help finding resources? Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7 to provide answers and connect you with the support you need to thrive. Call 800-342-9657, use OCONUS calling options, or schedule a live chat.

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