Successful return to school in expatriation, a challenge for parents

The children have returned to school, college or high school. Backpack or satchel, smile or tears, it’s done, the parents let go of their hands at the bottom of the house, in front of the gate, in the classroom. But them, how do they live the return to expatriation?

Nearly 390,000 French and French-speaking children are currently entering French educational establishments, not to mention those who are entering international and local establishments, or who are following distance education. Pens crackle, playgrounds bustle, teachers stand ready. Other players in this new school year are living this moment with more or less intensity: the parents.

The administration of an expatriate return to be well anticipated

Like any new registration, and new start, it is customary to complete and provide certain documents for your child’s file. But, when we experience this re-entry into expatriation, the exercise is sometimes more complex: visas, official translations or certain medical documents get involved and the parents… become entangled.

  • If you choose a French education in an approved institution of theAEFE, you must contact the chosen establishment (or sometimes the country’s embassy) directly to find out about the procedure. Do it in advance to have time to gather the desired elements (school report cards, certificate of radiation from the previous school, medical file, etc.). More and more French high schools offer simplified online procedures, with attachment downloads. The main information requested relates to the child’s date of birth, nationality, class and school career. In the event of an influx of registration requests, priority is often given to students of French nationality coming from an approved establishment in France or abroad or to siblings. Level assessments are sometimes carried out for children who do not come from a French establishment in France or abroad. These tests mainly make it possible to determine the reception class.
  • If you choose a local school, it is sometimes necessary to provide documents translated into the language of the country. On site, the embassy can support you on this subject, but it is important to gather all the documents well in advance, and why not carry out the official translations before the expatriation. In short, anticipate so as not to miss the boat.
  • If you have chosen distance education, and more particularly the French school program, go to the CNED for all the necessary information. Today, 120,000 students and teachers use CNED distance education. Good to know, you can register the child for distance education, in addition to their local schooling. In this case, measure the impact on it, both in terms of time and emotions.

If education abroad is more expensive than in France, solutions exist to help expatriate parents such as scholarships. Certain conditions are necessary such as (among other things) being of French nationality, residing in the country of establishment, being registered in the consular register and being over 3 years old. If you benefit from a scholarship in France, it is not transferable abroad, you will have to proceed to a new request to the consulate. Similarly, each request is valid for the current year and must be renewed each year if necessary. The procedure is independent of registration in the establishment.

Do not neglect the emotions of expatriate children, nor your own

A nostalgic parent, on a professional break, very invested or himself in the process of returning to school, each story and each context is unique. The common denominator is the emotion generated by the recovery and the challenge that the child experiences. In expatriation, the main advice is not to do (too much) because the child, by nature, has great adaptation resources. Not worrying too much does not mean neglecting the emotions felt before, during and after the start of the school year:

The pre-return is a key moment to understand the feelings of your child. Is he afraid? Is he impatient? What does he imagine? Does he pass a particular milestone? For small children, reading stories about school can be a conversation tool and a way to defuse a negative emotion. Sticking to school schedules for meals or naps is also a way to provide benchmarks in time. For any age, going to school (even if he knows it from last year) and why not with other parents and children is very useful because it presents (or reminds) the living environment in which he will evolve soon. As for you, be positive in his presence, do not press too much on your doubts. However, you have the right to feel emotions! Talk to your friends, spouse or family.

Back to school, D-Day. Transmit your confidence, value this day, without putting too much pressure. Remind the child that he will learn and discover many new things. Let him know if he’s going to be in a friend’s class and any rules that change from his old school and France (for example, the day ending earlier). For the little ones, stay with them as long as necessary, in agreement with the teacher. The first day is sometimes decisive in the mind of a child, as much as he begins it serenely. Once the hand is released, the parent also discovers…the other parents. This is an opportunity to chat, get to know each other and realize that you are not alone.

After school, back to home. How does he look? He smiles ? he sulks ? What did he do today? Has he ever made friends in the yard or in the canteen? A natural and even very healthy attitude, the parent watches for clues to get the results of the day. The child may say nothing at all, or mumble a few words. It doesn’t matter, we’ll try the dialogue during dinner, the next day or the following weekend. Otherwise, get the info from other parents, you may have the answers to your questions. Very quickly, the parent-teacher meeting will reassure you. During the first weeks, do not hesitate to take time with your child to discuss and listen to him. Even if it means having the door of his room slammed in his face.

a mother and a child confide in their return to expatriation

The parent must succeed in their own return to expatriation

The expat site, collaborative platform around expatriation with the family, very precisely takes up this subject: being a parent in expatriation. If the start of the new school year is a very emotional moment for children, it is also so for fathers and mothers. They are the ones who have chosen to make this experience live for their family, so they have the responsibility that it goes well and does not upset the family or individual balance. It is common to say that the solidity of a group depends on the solidity of each individual constituting it, and particularly that/those who is/are its base(s).

Thus, an expatriate parent who begins a professional mission must feel good, fulfilled, serene. For this, he should not hesitate to share his doubts and his difficulties of the first days or the first weeks, whether it is with his friends, his family or his spouse. Similarly, a follower spouse must find their bearings, take the time to adapt, and communicate about their feelings: “Becoming aware of how you react to problems and experiences will also give you insight into your own values. » As he is recommended on the expatsparents website. Particularly when your child goes back to school, confide sincerely in your own return to school; it can help create a sense of empathy and remember that each member of the family is going through an important moment.

Finally, throughout your expatriation, always remember thathappy and optimistic parents are a treasure for your children. »

Successful return to school in expatriation, a challenge for parents