Education Outside The Classroom

Remember that what your children learn outside the classroom is just as important as what they learn inside. Relocation is an excellent time to remember this fact.

When choosing a school, make sure to pay attention to the programs offered in art, music, dance, theater, athletics, and after-school activities. Do any of them seem to exist simply to meet national or other requirements, or have the programs been developed thoughtfully? These programs may go a long way as far as helping your children through the process of settling in their new school, and they will grow in the process.


Do the schools you are looking at offer field-trips for the students? What kinds and how often?

Many schools might be limited in their offerings outside of the classroom. Still, recognizing the importance of this sort of education, there are some easy things you can do with your child that will go a long way:

-Learn folk songs of your new country and teach them to your child. Sing them around the house. Challenge your child to think about them: in what ways are they different from or similar to folk songs from home? Are they in a different language? Do they have a different mood? Can you sing a melody and have your child guess if it sounds like a folk song from home or from your new country?

-Once settled in your new home, don’t rely only on old familiar recipes. Explore, with your child, the cuisine of your new country. What familiar tastes do they use? What tastes are new and surprising? Does the kitchen smell different from how it smelled at home?

Da Vinci's Mona Lisa

-When possible, museum trips, walking tours, etc., are great ways of teaching your children about their new surroundings. These don’t have to be boring for your children. Focus on the things that interest them (the natural history museum isn’t inspirational for everybody!). If your young child is fascinated by fire trucks or playing war, take them to visit the local firehouse or a museum about an important war in your new country’s history. If your child loves animals, take them to the zoo or aquarium can teach them about local species that might not have populated your old home country.

Suffolk Regiment Museum

Parents know that activities like these are great for any child, but it’s easy to forget about them during a difficult transition and move. If you can find time to explore them, though, they can go a long way in both easing the transition for your child and teaching them in the process.


6 Responses to Education Outside The Classroom

  1. Jessie Bear says:

    So many of the points in this post speak directly to my experience! I lived abroad for 4th and 5th grade, and my particular international school had terrific after school activities and extracurriculars available to students. When I first moved, I had a really hard time adjusting (my teacher even called home to say she was “worried about me”!), until one day I tried out for an after-school play on a whim. It was basically my “in” – I quickly made friends, found an activity that occupied a lot of my time, and developed a social network at the school. Within weeks of starting the play, the American School of Paris really felt like home.

  2. The best kind of education happens when these experiences outside the classroom are integrated to teach children the curriculum they need to learn at school. When teachers take advantage of their students’ interests – extracurricular and otherwise,and build lessons around them, children love going to school and their school years turn into a lifetime of learning.

  3. Laila says:

    Jessie, what a fabulous point! I’d go even farther and say, finding an “in” is crucial, no matter your age or where you are moving. As humans, we all want to feel like we belong, and this can be especially hard for multicultural children, like TCKs! It’s so important for children to find a social network, and parents can help their children explore the options in different countries. Did you parents play a part in your decision to try out for the play? Were they supportive? I hope so!

    This article suggests some great ways for parents to spend quality time with their children. Research suggests parent-child relationships play a powerful part in TCK’s psychological development; after all, parents are often the child’s only stable support system! Activities like the ones suggested in this article can foster strong relationships that definitely ease the pain of relocation and especially repatriation.

  4. findingschools says:

    Just wanted to tack one important point on here:

    Research suggests that imaginative free play is also really important for creativity, proper development, etc. A new article in Scientific American reports:

    Another blogger shared his comments on the article here:

    Most problematic to me is this:
    “According to a paper published in 2005 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, children’s free-play time dropped by a quarter between 1981 and 1997. Concerned about getting their kids into the right colleges, parents are sacrificing playtime for more structured activities. As early as preschool, youngsters’ after-school hours are now being filled with music lessons and sports—reducing time for the type of imaginative and rambunctious cavorting that fosters creativity and cooperation.”

  5. This is outstanding! can’t wait to see more.

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