Families on the Move: Challenges and Opportunities

September 9, 2010

Liz Perelstein recently published Families on the Move: Challenges and Opportunities (pg 42), in Mobility Magazine.

The personal tale of the heartache and immense growth due to a relocation is a must-read for any family considering international relocation!

Here’s a snippet ~

“You know what personal trainers say: “no pain, no gain.” Now a member of the “global mobility” world, I am almost embarrassed that my only overseas assignment was 12 years ago in a Western, English-speaking location—London—and for a predictable three years. But for me and for my family, even that relatively sheltered adventure provided an abundance of pain, out of which came infinitely more gain.”


Going Local… in India

July 14, 2010


This American family sent their daughter to a local school in India… hear more about their experiences, including some very funny stories!

See a previous post on the same family.

Relocating with Children: When Divorce Enters the Equation

July 6, 2010

By Liz Perelstein, President of School Choice International

Excerpt from ExpatExchange.com


Over the past few years I have been asked to provide expert testimony concerning education and relocation. These cases have been associated with two scenarios:

  • a potential move in a family where parents had divorced or were divorcing, or,
  • where parents have separated while on assignment and the custodial parent wants to move home while the working parent remains abroad.

As society has become more peripatetic, this issue is bound to arise increasingly. The five-year legal battle of David Goldman to gain custody of his son Sean was highly publicized because it was identified as an important precedent in custody battles during the current era of mobility. As the relocation of separated families has become more common, states within the United States have enacted legislation that addresses the issues inevitably raised. These laws vary considerably by state. Parental consent may be required so that when the non-custodial parent does not consent, the issue may be decided by the legal system. Intrastate moves are allowed more frequently than interstate moves which suggests that proximity and ongoing contact is considered crucial.

I have not found articles that deal specifically with legal considerations in international relocation for divided families; however, there have been a few studies (despite small sample sizes) that support the belief that ability to successfully maintain relationships with both parents is significant to a child’s well being (Journal of Family Psychology, 2003). Accordingly, legal requirements for international relocations most likely would be more stringent than those for domestic transfers because of the obvious fact that distance affects the ability to maintain relationships with both parents.

Families need to think about:

  • the child’s age;
  • how important the move is to the parent;
  • whether there are pros as well as cons for the child;
  • can parents keep conflict away from the child and his/her education;
  • how the child can maintain a relationship with both parents;
  • and what is the child’s personality like, in particular, does the child adapt easily to change?

Companies that relocate divorced parents have to consider:

  • the child’s age
  • legal implications,
  • timing in view of these legal issues,
  • cost and emotional impact on the employee as well as child.

Summer: A Time for Fun Learning

August 13, 2009
Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers

In his latest book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell discusses education in the United States. He refers to a researcher from Johns Hopkins who found that students from inner-city public schools actually outlearn their wealthy peers during the school year, but then fall behind during the summer vacation. He goes on to explain that while poorer students are left to their own devices over the summer (while their parents work long hours to provide for the family), privileged children spend their summers participating in activities, academic or otherwise, under the close supervision of their parents, nannies or camp counselors; in other words, the children who spend the summer “productively” continue to learn over the summer. Gladwell also describes a school in a low socio-economic area where students have a much shorter summer break (among other expectations, such as a rigorous curriculum and a strict school schedule), resulting in high academic achievement. Gladwell suggests that in order to help poor students do better in school, summer vacations should be shortened.


These findings also have implications for children growing up abroad. Parents may want to take a close look at the length of vacation time and how an expat child utilizes those precious weeks or months. Think about summer schools or camps, as they may provide opportunities to explore or develop comprehensive skills in music, theater, art or sports, in a way that a smaller international or local host schools may not offer. Finding summer schools or camps may be difficult overseas, but certainly available through-out the United States.

Expatriates definitely have great opportunities for cultural experiences, and summers and winter breaks are a fantastic times to explore the host country and neighboring areas. Parents might try to think of the trip as more than a vacation (sunbathing by the beach) and consider a few engaging activities for the children. A trip to a museum or ancient city might be the typical “educational” experience but there many more fun ways to continue learning through the summer, even on vacation.

Here are a few great ideas:

  • Learning the local language
  • Read the local newspaper
  • Read a book by a local author
  • Cook a traditional meal
  • Participate in a local tradition
  • Learn a local art form (for instance, West African drumming or Bharatanatyam dancing in India)
  • Visit the local zoo or a wildlife reserve
    The Bangkok Post, featuring the King and Queen

    The Bangkok Post, featuring the King and Queen