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Emigrating to a new country is a life-changing event for anyone, but for children, it can be even more challenging. It is critical to prepare young children carefully and with empathy for this major change.


Also, take a look at the webinar with Chantal Bruining and Maarten van Rulo, where they talk about Dutch families moving to Portugal with kids:




1.   Good preparation


Children need time to get used to the idea of moving. Therefore, start the conversation about emigration as early as possible. This gives them a chance to slowly get used to the idea and process it mentally. Create an open and supportive environment where they can express their feelings and concerns. Acknowledge their feelings, as it's normal to be sad about what they're leaving behind, while they may also be excited for the new adventure.

The preparation can also be practical in nature. Involve the children in the planning and packing. This can vary from choosing which toys can be take with them, to having their moving box painted themselves. By allowing them to make choices, you give them a sense of control and involvement in the relocation.


2.   Continuity


It's also important to provide continuity. Try to maintain routines like bedtime rituals and favorite meals, even in the chaos of the move. These routines are an anchor point for children, providing comfort and stability at a time when a lot is changing.


3.   A foreign language


Language is an essential bridge to the new homeland. Start introducing the new language as early as possible. This can be done through fun activities such as songs, stories or children's books with emigration as a theme. It takes children about six months to master the new language. Language proficiency will boost their confidence and ease the transition to a new environment and school.


4.   Going to school


Choosing a suitable school for emigrating with children is of course very important for their happiness in life.  Education in Portugal is free. Some schools have a bilingual program.The teachers speak English and a lot of attention is paid to the English language. It is worth considering living close to such a school so that the children can also play with each other after school.

In addition, there are no less than 13 private international schools in the Algarve, including a few Dutch and German schools. These schools are not free, parents are asked to pay school fees. The international schools transcend culture and the children recognize themselves in the fact that they have emigrated. Which school you choose is a personal decision.


5.   Cultural differences.


Prepare the children for cultural differences. Tell them about the new customs and holidays they will experience. This can be exciting for children and make them curious about their new home. It can help to have a map on which you and your child map out the trip to the new country. Making this visual makes it less abstract.


6.   Contact with the country of origin.


It is also important to keep in touch with what they leave behind. Establish a way to stay in touch with friends and family, such as a regular video call or exchanging letters or drawings. This helps in maintaining a sense of connection to their original home.

Visiting the new country before the final move takes place can also help immensely, although this is not always possible. If you can, use this time to get the children used to the new environment, such as the neighborhood they will live in and the school they will attend.


7.   Participate in social life


Once you arrive, encourage children to participate in local activities and clubs. This not only helps them make friends but also adapt quickly to the new culture. Be a role model in adapting to the new environment. Children often adopt the behavior and attitudes of their parents.

Finally, remember that every child is different, and some children will need more time to adjust than others. Be patient and supportive, and know that it takes time to feel at home in a new country.


By planning ahead, communicating openly, and being patient, parents can help their children make the transition to their new home country smoothly and with confidence. The adventure of emigration can then become an enriching experience that brings the family closer together and opens up new perspectives for all.