How to make cultural adjustment easier for children

How to make cultural adjustment easier for children
How to make cultural adjustment easier for children. Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst.

Although children are resilient and can easily adapt to new situations, they would appreciate some help when it comes to adjusting to a new culture. They are missing their friends, their classmates whom they saw everyday. Listening to teachers in another language all day long is tiring. And not having friends to eat lunch with can be lonely. Fortunately, you can help. Here are some ideas on how to make cultural adjustment easier for children.

Help children make new friends in the new culture

Many countries have English classes in school. However, often those classes are on grammar, spelling, reading, and writing. It is one thing to understand what you read, and quite another thing to listen to those same words spoken by a native speaker. That means, during recess or lunch time, children may be missing their friends the most.

Parents may feel helpless in this situation. You are not there to keep your child company when they feel lonely at school. However, you can shorten this period of transition. For example, one client walks her 5-year-old to school and back home. While waiting for school to be out, she would get to know other parents. Not only did she make more friends, learn about what’s going on at school, she is helping to build connections on behalf of her daughter. Sometimes she would invite those parents over for tea. And after school or on weekends, she would invite their children to play with her daughter in her home. And when children play together, they pick up the new language more easily.

Helping children who are studying English as a second language

Doing homework in a foreign language takes longer and more mentally demanding. If you notice that your child takes a long time to do her homework, consider hiring a tutor. There are also free tutors. If you have a King County Library card, you can use for free if you go through KCLS online. Some libraries provide volunteer tutors to help students with homework after school. Helping your child this way can help her feel confident in the new language more quickly.

Another way to help your child is request a meeting with her teacher. Help the teacher understand your child’s needs so he can better serve your child. This actually is very helpful for the teacher. Not everyone is familiar with the culture you are from. Your tips for the teacher can save him time in figuring out how best to help your child feel part of the group, as well as how to succeed in school.

Help your child’s teacher understand your child’s needs

Although you can talk to your child’s teacher during parent teacher conference, you can ask for a meeting anytime. It is possible that the teachers are not familiar with your child’s specific needs, or even how to help with her language learning. During this meeting, you can explain the educational background your child came from, expectations she was accustomed to, her learning style, her study habits, her interests, the friends she had back home. This information would help the teacher seek out opportunities to meet those needs. Help the teacher focus on what your child needs, and your child will most likely receive that attention.

If you wish to explore this topic further, the article How to help children adjust to a new culture goes into depth on this subject.

If you find this blog helpful, here is one on How do you adjust to a new culture more easily?

Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    To schedule a session with her, please email

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