Transition to Beijing

Moving from one country to another is a life-changing experience. The process of transitioning into a new life, a new culture and new friendships can lead to conflicting feelings. We might feel exhilaration at the discovery of the new, and also a feeling of loss at what was left behind. Everybody experiences these mixed feelings during transition, no matter how experienced we might be in moving workplaces, schools and countries. Some people move through transition quickly, while others might take up to a year or longer to feel comfortable and fully “arrive” in their new country.

For Yourself

  • Understand that people in your family may be transitioning at different rates; 
  • Be kind to yourself and to those around you; 
  • Try to look after yourself; keep an eye on your diet and make sure you get enough sleep;
  • Exercise – you may not feel like it, but it is one of the best solutions to feeling stressed;
  • Try to keep a sense of humor and look for the positives in every situation;
  • When someone invites you to an event or suggests you give them a call – try it.  

For Your Child

  • Children need special time with you during the early days of a new place; 
  • Try to identify your child’s special space where they feel most comfortable (it is often their bed). Set it up according to their desires (even if it doesn’t make sense at the time);
  • Make a time every day where you do nothing but listen to your child. When they talk about their feelings, acknowledge them – don’t try to get them to feel differently. If they are identifying problems don’t step in and solve them but support them to come up with their own solutions. Children need to feel a sense of control over their new environment too.   

For Your Family

Routine – try to re-establish positive family routines at home as soon as possible;  

Rituals – does your family have special celebrations, ways of doing things together or special meals together? Keep them going; 

Relationships – be kind to each other and recognize that the up and down emotions you may all be experiencing are a normal part of transition, and that they will pass. 

Transition to WAB

As with any international school, transition is a normal part of the life of WAB and all staff are aware of and monitor the impact of transition continuously. Between entering Early Years in the Early Childhood Center and leaving Grade 5, Elementary students experience a variety of physical, emotional, psychological, social, moral and intellectual developments. For many of our students it is also a time of transition to a new country, a new culture and for many, a new language. WAB recognizes the fundamental importance of carefully supporting Elementary students through each phase of transition. 

WAB aims to support transition through a range of activities, including a comprehensive new student orientation program and parent workshops. Leaving WAB is an equally important time for transition support as arriving at the school, and the WAB Alumni Network (WAN) provides a way for students of all ages to maintain a connection to the school. 

Teachers and counselors plan for transition at all stages of a student’s development in both formal and informal ways including:

  • A common curriculum framework and language for learning across the school;
  • A Learning to Learn Program for all grades at the start of each academic year, which is intended to support students academically, socially and emotionally as they enter their new grade and class;
  • A formal transition program at the end of Grade 5 for students moving to Grade 6 in the Middle School;
  • A full Unit of Inquiry devoted to the theme of Transition and Change in the final month of Grade 5;
  • Information sharing and dialogue between Grade 5 and Grade 6 teachers; 
  • Parent information sessions for parents of students transitioning;
  • A Community Picnic at the start of the school year;
  • A Buddy Program for students joining the school;
  • A transition program for arriving and leaving students, supported and led by the Elementary counselors;
  • A China Engagement focus to the curriculum to encourage authentic connection to our host country, China.

First Days at WAB

Transition and change always bring feelings of uncertainty for all involved whether it be your first day at WAB or a change of class for existing students. WAB staff are very aware and skilled in managing the feelings and behaviors of students during this time. Parents may feel that by increasing their presence at school during this time, things will run more smoothly for their child. Research and experience tell us that in fact the opposite occurs, with the period and intensity of anxiety often increasing, sometimes resulting in behaviors from a student that can be difficult to manage.

WAB advises parents to:

  • Model confidence and calm to children in both what is said and what is done;
  • Keep farewells at school or the bus stop caring but brief;
  • Keep visits to the school short and purposeful until the child has settled in;
  • Advise teachers or counselors if the child or the family is struggling with transition