|Live and Study Abroad • Hong Kong
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Tips for parents to support their children in their life-changing journey
Study Abroad is not just another vacation. It is a life-changing event, a result of thorough thinking and strong determination by both your children and you.
As I have mentioned when I describe the reason why I am expanding this Website to audiences from HK who are thinking of live / study abroad; study abroad or study tour has become very popular among HK students. Even kindergartens here have organized study tour for local kids. As always, parents in HK are eager to follow the trend and make sure their children would not fall behind from their counterparts.
Perhaps, if all you want for your children is to have the same kind of experience as everyone else; instead of to have their life changed or something achieved; then this kind of study tour can only be classified as another vacation experience. That is why it is called study tour or study trip, instead of study abroad. However, I am not sure why it is so important for your kids to participate in this kind of study tour if you can afford taking your kids on vacation from time to time already. Also it is not the kind of experience I am promoting in this Website.
Whether it is a study tour or more, if you are going to support your children to study overseas for more than a month; and if the program is closely related or very useful to their academic development; you should start changing your mind. Otherwise your children would not achieve anything there. All they would remember is it is just another vacation.
Once you realize study abroad is not just another vacation, you will understand you cannot rely on anyone to plan everything for you and your children. To make the most of the study abroad experience, parents must proactively supporting their children to figure out the best study abroad program for them (not for you); and why it is the best.
Be a good listener when your children discuss with you their thoughts and ideas. Give them the appropriate guidance and don't rush for making a decision. Once your children have made a decision, give them the right amount of support. Encourage them to stand up in front of any challenge; join them to find out more about the host country and school and help them to be well-prepared. Nurture them to be an independent and responsible person. Let them understand they have been given the freedom to make their own decision; so they have to be responsible for that and face the outcome. Instead of telling them they can just leave their mess behind, because you will always be there to clean it up for them.
During the Study
You should support your children - Study abroad is a wonderful thing happens to your children. As long as the school is involved, you should feel comfortable and encourage your children to go out and explore. Instead of buying a plane ticket within 24 hours from departure and bring your kids home just because they made one complaint about their first-time experience.
Keep copy of important documents - Copies of the children's passport, insurance policy, emergency contact, school and course information, etc.
Don't get worried if your children have not contacted you on the first few days - As long as you are confirmed by the airline companies that the flight is landed safety, try to stay positive even if you haven't heard from your children for one or two days. You can contact the international office or student hostel of the host school to make sure your children have arrived. They may have problem with their cellphone and Internet. After all, things can be different from expectation when you arrive to a new place. They may be as frustrated as you and can't wait any longer to hear your voice again. They just need more time to sort out the communication matter. Your children are not trying to run away from you.
Help your children as well as the schools - Learn about the host country and school, and tell them what you have found out to your children. Increase their knowledge and interest about the new place. Help them to prepare for culture shock and any other difficulties. Enable them to try to solve the problem by themselves first, instead of bringing it to the schools no matter what.
If you want to go visit - Plan about it as early as possible. Again, it is a very good chance to let your children to become independent and able to make plan or work with a plan. I have met many students who have not spent any time at all checking the academic calendar of the host school before they arrive. Then the follow up question will be where I can find the academic calendar? Instead of trying to find it themselves. So tell your children to obtain the academic calendar and make your visiting plan together. Don't just drop in anytime you want. Like when they are at home school, you need to work together to make sure they will have time for you. Don't turn such a nice, warming gesture into some unwelcoming disturbance.
Other tips for parents who's kids are going to study abroad:
They will call you when they need you; don't worry if they don't call you everyday and you don't need to call them everyday.
Let them take care of the issues in schools, including their roommates. Otherwise, they will be laughed by everyone in the dorm after.
If you have the luxury, visit the country and school with your kids in advance so that they can fit in with the new environment easier and faster later. Then you don't need to go with them during the moving-in period later; which, some of them may feel embarrassed.
If you are really anxious, try to find out if there are other parents who kids have studied in that school overseas before. It is better to talk and show your anxiety to them, rather than in front of your kids.
There are times that your involvement will be necessary indeed. For example, if your child needs special attention such as medical concern, it will be the time for you to alert the school beforehand and make sure the school understand everything. Your kid may be a little shy to ask everything they should be provided by the school in case like this.
Be a good listener and adviser by preparing to get the emotional phone call from your kids as it may happen from time to time. Don't make them feel even worst by getting panic when they cry for help.
Care about their academic, financial and lifestyle expectations, coach them whenever appropriate but don't decide for them. They are grown up now.
Keep them informed anything interesting and important happened at home.
Be impartial. When your kid complain about the school, professor or roommate, try to understand the problem and ask your kid to be honest instead of building an impression in mind already that it MUST be the school / professor / roommate's problem. You are helping your kid to enjoy his or her time in school, not to create enemies.
Expect your kid may have changed when he or she visit or back home after. He or she is now an independent adult and he or she may expect something different from you at home as well. Talk to each other, it is always the antidote of everything.
So what type of parent you wanna be? (The Naked Roommate: For Parents Only)
Helicopter Parent - hovering and always fixing
Lawnmower Parent - mowing everyone down
Bulldozer Parent - destroying everything
Blackhawk Parent - extreme helicopter parent, going to destroy everything
Blue Angel Parent - zooming in unexpectedly
Stealth Parent - secretly hovering
Stroller Parent - wanting your kid to be independent, but not letting him alone
Lion Parent - roaring and tearing everything
Wolf Parent - destroying everything with other parents; probably the mot unwelcomed
Mosquito Parent - always poking around and irritating everyone
August, 2017 (Version 6.0);
since January 01, 2007
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