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We (2 parents, 1 child) are moving to a foreign country with a three-year old, who can't speak the local language. What are the pros and cons of the child starting in daycare immediately or very soon after we get there, when the other option is to wait for some time (two weeks, say) before starting the daycare?

One of the parents will be unemployed to start with, so not starting daycare immediately is an option for us.


Languages: We all speak Finnish. The adults speak good English, some Swedish, varying amounts of Japanese and a little bit of French, and are learning Danish. The daycare will be in Danish and include English lessons.

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The way I see it, it's a band-aid problem regarding the amount of stress the child will be under. Do you rip the band-aid off, or take it off bit by bit?

The concern I'd have with keeping the child at home then starting daycare is that it gives the child time to see home as their safe place after a strange and tumultuous move. While not a bad thing in and of itself, when the time comes for the child to leave for daycare I imagine the child will be more resistant as they've already been upended once, and now have what little regularity they've found in the new home completely disrupted. They will be loathe to leave the house (which is somewhat familiar) and the parent (who is very familiar).

More information on how your child handles minor changes now could help identify how they'll react to the big change now, but I believe it would be best to start the child on daycare right away.

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I would look at whatever reduces everyone's stress the most. Being around 3 year olds, my experience is, they don't seem to be bothered if they cannot verbally communicate much with other children. They play with nonverbal children just fine, they play with kids with other languages fine. I think they are still young enough that they still recall how to get by with no words exchanged, so the language barrier isn't something that would cause me much concern about stressing a child out. An older child I might wonder on it, but not at 3. At 3 they jump right in to interacting with other kids whether they are talking in full conversations or none at all.

If the parent would like that time with the child, then I say wait. They are little for such a short time that any extra time you get to spend with them is a lovely thing. If however that parent will be busy trying to settle the new home, make arrangements for work and be mostly really busy with a child kind of underfoot, then I would opt for the daycare. That is why I said the part about stress. Moving is stressful for everyone, so I would simply focus on whatever reduces that.

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  • Agreed, do what is best for the children. They are flexible to a point. – user29389 Aug 31 '17 at 18:24

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