Top Tips For Transitioning
to Switzerland with Kids
from Play Space Zurich
Moving home as a family is never easy, but when you’re moving country too, all sorts of different things come into play. A new culture to deal with, different values, different rules, different foods, not to mention a whole new language to get to grips with. Sometimes even the smallest tasks can take the longest time! However, there are great benefits to moving abroad and seeing the world and a successful move can be hugely rewarding for all the family.
We met with the founders of the Play Space, Evangelos Tsempelis and Monica Shah, who regularly welcome new children (and parents) arriving in Zurich from all over the world. We asked them to give us their keys tips for transitioning to Zurich with kids, and this is what they had to say:
Top Tips For Transitioning As A Family
Allow Time and Space
Give yourself time and space to slow down and take in your new environment and enjoy. While it may take a while to feel like you are operating at 100% it is a good time for you and your family to bond together in your new environment without all the pressures of the busy social calendar you may have had back home.
The internet has changed the way we find our info and connect with people who can help us. Join a Facebook group for parents in English and get recommendations for pediatricians, kids activities, or even buy some pre-loved children’s toys and clothes. There are a vast number of resources available including the following:
Build Connections and Go Deeper
While Facebook can offer immediate responses, sometimes for deeper questions that require discussion, we encourage you to get to know your community. Look for centres like the Play Space which offer meet up groups, talks, therapy, play groups, parent and child sessions which will give you space to reflect and transition into Zurich in a meaningful way.
Mindful of Your Inner State
Whether you are new to parenthood or not, there are a lot of exciting and stressful changes when you move to a new country. Sometimes we think we should always feel excited to be living in the centre of Europe or to be a parent. If you don’t it’s ok. Now is the time to explore, connect and talk to others about what you are going through. Stillpoint Spaces offers both online and in person counselling in your own language.
Take Things Step by Step
Think about what your language goals are for your child and make sure you are establishing languages that will keep your child’s educational options open in the future. At Children First, the teaching is designed to mirror the way young children naturally acquire language fluency. In our calm and purposeful environment, little ears get attuned to listening.
With the right guidance, children can learn to express themselves well from a very early age in both English and German. This leads to negotiating skills and in turn to good behaviour.
Many parents are planning ahead better than ever before. Some are even taking intensive German classes before they arrive. However, one plus point is that Zurich is a very multilingual city and English is widely spoken.
If parents are planning to work and their children are in the state school system they would need to pay and arrange lunch and after school care. There are also a number of private bilingual and international schools too. Circle of Schools offers a number of choices.
Learn How to be Safe
Learn what to do in case of an emergency in Switzerland.
Dial 112 for a general emergency.
Dial 144 for an ambulance.
Luitgard Holzleg MD offers regular first aid training sessions in English. It is normal for Swiss children to walk alone to Kindergarten as they have been learning street safety and responsibility from an early age.
Meet Up Groups
For mental support, join a Meet Up group in Zurich. It is great for making friends with kids the same age. For example:
Planning your Move with Emotional Intelligence
Being in touch with the world of emotion as well as planning your move with your rational self will help your child to adjust. Understanding when they feel sad to be missing their friends, house or school and helping them to recognise their own feelings will enable you all to move on from the familiar and face your new family adventure together.
Reflecting on what they want, giving their feelings names and letting them know they are not alone with them makes them less scary. Showing your own emotional side and how you deal with obstacles can teach them perseverance and give them more stamina. Children First has teamed up with Stillpoint to offer two new Parent and Child groups from August 2017.
Get to Know Zurich and Its Culture
Buy a tram ticket and spend a day riding around and getting to know the routes. Or explore the old town on foot. You could event take a tour with guide Bill Hovey on his Fleet of Feet Historical tour.
You can subscribe to NewInZurich to find out what is going on in the city and find great places to eat and drink as well as discover wonderful excursions.
Learn some fun and interesting historical facts about Zurich as you are sure to get visitors and you will soon become your own tour guide whether you want to or not!
Check out books like Chantal Pannozo’s “Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known” or Diccon Bewes’ “Swiss Watching” for valuable insights on living in Switzerland that can help you see the cultural nuances from a different and humorous perspective. You could also take Stadt Zurich’s integration course to learn more about key aspects of Swiss culture or attend the Transitioning in Zurich talks at the American Women’s Club.
We hope you found these tips useful. Play Space offers a new playgroup and centre in Zurich which is like no other. It also offers holistic resources which are not available anywhere else, helping parents become more attentive to the emotional world of their children and allowing them deal with any situation for which they require assistance.
Moving countries and homes can be particularly challenging for some and Play Space understands this and is able to offer therapeutic help for both children and parents when the move is not going as smoothly as you’d like.
Address: Play Space, Englischviertelstrasse 42, 8032 Zurich
Tel: +41 44 252 91 21
This article has been written in collaboration with and sponsored by Play Space