What is Transition?

“Transition is the process of adapting to the changes we experience.” (Third Culture Kids ). At ISO this is experienced largely through the introduction of a new school culture whether you are arriving, leaving or staying. A strong, healthy transition is stable, comfortable and self-assured.

Types of Transition:

  • Moving Countries/Changing Schools
  • Elementary School to Middle School
  • Middle School to High School
  • High School to University
  • Staying in one location while others move on
  • Transitioning between classes at school
  • Changes in family structure

ISO’s Role

  • Promoting overall social-emotional health, self-care, family care, peer care, and institutional/organizational care

  • Transitions Team:

    • Consisting of faculty members, administration, students and parents
    • “Building a bridge from ‘here’ to ‘there’ and back again” (Third Culture Kids) by:
      • Providing a welcoming atmosphere for our community
  • Educating ourselves about transitions-related considerations within an international school context (Safe Passage, Third Culture Kids)
    • Collaborating amongst stakeholders to provide a transition-informed environment
    • Celebrating our arrivers, leavers and stayers through orientation programs, school-wide assemblies and events
  • For those Arriving…
    • Initial French language training covered for incoming staff to help them acclimatize rapidly
    • Open communication with admissions office and Community Relations Office
    • New Family Orientation
    • Detailed information provided in digital handbooks for students, faculty and board members
  • For those Leaving…
    • End of Year Assembly Celebration and Awards
    • Group and Individual Counseling sessions around the subject of transition
    • College and Career counseling to support students as they approach graduation.
  • For those Staying…
    • Year round transition activities to support our community (parents, students, staff)
    • “Move to the Middle” for rising 6th graders
    • 8th grade celebration marks the transition from Middle to High School.

What to Pay Attention To:

Examples of practical adjustments one has to make in transition:

  • The physical body must adapt to climate, time zone, school schedule, etc
  • Our thinking must adjust as language, culture and expectations change
  • Emotions are in flux as both loss and excitement co-exist
  • Our social lives tilt and remix in new ways
  • Our beliefs and inner identity shift.
  • How Parents can Help

Belonging to family is critical → ‘portable traditions’; normalizing mobility

Build your R.A.F.T.

  • Reconciliation - it is common to pull away as a major change approaches. Leaving problems behind rather than resolving them will make your transition more difficult. Work towards developing a sense of peace with the people in your life.
  • Affirmation - let the meaningful people in your life know that you appreciate them and that you will miss them.
  • Farewell - while it is often painful to say goodbye, not doing so can cause you to carry regret or a lack of closure. It is important to allow yourself to feel the pain of loss in order to move through your transition. Make the time to say goodbye.
  • Think Destination - if you are moving, learn about the place you are moving to. If you are staying, think about how things will change and how you might make new friends.
Amber Godfrey,
ISO Social and Emotional counselor

Further Helpful Resources for Parents:

See below for links to articles related to: Empowering parents during transition/Depression/Adjusting/Social and Emotional learning in the holidays/Tips

This term, ‘Third Culture Kids’, was coined in the early fifties by sociologist Ruth Hill Useem after spending a year on two separate occasions in India with her three children.

Initially they used the term "third culture" to refer to the process of learning how to relate to another culture; in time they started to refer to children who accompany their parents into a different culture as "Third Culture Kids." Useem used the term "Third Culture Kids (TCKs)" because TCKs integrate aspects of their birth culture (the first culture) and the new culture (the second culture), creating a unique "third culture".

At ISO we understand the challenges facing these TCKs from many angles: not only are many of our students TCKs but, so too, are many of our staff and their own children. Much of what we value in our learning programmes is designed specifically to meet the needs of children who have lived and learned in many different cultures and in different languages. Our Language programmes are designed to meet the specific language development needs of children for whom English is not their mother tongue or dominant language and our belief in the value of multilingualism to a child’s cognitive development sees us offering second and third language acquisition and development opportunities.

In addition, our extensive After School Activities, Arts and Athletics programmes are designed to ensure our young global nomads also have the opportunities to develop and extend their sporting and fine arts skills beyond the classroom.

Our hope is that they will find within the walls of ISO a learning community in which their distinctive needs are met and their unique experiences valued


Articles to empower and guide parents in helping their children

1. Books on moving and transitions for TCKs


2. The trouble with third culture kids (although geared more toward professionals this article is so well written that may help some parents understand their child’s experience)


3.Building Social and Emotional Learning during the School Holidays


4..Depression and Third Culture Kids


5.Help Your Kid Adjust to a New School After Moving


6. Tips for Teens on Moving to a New House (for students)


7. Essential Tips to Help Kids Settle Into a New School




My two boys came to ISO in August 2014 with very limited English. With the assistance of the experienced teachers, I am pleased to see my boys’ progress in academic performance. They’ve also learned to build their self-confidence and to observe the world with curiosity and positive thinking through various activities organized by the school and Parent Teacher Association. I am convinced that ISO is the best choice for my kids.

Emilie Yung-chieh SHAO, parent of students in Grades 3 and 7 (Taiwan)

Moving to Burkina Faso seems like traveling back in time: the country industrialization is proceeding at a slow pace and nature has still a major role in everyday life.

We’ve had children at the ISO since 2007 and we are happy with the results. We chose this school for our kids because of the environment, which is more suitable for learning when the whole school community knows each other making this school really friendly. The international side of the school with the big diversity of countries make our children experience the different cultures, and view the world from different perspectives instead of seeing it in one way. This will help to prepare them to be citizens of the world.

Antoine and Rackel Azar, parents of ISO student in Grades 9 (Lebanon)

Living in Burkina Faso requires some adjustments, but for expats willing to try something new and adventurous, this is definitely a good option: the country boasts of enchanting landscapes and a couple of bigger cities.

When we moved to Ouagadougou, ISO was the obvious choice for us, as it is close to our house in Zone du Bois and our children are native English speakers. We also felt that the American/international, child-oriented, 'learn to learn' curriculum would suit the needs of our two boys best. We since learnt that the ISO is a very welcoming and caring community, where pupils and parents find their meeting point. The school has been helpful and accommodating to extracurricular needs like speech therapy. The after school activities offer an attractive and convenient opportunity for the children to learn and practice a sport, art or skill under the supervision of the school community. We feel happy and confident to leave our children in the ISO compound as safety and security, in the widest sense, have always been a high priority of ISO. We decided to sign up our youngest child, who had been doing maternelle/nursery school at a local French school, for PRE-K in ISO for all these reasons, as well as the convenience to have our boys at the same school - with synchronized rosters.

Geoff and Astrid Power, parents of students in Grades 1 and 4.