When you’re planning a move, it seems there are a million details to think about: from packing to changing billing addresses to cleaning, filling the moving truck and even downsizing. Simply put, the amount of work it takes to relocate can be overwhelming.
But in the midst of packing up your lives, it’s important to remember that your children are moving too, and changing schools can be a very scary endeavor.
Changing homes often means changing schools
For children, the potential impact of changing schools should not be underestimated. In fact, many studies suggest that moving can have a profound and lasting impact on the health and well-being of a child, whether they are in elementary, middle school or even high school. As a parent, you no doubt want this to be a positive experience for your child.
Here are some practical steps you can take to help your child as they change schools.
Involve your child in the process
Experts say to make the switch easier on kids, it’s important to involve them in the process of choosing the school to which they are transferring, as much as possible. This can help them realize that their needs are important to you and will be taken into consideration. This may also help them see some of the thrilling aspects of a new educational adventure.
Now, ask your child to list the things she or he would like to have at their school and the things they are most looking forward to in a new school.
Talk about the hard stuff
With so much to think about, and so much stress, the last thing you may want to do is hash out the tough stuff. But it’s important to help your child feel heard and to help them become comfortable with the idea of switching schools. One option is to encourage your child to write down their worries about changing schools. Then take time to discuss each one of their concerns, so you can help lay them to rest.
Learn as much as possible about the schools in the area you’re moving to
Make a comprehensive list of the schools that are located in the area you’re moving to. Research and discuss with your child the positives and negatives of each school, and if possible, visit each school and their facilities (including extracurricular activity sites) so that your child and you can make an informed decision.
If possible, talk with the principal of the new school and learn about how the school helps new students adjust. And don’t forget to meet your child’s new teacher. If your child has special needs, you’ll also want to look into support programs and offerings that apply to him or her.
When you’ve chosen the school your child will attend, make sure your child knows how to get to and from school to eliminate that worry from their minds.
Encourage your child to embrace their new school
Imagine all that your child is adjusting too—from meeting new people and saying goodbye to their old social network, to learning about a new curriculum, to finding the bathroom in those first days. In the midst of it, encourage them to embrace the excitement of something new. Help them familiarize themselves with their new school, and encourage them to be themselves. You might even want to ask if there are some extracurricular activities they’d like to join.
Remember: adjusting to a new school is part of the process of moving
Moving can be challenging, no matter what your age. For school age children who are about to see most of their world change, that’s especially true. With a little encouragement and help from you, and the use of these practical tips, they’re sure to feel comfortable in their new school in no time at all.