Moving can be a stressful event for the entire family. A parent could be starting a new job; the hassle of packing and unpacking an entire home; and traveling to the new home can all wreak havoc on your happy family. This is especially true if your children will be starting at a new school. Transition is a challenge for everyone, and everyone handles it differently, including children. Here are some tips that will help to make the move a little easier on the kids (and on you!)
If you can, schedule your move before the school year starts. It is more difficult for a child to adjust to a new school in the middle of the school year. If you can, try to schedule the move to take place during the summer so that your children will start the new school year off at a new school. This gives you time to prepare for the transition (using the following tips).
Visit the school with your child in advance. Contact the new school and schedule an appointment with your child’s new teacher/home room teacher and take a tour of the school. If your child is in grade school, visit the new classroom together and find out where your child’s desk will be. If your child is in middle school, try to get a schedule of their classes as early as possible so that you can help them locate each class. Get a map of the school for your child to refer to at home. If your child is in high school, this may not be necessary, but don’t assume that your teen doesn’t need some assistance. Schedule a visit for yourself and your spouse and invite your teen to come along.
Help your child find a new friend. If you are moving to an area where you already have friends, family or acquaintances, try to connect your child to a friend who will either be in their class or grade. It will be helpful for your child to see a familiar face on that first day of school.
Talk about the move. Don’t spring a move on your children at the last minute. Some parents feel as though holding off on letting the children know about a significant move protects them from unneeded stress, when what it really does is reduce the amount of time your child has to adjust to the idea of moving and preparing for a new school. Depending on their age, you should involve your children in the conversation as soon as you can.
Tour the new town. If you can, spend some time in the new town/area you’re moving to with the family. Visit the new home, stop at the local stores/restaurants, check out some of the ‘hot spots’ that are sure to excite the kids. Is there a batting cage? A putt-putt golf course? Does the town have a water park or some other fun spot for kids? Do what you can to make the new area ‘better’ than where you’re living now.
Help your children stay connected with close friends. Make sure your kids know they will be able to visit and see their friends from the old school. Schedule a sleepover or play day with ‘old’ friends during the first few weeks of class at the new school. Encourage your child to invite some of the new friends they have made.
These are just a few ideas you can use to help your child transition to a new town and school. Do what you can to present the move as a good and positive event. As you, certainly, already know – if it’s easier on the kids, it will be easier on you and your spouse!
Sharon Fried Buchalter, Ph.D., is a distinguished clinical psychologist, family/marriage therapist, relationship expert and author. Dr. Sharon has developed revolutionary tools to help couples, parents and families achieve happiness and success. Her book, Children are People Too provides 8 essential steps designed to strengthen families and empower parents to be their child’s life coach and mentor. Her new book New Parents are People Too provides relationship advice for couples entering parenthood for the first time. To order a copy of her books, visit peopletoounlimited.com.
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