A move orchestrated in the middle of the school year can be challenging; scary, and stressful but also exciting. Having school age children, especially teen-age children, can make mid-year moves more trying.
Here are some ideas to help ease the change:
Before you move
Involve your kids in the process. Show them the different neighborhoods that you’re considering and schools that they may attend. Spend time researching neighborhoods where you plan to move and send them to school. Let them be part of this process.
Include them in your hunt for a home. Involve them from the very beginning. They will have a sense of ownership and may even get excited about the move. With all the great home choices, they will be excited about the new house. So, bring them along for the search. Create a sense of adventure.
After a school has been chosen, schedule a visit before the actual move if possible. Get a list of everything they will need beforehand and ensure that you have all the important paperwork already completed. Talk with the superintendent of the school about your concerns about the move or any issues at the old school. Also include in this conversation your child’s strengths, their passions, and what they might miss about their old school. The more the staff knows the easier the transition will be for your child. If possible arrange tour of the school to help ease some of their “I’m going to get lost and feel stupid” concerns.
Open communication is key. Ask the kiddos how they feel. Don’t ignore or discount their feelings. All children are different and react differently to the same situations. Stay as positive as possible, they will pick up on your mood and follow suit.
If you have teens, you know their friends are their world, separating from them will be hard. Ask them how they’d like to say goodbye. Do they want a party, would they like to have a weekend get-together with just a few friends? Then if they want, help them with the plans. And the good news is that with the technology our kids are into, staying in touch will not be a problem. Remind them of all the options to talk to their pals after the move.
During the Move
Assign everyone a job. Once again, remember that they need to feel part of the process. Something as simple as allowing them to pick paint colors for their new rooms is essential. In this way, no one feels left out.
Takes lots of pictures. Photos of the old house, special places in the neighborhood, their friends, anything that will bring back a fun memory. No one judges what is being photographed by anyone. What means something to Johnny may be silly to Susie, take the picture anyway.
Make their room the last to be packed. Then it will be the first to be unpacked. Having all their things right away will make them feel more at home. Encourage them to pack a backpack full of some of their favorite belongings and keep it close during the madness of the move. If you beat the movers to the new house they will still have some familiarity around them.
After the Move
Get everyone involved. Even you. See if there is a parenting group that you can join. Remember you set the precedent. Encourage them to get involved in school and neighborhood activities. Always a great way for them to meet knew friends.
Be neighborly. Host a neighborhood party to provide a venue for your children and you to make new friends and meet your neighbors.
Stay connected to the old friends, while meeting new ones. Get that favorite teachers email so your children can send them updates or messages about their new school.
Remember that every child handles each situation different. Be prepared for the highs and lows. Be positive, it may take an enormous amount of patience in some instances but you got this.
In the end try not to worry. We all know that children are resilient and they will adjust.
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