This week we highlight the challenges of moving with children. In a past blog I shared how my own past move impacted my daughter, and shared some tips to avoid adding to the stress of relocating an entire family. This article will focus on some great information on selecting that new school, when is the best time to begin and ties in directly with The Stephen Cooley Real Estate Show episode airing next week on the same topic.
We already know that a major move – especially one that entails our kids changing schools – can create anxiety, depression and stress. Research has also shown that doing so mid-year can ramp those emotions up even further as kids then have a harder time assimilating into a peer group and culture that has in many ways already established itself. If at all possible – and unfortunately often it’s not – try to plan the move so that your children can end the year and get closure at one school, and start a new year fresh in their new environment. Even jumping in after a natural break – Winter or Spring Break for instance – can create a more natural point to jump in.
Additionally, parents worry if they’ve even chosen the RIGHT new school for their kids. Thankfully, if you’re researching where specifically to land, and quality of schools is important, there are great resources out there to help. One of the most comprehensive and widely used is GreatSchools. Using this website you can see an overall national rating assigned to each school based on a variety of different criteria. You can drill down on test scores, demographic make up, special needs programs and classes specific to Arts and Entertainment or Technology. School size, average classroom size and more are updated regularly in order to give you an indication of what attending would be like. Although I felt it was an amazing resource – just remember – our kids are more than the sum of their test scores. Other factors will help you determine whether your child is a “fit” for the school and vice versa.
So once you’ve selected the school and did your best to start at the beginning of the year, find a natural break or were forced to jump right in, here are some suggestions and things to remember, that may help lower the level of pain:
- Schools follow different curriculums even at the same grade level. Try to meet with your child’s teachers and counselors. Math, science and social studies at different schools follow a different path. This could lead to your child being significantly behind her new peers or surprisingly ahead of pace. Most likely both. If you have the benefit of time, get ahead of the game and learn before school starts. Any complaining from your kid will pale in comparison to the feelings of ineptitude they may face if they start off behind. Check your new school’s website as well. Homework, lesson plans and additional resources are often uploaded specific to each teacher and each class that will help them catch up quickly.
- Visit the school with your kids. Seeing the school, walking the halls, meeting with staff and teachers prior to that first day will at least reduce the mystery. Knowing where the cafeteria is, what wing they’ll be located in, general layout may help them feel a little more comfortable.
- Get involved. Get wired in. Know how to best communicate. Studies have shown that the more involved with a school the parents become, the more successful the student. Reach out to the PTO, volunteer when possible. Attend open houses and set up conferences with teachers and counselors. Also get familiar with the school and district website, Parent Portal, possibly even an app for your phone. Finally know how best to communicate. Email blasts, automated phone calls, website information and emails. Be in the know so that you know first hand what events/tests/vacations are on the horizon.
- Be positive. You will be nervous. So will your sons/daughters. It’s normal. It’s expected. Don’t show it. Although it’s fine and even recommended that you acknowledge their fear, YOU have to convey a feeling of optimism and confidence. They will absolutely follow your lead on this.
- Finally – Bribe ’em. New puppy, kitten or laptop? Video game, doll or TV in their room? Full disclaimer – this is not a researched or psychologist recommended tactic or suggestion. This is simply advice from one parent to many. Bribery works. Fix your budget, consult with your spouse/significant other if needed. But give ’em something good. It works.
If this article has been helpful, we have more resources available in our offices as well. Specifically, copies of two great books, We Are Moving by Mercer Mayer, and Moving With Kids by Lori Collins Burgan can be provided to you at no charge. Contact one of our agents to learn more.
Leave your comments below and help us start a discussion if you’re so moved 🙂