By Melia Hord, Your Real Estate Agent of Choice – Keller Williams Greater Lexington
Oh the joys of summer… late mornings sleeping in for the children; days at the pool, and maybe a summer vacation away!
But this year you decided to move!!! Whether you are moving across town, across the state or across the country, moving means turning your life upside down! There seems to be an endless list of decisions to make for you and your family. You have spent all summer planning your “move” from one home to another. And if moving wasn’t stressful enough for a parent, moving to a new neighborhood and moving your children to a new school is a double whammy!
Finding a new school for your child/children is one of the biggest stressors that can send a parent over the edge! There is a laundry list of decisions to make just on deciding on the school: Public or Private? Traditional or alternative approach? Which neighborhood do I choose to go to the best school? Will they like the school you pick? Moving may seem like an impossible transition for your children, but it is not. With a little preparation on your part and taking the time to do a few simple things, you can make a smooth transition for your child/children to make a new home and a new school an easy adjustment
Here are a few steps you can take to prepare your child for moving to a new school:
First – Understand your child’s personality and temperament:
Moving for a parent is difficult but it is even more difficult on a child. It is important to understand your child’s temperament and how they react to change. Take some time out to think about how your child adapts to change: Do they move from grade to grade well? Do they run from one friend’s house to the other? Are the comfortable in new environments? Or do they get upset with schedule changes? Do they prefer to interact only with one friend? Do they like to stay home in familiar settings?
This “double transition” to a new home and a new school undoubtedly requires extra preparation. Talk about the change. Discuss the new school. Allow them to talk about their fears and concerns. For the child that that adjusts to change easily use your basic instincts as a parent. For the child that doesn’t adjust to change well, make sure to spend extra time practicing the new routine and transition.
Practice the new school route from your new home.
Change is stressful for everyone. So start making the new school part of your child’s routine before school starts! Whether you your child will ride a bus or you will drive them to school each day, be sure to take time to show your child the new route to school. Children find security and comfort in knowing the exact trip ahead of time. As you drive the new route, point out “landmarks” and talk about the different areas you drive through. Point out restaurants or stores he may like, draw his attention to billboard on the road, and discuss the neighborhoods that you pass through so they become familiar with things other kids already know about the area.
Visit the school
Call the school ahead of time and make arrangements to bring your child to school a few days before classes start. Most schools are open a week or two before school officially starts. The principal and his administration are sensitive to new students relocating to their school. Typically schools are accommodating to a school visit so your child can see the places that will mean the most to them: the new classroom, the gym, the cafeteria, the playground, and where they will get dropped off each morning.
Talk to some teachers
Introduce your child to some teachers. As a parent you want to try to do your homework by talking to neighbors, friends and family or other parents about the teachers at the school. Try to find the teacher that is the most outgoing and friendly so your child has the best first impression and finds comfort with the new staff. Your concern isn’t whether or not your child engages in a conversation with the teacher but rather connecting with a teacher that creates a sense of comfort and excitement for your child. A great place to seek advice is the schools local website. Look up the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA or PTO) and call the President for some insight into the school dynamics.
Connect with your neighbors
Every parent knows that connecting with other parents is the best source of information. For a child, connecting with other children is a source of security and acceptance. Host a simple dinner, an ice cream social or an afternoon play date at your house with your new neighbors and their children. This is a perfect way to introduce your children to their peers in the neighborhood in the comfort of their new home. Kids form relationships quickly and all they need is one new friend to take the stress and worry out of how they will transition.
Check out the local community centers, religious communities, and school calendar of events
Get your children and family involved! The quicker you can engage in the community around you, the faster you start calling your new home “home”. Most cities offer a local YMCA, sports leagues, city parks, and community pools. Find your new church and ask about the youth programs and events they offer. Most will help you find the right event to transition your child into the community. And be sure to get on the school’s local website to check out the calendar of events, extracurricular activities and sports programs. Give your child the opportunity to pick out one or two things they would like to participate in and start investigating the signup process or requirements. The sooner they feel like they are involved in activities they love, the sooner they begin to feel at “home”.
Going back to school is always a time of nerves and excitement for both parent and child. Add in the double-edge transition to a new home and a new school and your stress level is heightened. Remember, kids are resilient. No matter how anxious you or your child is, with a little bit of preparation, open conversations, and a whole lot of love, you are well on your way to a smooth transition and the start of some wonderful new memories.