For parents, moving schools comes with its fair share of challenges. But only YOU can make the transition easier on your kids. Here's how.
Moving schools can be quite challenging for kids, especially as they get older and make the transition in the middle of the academic year.
In such cases, they’re not only forced to adjust to a new neighbourhood, but may even face issues with their studies.
Moving schools: How to help your kids adjust
However, as parents you can make this transition easier on them. Begin by analysing the challenges that your children may face when they move cities or countries. Here are a few things you might notice:
- Your child may experience difficulty in accepting the change and adjusting to the new neighbourhood.
- Courses in the new school might repeat what your child already knows.
- Their individual needs might get sidelined as you get busy settling down.
- It may take a while for them to make new friends.
- A new language other than their mother tongue might make it difficult for them to adjust.
- The new climate may not agree with their health, and stress could make it even more difficult.
Such an analysis can guide you on ways to create a conducive environment for your child. Once you know where the problem lies, you can work with your child on a solution.
In order to get a better perspective, it’s best to involve your kid in every step of this move.
How to make the transition easier on your kid
By involving your kid in this big change, you will help him see the positive and exciting aspects of making the transition to a new school. It will also make him happy to know that his needs are a priority for the family.
Here are some simple ways to involve your child into the moving school process:
- Discuss the plan to move with your child a little ahead of time.
- Show enthusiasm about the move.
- Ask him to list all the things he wants to see in his new school.
- Now ask him to make a list of all the things he is looking forward to in the new neighbourhood.
- Also make sure he lists the things that scare him most about the move. Take some time out to discuss these with him separately.
- List the schools that you have selected for him, and show them to him. While younger kids may get attracted by the new building, older kids might want to check out the new school first. So take them along, if possible. This way you can also see the facilities first hand.
When you discuss the big move with your child – both its pros and cons – observe your child’s body language closely. Does he seems excited or apprehensive (or both)? Once you have a sense of how he feels, you can encourage or reassure him accordingly.
It’s also best to let your child know your own feelings. This can be quite comforting to him. And it helps them see your effort to make everything work.
How to prepare yourself if your child is moving schools
Now as far as moving schools is concerned, you can prepare a checklist and divide it into ‘before’ and ‘after.’ Here are a few things to note in your checklist for both scenarios:
Your child’s previous school community
- Inform your school principal and teachers beforehand about the move.
- Make sure to request for a portfolio for your child. This should include his achievements and accomplishments.
- Make a list of contacts from your child’s old school, including teachers, friends and fellow parents.
- Create a scrapbook for your child. Include pictures and goodbye notes from his friends and teachers.
- Make sure to share your new address with all your child’s friends and their parents. Ask them to stay in touch.
- Make sure to check your child’s progress in his academics before the big move. This way you can follow it up with the new school, and he can start exactly where he left off.
- You can donate your child’s old school uniform to the school before you leave.
- Clear any formalities and paperwork the school wants you to do and arrange a small farewell for your child.
Once you have reached your new neighbourhood and are ready for your child to start school there, be sure to follow up on a few crucial things before his first day.
Your child’s new school community
- Inform the new school principal and talk to them about your expectations.
- Ask about the academic strategies to help your child.
- Make sure to take note of security measures in place.
- Buy the new school uniform and books, as instructed by the principal.
- Spend the day with your child at his new school. Take him around and show him the facilities. Request the school for somebody to accompany the two of you so your child can navigate the place on his own.
- Talk to the new teachers and tell them a little about yourself and your kid. Perhaps your child can also meet some of his classmates.
- If your child has special needs you can meet the teacher who will look after him. You can also check out the support programmes that the school runs for such kids. In case you are moving countries, you might want to check beforehand if the school has facilities to help your kid.
- If you feel your child could face language barriers, make sure to check that beforehand as well. Indicate to the school that your child is comfortable in one particular language so that they can provide help when needed.
Once you have relocated, give your child some time to settle in and get excited about his new school. Since you have already taken him around, chances are he will want to immediately go to the school and make new friends.
So keep the enthusiasm up by sharing information about the school as well.
Age-wise tips for moving schools
So far we have given you some generic rules for kids of all ages. But we also want to share some practical tips with you from preschoolers to secondary school students.
1. Pre-schoolers moving school
Kids who are younger than six years of age are easiest to move. They are able to make new friends easily and adjust to a new place without showing much resistance. That’s because they have a limited capacity to fully grasp what is happening.
But still, your support and guidance can make the transition really easy on them. Here are a few practical ways to help pre-schoolers move from one school to the next:
- Make everything simple and clear. Tell them about the place they are going to and the school that awaits them.
- Use a relatable story to explain the reason for the move.
- While packing your toddler’s toys, they might think that you are throwing them away. So reassure your child that you are simply taking his friends to their new home.
- If you are moving schools close by, take their toys to your new home one at a time. This will help them relax about their toys. Sometimes toddlers like to take one toy or book along, so take it with you when you visit the new school.
- Introduce him to his new preschool teacher and classmates. Taking his toys or something that reminds him of you can help him calm down in the new school.
- Most importantly, take each day as it comes. Ask him about his day, his new friends and teachers, and what he likes best about the new school.
2. Primary schoolers moving school
By the age of eight, most kids understand how to make new friends. Some even have ‘best friends’ at this age, and so a transition to a new school may become slightly difficult for them.
But they will still be open to the change. Here are a few practical things you must keep in mind while moving schools with your primary schooler:
- Ideally, you should avoid moving schools in the middle of the school year. This not only disrupts their academics, it also makes it difficult for them to catch up in the new school because they feel alone.
- The middle of the calendar year is a good time to make the move because it is disruption free. Your child can also make new friends during the free summer period.
- Make sure to be ready with documentation for your ward so that he can immediately join his new school.
- Make sure you clarify the reasons you had to make this move and suggest ways for him to make new friends. You can also organise a small get together with his classmates and their parents. That way, everybody will get to know your child better.
3. Secondary schoolers moving school
Now, if your child is over the age of 10, he is old enough to resent moving to a new place and a new school. By this age, your preteen has already invested an incredible amount of time and energy into his close group of friends at school. So he may not welcome this move at all.
A sudden move might also mean that he will miss an important social event at school. So begin by being open, then reason with him about the move.
- If you suddenly decided to move schools, then you have to come clean and explain the reason to your child.
- Make sure that your move doesn’t disrupt his academic year. But if it cannot be helped, then you will have to come up with a plan so that your child is able to cover what he may have missed. Arrange for additional classes or private tuition, if needed.
- It will also be tough for your child to immediately adjust to the new school culture. So discuss any problem he may be facing at school. There is a good chance he may not share most things with you, but be persistent.
- Assure your child that you are there for him.
- As for academics, make it a point to check your child’s performance in the new school to make sure it is the right place for him to excel.
Moving cities or countries can never really be a smooth ride. It always comes with its fair share of challenges. As a military child and now married to a military man, I know that moving schools is a part of my life. And just as I adjusted, my son will also have to adjust to these new changes.
But always try to put a positive spin to any move or relocation. After all your kids will immediately pick up on your vibes. And if you are not happy with the move, they won’t be either. So for them to move easily, you have to move easily as well.