By Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group
Fact. Not all moves happen at a convenient time. In fact, with over 36 million people in the US moving
every year (roughly 10% of the population), it would be fair to say that it would be impossible for most moves to happen when it suits everybody.
Most adults are fine with whatever, but when you throw kids into the mix, things get a little complicated. Most parents have it in their heads that you can't move during the school year, that it's too tough to integrate into the classroom once school has started. However, many families who have made a move mid-year have found the transition much easier and smoother than they were expecting. Here's how and why.
Teachers are Already in Their Groove
Consider the chaos of fall back to school--teachers are learning an entire new class, kids are adjusting to new teachers and schedules, and everybody is cranky because summer is over. Now think about if you introduce your child to a new environment in October or January--the teacher has figured out the dynamics of the class and has the bandwidth to give extra attention to your child. Compare that to your child being just one more face and name to learn, and the advantages of a mid-year move become clearer.
New Kids Get Lots of Attention
Kids get bored with their classmates quickly, so your child adds some interest to an otherwise boring classroom. They're new, exciting, and different--even if you just came from a few miles away, there is something exotic about the new kid--so many families find an easier social adjustment than they expected, too.
Elementary and some middle schools will sometimes pair you up with a buddy family to show you the ropes and introduce you--the parents--around, and get you acclimated.
Do Your Homework Ahead of Time
Children are remarkably resilient creatures and will get in the social swim of the new school without much trouble. Your job is to ensure that their academic adjustment is as smooth.
As soon as you know your new school assignments, contact the office to not only determine the paperwork you'll need for enrollment, but speak with administrators to get an idea of the academics. If you're moving within a school system you already have a good idea, but if you're moving into a new state or school district, you'll need to ensure your children are where they need to be academically. Any standardized test scores will come in handy to ascertain where your child fits in the new classroom.
If the teaching methods are noticeably different, or the academics are more stringent, you have a couple of options. There are online supplemental programs your child can do at home to get up to speed. Another option is in-person tutoring, which is recommended if there are significant gaps or your child has a different learning style.
When Moving Is Not Ideal For a Child
This is more common with older teens, who are close to graduation. Some families make the difficult decision to leave that child behind, either with other family or a close friend, so they can finish high school. This happens more than you might think, especially with athletes or kids who are academically strong and considering scholarship opportunities--a crucial decision if you are moving out of state.
If you're in this uneasy situation, reassure your child that you'll be there as much as possible for events, sports, and all the other activities that surround a senior year. Enlist the help of grandparents or caregivers to help with younger kids so you can be with your older child for the important stuff. Then, make sure you have their room ready at the new house, because they will come home, wherever you are.
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