Myth #1: I’ve heard it’s best to move in time to start your children on the first day of the school year.
We hear this from parents all the time, and they are often surprised to hear that this isn’t always the case. Starting a child on the first day of school ensures that he/she doesn’t miss anything academically and may also be necessary to meet various try-out deadlines for sports teams and other extra curricular pursuits. However, depending upon each child’s situation, starting after the first day often makes for the smoothest social transition. On the first day students are excited to re-connect with their classmates and catch up on the summer. They are less aware of new students and thus less inclined to reach out to befriend them in those first days. After a few weeks, once the initial excitement has died down, new students often have an easier transition time socially. Additionally, starting a student a few weeks in to the school year often doesn’t put them that far behind academically. Clear breakpoints in the school year can also be a good time to transition as well. That being said, each student is unique and each school has it’s own way of transitioning new students, so take the time to research and talk out the options.
Myth #2: Kids are resilient, they’ll be just fine.
Moving is listed as one of the most stressful life events for kids. This does not mean it cannot be done in a healthy way, but it does necessitate understanding and acknowledging the mental and emotional challenges kids experience during and after relocation. Moving puts children in a position where their lives and routines are uprooted without any say on their part. This tumult and lack of control can combine to create anxiety or sadness. The good news? It has been shown that parents who take an active approach to their child’s emotional transition can mitigate many of the negative impacts of moving (that’s the foundation of what we are all about here at EES!). And moving does bring with it some benefits as well!
Myth #3: Kids have it the hardest during the move.
On the flip side of things, we can often worry so much about your children’s adjustment that we overlook ourselves or our partner’s transition. The trailing spouse (the spouse whose job did not necessitate the move) also faces unique challenges during a family relocation. Often the trailing spouse uproots his or her life and moves to a new area without a built in community to join upon arrival (which a job or a school offers to the other spouse and to their children). The trailing spouse needs to ensure that they take care of their own needs (like building out a support network) even in the midst of supporting the family’s transition. It’s critical that the parents work to mutually support one another.
Myth #4: The kids don’t need to concern themselves with the move, it will be easiest if we take care of it all.
Having their lives flipped upside down can be very unnerving for kids. Your goal, as parents, is to listen to them and support them. Ways you can actively help them deal with the move include involving them throughout to give them a sense of control over parts of the situation. From house hunting to bedroom decorating to researching the area or exploring the new neighborhood, find small ways to involve them to make it feel more like an adventure.
Myth #5: The school will take care of placing the kids in to the correct classes and identifying curriculum gaps.
Schools have their own systems and may overlook your previous district’s assessments so it is important to take the time to understand the new school’s placement system and to touch base regularly both with your child and with the new teachers to ensure proper placement. While it may be time-consuming to do so, go through the assessment process with the new school. Bring all previous records, make a case for what you believe the correct placement to be, and monitor how your child adjusts once settled in to classes. Get to know their teachers, and find out next steps if your child has been misplaced. Identify any curriculum gaps with them and touch base to see if others arise. From there you can figure out how to best address these gaps (tutor, teacher, parent, self study). Relocating should only temporarily disrupt your child’s academics and, with a little time and effort, should be easy to overcome as your child begins to settle in to the new school system.
Moving with kids can be a challenge, but can also be a great chance for new adventures and new opportunities. The key is knowing what to expect as well as informing and involving yourself as parents to support your child through the transition. For more information on moving with kids, check out The Essential Moving Guide For Families.