Helping Children through Moving and Transitions

Miss Kelli presented this topic on The Rhode Show. Click here to watch this episode of The Modern Parent.

The transition of moving is stressful on the entire family.  The boxes, the mail forwarding, the new neighborhood and all the other exhaustions of the move can take its toll on everyone.  But there are stresses involved with your children as well.  The new neighborhood may mean a new school for your child.  Regardless of their age, children feel change and can react in a variety of ways.  It is important for parents to keep their child(ren) informed each step of the way.  The best prevention of negative emotions during a move to a new school is to prepare children in any way possible.  Here are a few ways to prevent adding stress to your child’s move and to ease him or her into a positive outlook in the new classroom.

· New classrooms mean new teachers.  Try to reach out to the school department to see in which classroom your child will be placed and the teachers he or she will have.  Making a visit to the classroom for an hour or two with your child may help transition him or her to be left there for the full day.  Always let your child know who will be picking them up each day.  It is important that children understand the temporary nature of being left at school even if they do not yet understand time concepts. 

· Socialize with families in the neighborhood and introduce your children to theirs.  If your neighborhood does not seem to have that type of community, finding parks and amusements in the area can give your child a sense of enjoyment that may stabilize their feeling of belonging. 

· Take some time off around your move date.  It is not always possible to head out to explore in the first few weeks of moving.  But after some time has passed and your child has grown accustomed to the school or area, take a small vacation away.  When you return, you would be surprised what your child expresses about heading back to his or her classroom.  Often they will react as though they have been there for longer!

· Knowing your child’s individual temperament is paramount to easing them into their new school.  If you know your child will transition well and have little issue with new people and new classmates, then do your best to make them aware of how proud you are of their adjustment. If your child does not react in a positive way to change, ease them in with visits to the area prior to the move date and conversations (depending on age) that help them to see your support. 

· Join a group or club or area network with your child.  Enrolling them in programs outside of school that are voluntary and fun will help your child meet new friends that he or she may not have at school. It is also a great way to set up play dates or carpools with area families.

Don’t forget the old friends! Your child is likely to remember the friends from the former school for a long time.  Try to communicate with families of those children before you move. Gather email information or phone numbers and keep in touch. If your move is not too far from where you previously lived, set play dates or dinner dates with those families to keep your child aware of their presence.  Children can make surprisingly quick adjustments and seeing old friends can surely help the process.

The stress of moving is one of the toughest steps for a family.  But avoiding the stress felt by your child in a new school can help the entire family.  Having a happy and content child can ease so much of the pressure on the parents.  Little adjustments and steps along the way can do wonders for the next step of your child’s growth and education.

This blog was written by Mark Sullivan. Mr. Mark has been a Certified Teacher at The Children's Workshop since 2011. He has worked at five different locations in all classrooms. Mark is pursuing his certifications for Lead Teacher and Director as well as his degree in Education and Management. He lives in Providence, RI.