advice needed to help children change schools

jlj48February 23, 2006

We are relocating 1 hour away and due to closing times of homes - selling and buying, we need to move before school year is finished. 13 year old, 8 year old and preschooler will change schools the first week of April. I am concerned that my 13 year old son in particular is going to have difficulty. He is dreading the move. We have offered to get together with friends on the weekend from current city and I have contacted his school and arranged a date to tour the school and meet key people. Does anyone have any suggestions to make this transition easier? We have relocated before, once when he was 5 and again at age 10. It was difficult then too but it was in the summer time. His birthday is that week also so I feel like a heal - like I am ruining his 13th birthday for him. We are trying to put a positive spin on this for them, and we are truly excited about our new house, neighborhood and community, but he is sad to leave his friends. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

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bnicebkind

I am not sure that you should not just commute for the few weeks before school is out, so that your children can start at their new schools when school starts and many kids are making adjustments. you would all need to get up earlier to make this work. My SIL did this when they moved about the same distance...the new house in the new town was not yet ready.

I personally would absolutely NOT do this to my child the week of his/her birthday. It will be hard enough to walk into a new school knowing no one...let alone to spend your birthday, sitting at a table alone feeling uncertain where everything is, alone walking the hallways, etc. This is a situation where I think you need to go out of your way to do what is in your childs best interest. Another friend was in this situation a few years ago, and she and her children stayed with good friends for 3 weeks, before they moved. Put yourself in you childrens shoes and remember what it felt like to be a child in a new school...knowing no one. If you go ahead and do it anyway...please don't do it the week of his birthday.

P.S. this forum is pretty slow...you might consider bringing it up on the forum know as "The Kitchen Table".

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 8:00PM
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shaknzmom

While I agree it MAY be worth it to make the drive, sometimes things like that just aren't possible. The kids will be angry for a while but they are not going to hate you forever for doing this. You're not going to damage them!
When we moved I knew it would be hard for the kids....7th and 4th. The one thing I repeated over and over was, 'Have an open mind. Don't necessarily latch on to the first group that comes along, because those kids are usually friendless for a reason.' I know that sounds bad, but it's the truth. Sure enough! The bullies were the first to make friends...luckily my kids took the time to see all of the kids, and made good decisions.

What your kids need to realize is that life isn't always fair! Somethings are beyond our control...i.e. the closing of a house. It will be tough but your kids will be stronger for it. The first time we moved I went out of my way to make it ssoooo easy for my daughter...consequently she missed out on learning some important skills...i.e. how to make new friends, how to be comfortable enough with yourself to be in an uncomfortable situation and make the best of it. Up until this last move she always expected my husband or I to make everything better...make people like her...keep her out of uncomfortable situations. She was too coddled and she had difficulty getting past it. I didn't do that with my younger one and she can go into a room of strangers and make a place for herself.

As long as you do what you can around home...get them into sports/music instruction/church, etc. then you're doing the right thing. Kids are resilient...they are stronger than most people give them credit for.

For the birthday issue....go out of your way here! Do whatever you can to give him what he wants...it's one day! It shows you're concerned and understand his feelings, while still allowing you to 'be the parent' and make the tough decisions.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 3:37PM
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socks

I wouldn't be too hung up on the birthday angle. As soon as he makes some friends, you can have a pizza party or something.

The awkwardness of that first week is going to be tough. If he is in a school that changes classes during the day, you might want to take another walk around the school after hours to familiarize him with the layout. If he knows his classes, you could even find the rooms in advance.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 7:40PM
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socks

I thought of one more thing...by starting his new school in April, he'll make a friend or two so he will have buddies to be with during the summer.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2006 at 12:30PM
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jlj48

Thank you everyone for your suggestions. bnicebkind: I was all prepared to commute to the new school if he felt like he couldn't do it. But we visited the schools beforehand. We went on lengthy tours, saw our new house and made a fun day of it. Like your suggestied shaknzmom: I just asked them to keep an open mind and we would see what we can do. We had just a couple of moments where my now 13 year old was sad, but I just said to him "you can do this, I know you can. And it's going to be alright, I promise" Then we discussed the postitives of the move and I promised to let him stay connected with old friends on the weekend. And like you suggested socks: I tried not to get too hung up on the birthday thing. It actually worked out pretty well. We moved to our new home on a Friday and his birthday was that Monday. I drove them to our former town so he could go to school there for his last day. We celebrated his birthday as a family that night and had a bigger sleepover with old friends planned for the upcoming weekend. That gave him something to look forward to. But we developed another problem (a good one). By the end of the week, he had already made a really good friend that lives 3 houses down and wanted to invite him too! Anyway, he had a great birthday and all three of the kids have made great adjustments to their schools. (preschool, elementary, and middle). Both elementary schools - former and current have gone out of their way to help my middle son adjust. I only with they did more to help middle schoolers. I know that they could arrange some pen pal writing going on, or a few teachers could at least have e-mailed him to see how he is adjusting. And I think that his current teachers could make some contact with us to welcome us or reassure us of his transition. They just don't do that at this level, at least not the schools around here. I know what you mean shaknzmom about the coddling. I KNOW I have done too much of that with my oldest and my other children handle change much better that he does. And they get along with others better and problem solve easier. I guess it's back to how you learn everything on your first one and the other's benefit from your wisdom. For me it also has alot to do with guilt. It's like if we are not providing that perfect family setting where everything is right and predictable, I feel guilty. But you know, we have given up so much for our kids to have what they do and we do the best we can because we love them. I really need to let it go.
Thank you for your kind words of support. I had posted at the kitchen table forum earlier because this forum just wasn't moving. They have some great people over there too.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 12:11AM
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