When you have kids who are in school, moving can be almost twice as difficult because the timing has to be just right. The most optimal time to move with children would be that small window of time during the summer, from about July to September, when they're home on summer vacation. However, not everybody has the luxury of choosing when they want to move.
What if you're forced to move in the fall or the spring because you're being relocated for work? If that happens, then you won't have too much of a choice regarding when to move and you'll have to pull your kids out of one school and have them start at another school in a new, unfamiliar town in the middle of a school year. Of course this isn't an easy thing to do, for you or your kids, but sometimes it has to be done, so here are some tips and advice for what to do if you have to move during the school year.
Leaving your old school
Preparing your kids to move isn't easy. Depending on how old they are, they'll likely already have a group of friends that they won't want to leave behind. It's difficult for young kids to leave their friends, especially at an early age, because of the connection that they develop and the fact that young kids get easily attached. What's even harder is preparing your kids to leave their school when they move.
Not only is school the primary place where they see their friends every day, but it's also the place that's become almost like a second home for them, no matter what their feelings about school may be. Your children spend a significant amount of time in school each day, and thus they've gotten to know their teachers and the hallways of their school very well. The familiarity of their school and their daily routine has most likely become comforting to them, and so it's hard to remove them from that comfort and place them in a new and strange situation.
The best way to go about preparing your kids to leave their school is by letting them know about the move as far in advance as possible. While you may think that telling them about the move at the last minute will be like "ripping off a band-aid" in that it won't allow them to dwell on the disappointment of leaving, it won't help your kids at all in the long run. Giving them enough time to think about the move and mentally prepare themselves, as well as to say goodbye to their friends and teachers is the best way to do it.
Also, by preparing as far in advance as possible, you can work with the school to make your kids' transition go as smoothly as possible. Usually when you prepare to transfer your kids to another school, you'll need to obtain their school transcripts from the office or the school guidance counselor. Also, it helps to speak with your children's teachers to take note of what they have already covered in class up to that point, so you'll know where your children stand as far as their learning goes when they begin at their new school.
Finding and enrolling in a new school
Once you have decided to move and you have come to the decision that it will take place during the school year, you should begin looking at the schools in the area of where you will be moving. If you haven't decided on a town or neighborhood yet, it's a good idea to look at the schools in the area and choose based on the quality of the school and the quality of the education your children will receive. If you have already chosen where you will be moving, then your best bet will be to do some research into the local schools.
For grade schools and most middle schools, where you live will typically determine what school your child attends. However, parents usually have more of a choice when it comes to high schools and private schools.
When you have found the school your child will be attending when you move, call them up and speak with the guidance counselor about enrolling your child so that the transition can be smooth once you arrive. You want to make the transition as seamless as possible to reduce the amount of stress your child will be under from the move. Let the guidance counselor know where your child left off in his or her curriculum at their old school and discuss the options available for which classes to take.
Once you arrive after your move, you want things to be easy for your children when they are adjusting to their life in the new school, and you don't want them to have too much missed work to catch up on, which can stress them out even further and cause their grades to slip.
Transitioning to a new school
Moving to a new town and enrolling your kids in a new school is more than just having them show up one day with their pencil case and binder and sit down in class. There's a process to transitioning your children to a new school that involves some preparation and planning.
It's not likely that your children are going to begin classes in their new school picking up right where they left off in that year's curriculum at their old school. There may be some overlap involved, or the classes in the new school may be slightly ahead of where your children were when they left. There should be some coordination with your kids' teachers before you arrive in your new town to discuss where the class is in their learning and what your children have to catch up on, if they need to catch up at all. This will ensure that your children don't fall behind in class after you move.
Also, if you are not moving too far away, it might be a good idea to take your kids to see their new school before you move, so they can meet with some of their teachers and take a look around the school to become familiar with the hallways and where their classrooms are located.
Getting your kids setttled in
Even after you've moved and all of the necessary transitioning from the old school to the new school has been completed, the work doesn't stop there. Monitor your children closely and keep an eye on how they are adjusting to the new school and adapting to their new life in an unfamiliar town. Moving can be hard on kids, especially young kids, so you need to make sure that the stress that the move has put on them isn't negatively affecting their schoolwork or their social life.
Encourage them to make new friends and meet new people by volunteering for after school programs at their new school and get to know some of the other parents in town as well so you can coordinate activities and get-togethers.