by Gwen Payne
Moving to a new place can present a host of obstacles for the entire family. One of the biggest challenges will be helping your child adjust to a new school in a new place. According to Psychology Today, children can experience a lot of mixed emotions when moving. Along with feelings of sadness about missed friends, they may be stressed and anxious about having to make new friends in a new location, and what their new school may be like.
Of course you’ll need to see to the basics of setting your child up for success at their new school, such as providing them with a fast, reliable internet connection. This is especially true in today’s remote learning environment that the COVID-19 pandemic spurred on, but also important for your kids to stay socially connected when not in school or participating in extracurricular activities. (Be sure to check to see what coverage exists in the area you’re moving to and set up service before moving day.)
Today, The Nanny Institute presents more ways you can help your child successfully integrate into their new environment.
Talk About It
After you’ve taken care to select the best school for your child (hopefully involving them in the decision process), have a conversation with your child about what they are feeling. Ask them questions about what they are thinking and what they are nervous about. Get a good understanding of what concerns they have. Let them express their emotions and fears with you so you can assist them in their transition to a new school and home. Keep following up with them, too, as it may take several weeks or even months before they become fully adjusted.
Explore Your New Neighborhood
One way to help children take the unknown out of a new place is to explore your new neighborhood. Become familiar with the local playgrounds and parks. These can be excellent places to meet other children of similar ages. Education Corner suggests walking the route to school with your child if they will be walking or show them the school bus stop location.
Go with them to their school’s orientation and let them find their classroom and navigate the hallways. Introduce them to their new teachers, who can be a great asset in helping you make sure your child is adjusting accordingly. The more accustomed to what they will experience on their first day of school, the more confident your child will be.
Facilitate Time with Other Children
Making new friends can be challenging for some children. Talk with parents that have children of similar age about arranging playdates. Your child may be more comfortable meeting new people in their home instead of in large groups. Finding social activities to enroll your kids in can also help them make new friends. Making friends before the start of the school year is ideal, if at all possible.
Enrolling them in summer sports leagues or camps can help them enjoy activities they did before the move, along with making new friends and teammates. Being involved in familiar activities and having a friend in the classroom can relieve some of the stress of starting over in a new place and help give your child a great start in their new school. Try to avoid enrolling them into too many activities, as this can be overwhelming.
Keep Your Regular Routine
Another way you can add familiarity in your new environment is by keeping routines and traditions from before the move. A schedule gives a consistent structure for your child to follow and understand what is expected. Adjust your child’s sleep schedule to that of the school year a few weeks in advance to help your child perform well in school and maintain a positive attitude.
Preparing the night before a school day will help your child focus on the day at hand and be more relaxed. It will also help take out some of the morning rush. Organizing clothes, making lunch or giving them lunch money, and packing their backpack the night before will take some of the chaos out of their morning and yours. A consistent sleep schedule, a good breakfast, and designated time after school for familiar activities can help your child feel in control of certain aspects of their new life.
Moving is never easy, but planning ahead of time and organizing can help reduce some of the hardships that children face. Understanding what feelings and concerns they have and allowing them to express themselves can help you face these challenges together. And when you have them actively participate in their new school and community, it will allow them to make new friends and help ease their transition into their new school. Embracing even some of these integration techniques will not just help reduce your child’s stress, but yours as well.
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