Moving to a new home or starting at a new school can be stressful life transitions for kids—but what happens when both take place at the same time? How do you help your child cope and get comfortable with so much unfamiliar territory? Check out these 15 tips for moving with kids and starting a new school!
Break the News in a Positive Way
Setting the right tone when you announce your family is moving can help smooth the transition to your new home and child’s new school. Plan a fun outing in a positive environment—such as your child’s favorite pizza place or arcade—then break the news at home in a comfortable setting. Frame the point as a new adventure, and remain positive and understanding. It’s important to honor grief—be prepared for sadness and anger, respond sensitively to their reactions, and allow them to ask questions so you can communicate openly.
Take Care of Your Health
Taking care of your mental and physical health is crucial when moving to a new home. If you’re unable to take care of yourself, you won’t be able to offer critical support. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating well, as a lack of either will negatively impact your stress levels. Don’t forget to acknowledge your child’s well-being, too—ensure they’re staying healthy, discuss their fears and expectations, and offer them comfort and solidarity. Moving homes affects the whole family and should be dealt with together.
Let Your Child Say Farewell
Leaving a familiar environment behind is a tough task for any child. Give your kids proper time to say goodbye to their old home, school, and favorite places before making a move. Talk about what makes them grateful for their experiences, leave them with happy thoughts, and give them a sense of closure to make this major life transition go more smoothly.
Read Relevant Books
Changing homes or attending a new school can be a difficult concept for a young child to wrap their head around. Reading kids’ books about moving and adjusting to a new school can provide helpful suggestions and encourage your child to discuss their feelings more openly with you. If you want, you can even make a homemade moving book with photos and personalized captions, as well as positive experiences you’re looking forward to.
Keep the Moving Process Fun
Packing up and moving with children is tough because it’s a loss of a familiar environment for your child. Setting aside your child’s favorite toys or buying a special new one for the move can comfort them, especially if you’re dealing with a cross-country move and traveling via plane or car. Having something fun to play with in the car or on a plane can also provide some distraction for your child. Additionally, playing a game while packing up belongings helps make moving more fun for the whole family.
Involve Them in the New House
Help foster positive feelings by allowing your kiddos to make choices during the moving process. Keep up communication with your kids about the moving timeline, and let them know what to expect while relocating with family. Whether you’re bringing them with you to do a walk-through of your new home or letting them pick out paint colors for their room—having your kids play a role in their new home can help them feel more in control and even build excitement.
Unpack the Kids First
After moving into a new home, it’s tempting to start unpacking everything. But finishing the kids’ move should be the first priority. Giving your children the maximum amount of time to adjust to their new surroundings can help make the big change less stressful. Set up kids bedrooms and playrooms first. Bring along a bag or box of your child’s favorite belongings to ensure they’re available right away to help provide familiarity and reassurance.
Get Settled with a Family Outing
Unpacking after moving and figuring out “the right spot” for all your stuff can be time-consuming. Give your family a break by grabbing dinner at a fun restaurant, exploring a local park or mall, or catching a movie. Not only will it be a much-needed reset, but it’ll also help your family begin to get familiar and adjust to their new city or nearby surroundings. Kids can sometimes feel like they drift apart from their parents after a significant transition. Set aside some time to bond with your children and have family playtime.
Tour Their New School Together
The beginning of a school year can be scary for children—especially when transitioning schools. Take some pressure off by visiting the new school or taking advantage of an open house event. That way, you can help them get to know their teachers, locate the school library and cafeteria, and scope out the designated after-school pick-up spot. This will help your kids feel more prepared on their first day.
Help Your Kids Stay Connected
Leaving a familiar area doesn’t mean your kids have to leave their old life behind completely. Help your child get contact information from their friends so they can stay in touch with virtual playdates, letters, and more. Staying connected with old friends can give your child a sense of comfort and familiarity, affording them the opportunity to socialize while adjusting to a new environment.
Arrange a Playdate
Ease your children’s anxiety about going to a new school by setting up a playdate with your new neighbors or families from the school. Make a fun list of things you can do in the neighborhood to socialize, like finding the closest library, sports field, or local park to play at. Not only will this help your kids feel more comfortable about living in a new area, but it will also hopefully give them some familiar faces at school.
Ease Back into Routines
Moving will most likely throw off some of your daily routines, but it’s important to get back on them—especially before your kids head back to school. By keeping your child’s play areas, workspace, and schedule similar to what they’re used to, you can more easily settle them back into a routine.
Use Consistent Goodbyes
The life transition of moving or even having to leave what is familiar can create some anxieties for children. Providing consistent goodbyes can help kids feel more comfortable and secure in their relationship with you, as well as their new home and routines. Whether it’s handing them their lunch before they head out the front door, walking them up to the school doors in the morning, or coming up with a fun saying for whenever you drop them off—saying goodbye to children in a predictable way can help ease their separation anxiety in a new place.
Prepare for the First Day
To properly prepare for your child’s first day at their new school, take the time to make a back-to-school checklist to ensure they have everything they need. This can include a schedule of where they need to go and at what time, a list of school supplies, and any new school clothing they may need. If your child is starting school for the first time, go with them on the first day so they can feel supported.
Remember the Transition Continues
Moving to a new home and starting a new school doesn’t end after you get unpacked and drop them off on the first day. There’s going to be an adjustment period. So how can you help? It’s simple: listen. Don’t ask too many questions. Just be a resource for them when they choose to open up and be there to help when they’re having issues. Your support, time, consideration, and patience will be felt by your children, and can help them feel more comfortable adjusting to all the new exciting things that come with a move.
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