Our family is on a new pathway, finally! We will be changing schools and relocating the kids. We are all hugely excited about our new journey for the family but with any big changes, it is important everyone feels secure through the entire process. For children who have never relocated before, it can bring some uncertainty and feelings that they haven’t felt before. Their sense of security of where they have lived and the usual places and routines they are part of will be disrupted and may change so it is important that the kids are prepared for this as much as possible but that they also understand there may be some things that will change that not even you are aware of yet. It is important for them to feel that same sense of security through the whole process as much as possible and to know that regardless of where you are, their family and all their belongings in it will remain the same. Well apart from the load of never used toys, left over party bags and the collection of bags you get at dinner. Mummy cleaned those out, but everything else is still there. I recently wrote about helping kids adapt to change not long ago as even the start of a huge change in any aspect of their lives can be a really big deal.
One of our children will also be changing schools. It can be a big deal starting at a new school and having to adjust to a new environment, new friends, and new teachers. Our other child will be starting school. So there are lots of big changes for our children over the coming months.
We have come up with some things to help make the transition with changing schools and relocating for the kids:
- Organising photos and emails. We are organising a scrap book for our kids of all the memories from the friends they have made through school and pre school. We are also gathering email addresses and adding Facebook friends so that we can all still keep in contact with the kids they have been with the last few years. Although we will be making new friends, it is also really important for kids to still have friends outside the school circle. Having photos and organising catch ups will make them feel like they are still involved and part of that group.
- Farewell party. Well, maybe it is just me that wants the party! This really sends things off on a positive note and kids always have a great time at parties and it gives them a chance to really spend time with their friends. I think mummy might be organsing a few farewell parties also.
- Some special things. It might be nice to have a few new things to settle in with. One thing we are setting up is a fairy garden in one of the gard
en beds. We haven’t had a fairy garden before but we thought it might be a nice idea for my daughter and she thinks it will be lovely having the fairies there with her. We might also buy a nice new hall night light or one for their bedrooms. I imagine they may wake more during the night and a friendly night light might help with an uncertainty in the dark. Perhaps a new teddy who they can cuddle to sleep. Something small might just help them feel special and a little better about the changes.
- New School visits. Involving the kids in meeting the principal and a chance to see their new classrooms and peers is really important. Both our children will be doing 2 mornings with their class mates within their new school before they start next year. This allows them to visualise the school and start to feel like they are moving into the community. Kids can adapt to new peers and changes better than we think, so helping prepare them early can make that transition much easier and a positive experience.
- Facebook Groups. It is amazing now how many groups are on Facebook and groups within communities. I have found that our new local community has a wider group as well as 2 specific groups for our local neighbours and soon to be friends. After posting in this group I already have 4 or 5 wonderful people who have invited me to coffee, a wine and some play dates when we move in. This is a wonderful resource to take advantage of and allow the kids to meet some fellow class mates and also some local kids in the area. It is also lovely for the adults to help with the transition too. Get onto Facebook and check out the local businesses and places to go in your local area.
- Take a drive or a visit. Obviously, if you are moving overseas or more than several hours away this isn’t as practical or possible. If you are able to take a drive and just spend time driving around to the local shops, parks and just checking out the local streets can help everyone get excited about all the new adventures you are going to have!
- Checking In. After the move check in with the principal and the teachers to see how your child is settling in. There may be some settling issues or there may be some barriers such as language that has made the transition slightly harder. The schools should be able to give you advice and assistance in helping smooth out any issues.
- Become part of the community. I have always been a big believer in being involved as much as I can be with the school and the community. I work as do many, but where I can be involved I do. It is important for the kids to see you want to be involved and this, in turn, helps them to be involved too. If you can attend a morning or bake scones for the school fair, be part of the end of year concert or just simply go along to a school function. Actively being part of the community makes them positive about their new community and surroundings.
- Communicate. Most children transition to change very well. But it is really important to keep the lines of communication open. Perhaps at dinner time or a short time after school is a chance to chat about the day, what they liked but also what they disliked. Let them feel they can talk to you about the negatives as well as the positives. Open up the lines of communication and perhaps talk to them about how you are feeling with the move and relocation. It is important for kids to understand that adults can be scared or nervous as well.
- Give it Time. Don’t expect them to settle in a few weeks. It may take several months for them to find their feet in their new environment. They may wake more during the night, a new behaviour might resurface or start, it may take them a while to find new friends. Be patient and let them know that this is all perfectly normal and there is no rush for them to get used to all the new things. Talk to them about what you are still adjusting to as well.
Transitions and relocating can be daunting but incredibly exciting. We are so looking forward to our new journey. Have you got any tips and advice for changing schools and relocating your family?