One of the hardest things about being a parent is having to accept that your choices may put them in a tough spot. Even when those choices are positive, as with career advancement taking more of your time, or forcing the family to move.
Children may not say it outright, but major changes can thwart their sense of stability. A move to a completely new area — new school included — is a major change for any school aged child.
There are things we adults can do to make transitions smoother, to help keep the experience filed into the positive sides of their childhood memories.
Complete The Current School Year
If it all possible, make your move during the summer. This will allow your child to finish up a full year, and take some time to absorb the change. Moving in the middle of the year will automatically file them in the “new kid” category, and can cause them to be an outlier at school. If they begin the year as a “new kid,” they will most likely be in part of a group of newer students who an work their way into social circles without feeling ignored.
Don’t Miss Open House. Though this one is obvious, open house is a great chance for the young student to wander the halls with the supportive adult at their side. The glances of unfamiliar faces, and the (hopefully) warm smiles of the staff should inject a small amount of confidence into their impressionable little veins. It is also a great way for the parent to “feel out” the other parents, the school culture, and the general vibe of the campus (clothing, etc).
Keep An Open Dialogue
Children can sometimes be very secretive without knowing it. Sometimes they aren’t aware of what they are supposed to share. Often a child being mistreated internalizes the shame to the point that telling an adult would only make it worse. Speak to your student about how the first few days, weeks, and even months go. Even if you get the standard “nothing” response, they will eventually cave and start telling you about their experiences. If might save them from real trouble one day.
Sure, children might act like you are super-embarrassing (head shaking at you and all), but they want you there. It shows children that you value their education, and it shows the teachers that your son or daughter has a major back-up system at home. Volunteer in the main office, or during lunch. Chaperone field trips, become a member of the booster club — whatever it takes.