3 things to consider when moving school-aged children

Because of the long list of responsibilities, all the stresses, and fatigue that we, as parents,
go through when planning for and going through a move, it can be easy to not realize
how our children might be feeling. Here is a list of things to consider making this
transition as stress-free as possible for your school-aged children.

Social / Emotional Considerations

Changes can be scary to children, and it is perfectly normal for school-aged children to
amplify in their minds anything that is even slightly fear-producing.

So ultimately children are often impacted even more than their parents by a move —
even though they may not express or openly show their worries or level of stress on the

Some of the emotions and worries your children could experience during a move
include the following:

  • A sense of insecurity and fear about being accepted or like at a new school, or making
    new friends.
  • Academic worries related to switching teachers and schools, and meeting new
  • A sense of loss over leaving teachers, current friends and even their current
    neighborhood and home.
  • Additional unease should the move be associated with life-changing events such as
    change-of-job for a parent, divorce, financial changes in the family, etc.

More often than adults, children will hide their fears, concerns, anxiety or even
depression, sometimes because they themselves are not aware of their emotions or do
not want to burden their parents.

So what can you do as a parent to help ensure that your children go through the
move with as little stress as possible?

  • Be conscious of how much the move could be affecting your children and encourage
    them to talk about their concerns and feelings. This should be done in a calm,
    nurturing, and loving environment. Maybe plan a “special” dinner with their
    favorite foods and have a family discussion, share with them one of your concerns or
    worries. But then tell also share how you worked it out. This will allow you the
    opportunity to draw out their feelings and then help them through their concerns.
    They will be tremendously relieved.
  • Try to make the move fun and give them a sense of control by having them do some
    planning with you. For example, you can go online together to check out the
    surrounding areas, such as the closest library to your new home, or the closest
    bicycle shop or specialty stores they like, or the nearby park with classes or sports
    they may want to sign up for. Then make a point of putting on your moving calendar
    a time that you can go over with your children (if you are moving to someone in close enough proximity) to look over the new places. If you let your children feel that they
    are a part of the moving process, they will also feel more a sense of excitement of the
    experience. Take them to the new house and show them pictures of your new house
    and invite them to help in the decorating process. Ask them what color paint they
    would most like for their new bedroom. Offer to buy them a new comforter, and
    together make some exciting plans for what the new house, and their new bedroom,
    will look like.
  • Be sure to create moments of family bonding during the time of the move. As tired as
    the grown-ups might be, try to get in a family game night just before and after the
    move, go out to the movies, turn the moving boxes into a fort, or turn the packing
    process into some sort of game. It’s good for them to associate the moving process
    with something happy and celebratory.

Practical Considerations

Be sure that you have done all the prep work necessary to ensure that your children
make as seamless a transition into their new schools as possible. If appropriate, find out
the summer reading or summer homework for the new school. Speak to your children’s
current teachers to determine if there is any information that would be important to
impart to your children’s new teachers about their strengths, needs or preferences.
Speak with the new school and, if possible, the new teachers to discover if your children
will need to do any catch-up work so that they are on par with the other children. If
necessary, provide them with whatever tutoring or help they need, so that they can be
optimally successful and happy at the new school.

Do everything you can to ensure that your children will be able to make friends quickly.
Look into enrolling them in local after school classes or leagues. If you attend a house of
worship, look into classes and groups your children might enjoy. Try to meet the parents
of your children’s new classmates and set up after school play dates.
It is significant to plan ahead for the big day of the move. Here are more tips to plan for
your move.

Here are some other things to consider:

  • It is best to have your children stay with a grandparent, family member or trusted
    good friend on the actual day if someone is local. This will keep them safe and happily
  • If this is not possible, hire a sitter to spend the day with you, to tend to their needs and
    to look after their safety.
  • Organize ahead of time plenty food and drink. The food should be as non-perishable
    as possible and easy to eat. Include in your ice chest some of your children’s favorite
    foods and treats to keep them positive.
  • Prepare ahead of time toys, games and books to keep your children entertained
    during the long moving process.
  • Your children are going to want to take a nap or relax during the process. It’s a good
    idea to leave a blanket, pillow, or other comfort items (possibly their favorite stuffed
    animals) that they have access to during the day.
  • It is vital to have with you a box of items that you might need in a hurry. Be sure that
    this box remains in a safe area during the move (the bathtub is a great place to keep
    important items that stay with you and don’t go on the moving truck). These items
    should include medicine, Band-Aids, your children’s favorite books, toiletries, and
    other personal items.
  • Given that the front door of your old and new homes will be open during the move,
    make certain that your children are kept safe and remain inside the home.
  • Children will often want to play with the moving dollies and cartons that are in the
    home during the move. Moving boxes can be a great source of fun for children, but
    they can be hazardous with little children if your little one gets inside. And attempts
    to speed race on a dolly can also prove treacherous. Be sure to monitor your
    children’s usage of moving equipment during a move.
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