Moving Your Most Precious Cargo

Have you ever been the new kid? If not, you may have never known what it is like to walk into a room of 30 or more unfamiliar places and try to concentrate on learning and fitting in all at the same time.  Most often, adults involved in a relocation understand what needs to be accomplished and have a general idea of how to approach these tasks. However, children often have very little knowledge about moving. Especially during a first move a child may be apprehensive, inquisitive, and anxious or even become withdrawn. If the child is of school age, one of the biggest concerns for them will be about their new school.Little boy suit case

 The single most important action a parent can take when approaching the choice of new school for their child is to talk with the child.  How familiar are you with your child’s interests? What is important to them in a new school? Can you pinpoint your child’s learning style and match it to a school that will support this style? What are there extracurricular interests? Would a school with a strong sports program suit them or would they rather maintain focus on academics or perhaps the arts? Chances are, you may think that you know many of the answers to these questions. However, by talking with your child you may discover they have very distinct thoughts regarding your move and what they want in terms of a new school. 

After you have spoken with your child and feel you have a good understanding for what they need, then it is time to start researching. Believe it or not, checking out the school districts in your area is often a good point to cover before you even start house hunting. Once you have chosen a school, you can then start looking for houses in that particular district to avoid extra tuition or lengthy commutes for your child. According to the U.S. Department of Education website teacher training and quality are key areas to explore when choosing a new school. Do your homework by browsing the internet for a school websites in your area that include statistics for enrollment, drop out rate, percentage of teachers with national certification etc.  After a researching schools independently, make appointments with various school counselors. Visit the campus and if possible, bring your child with you. The more familiar a child is with their future surroundings and the more information they have about the move the less anxiety they will experience. Keep them as involved as possible.

When you meet with the school representative on your campus visit, you will probably have a list of specific areas that you would like to discuss. Among the topics that should discussed class size or teacher to student ratio, student discipline policies, amount of parent involvement, and the extent that the community supports the school Class size should be a vital part of your choice. Studies show that students in smaller classes have a better chance of excelling. Less students per teacher mean more time for the individual student.  Student discipline policies should be reasonable and supportive of your child. A reputable school will invite active parent involvement and receive ample community support.

You have discussed your child’s concerns, researched schools independently and met with different representatives. Now is the time to, again, sit with your child and discuss your options. Though discussion and preparation, your child’s first day of school may just be a little less stressful for both of you.

Great places to look for information:

U.S. Department of Education

National Center for Education Statistics (for alternatives to public schools) (for home schooling options and resources)