How to transit your children into a new school during the middle of the school year
Expatriates are often envied for the shiny lives that they seem to enjoy. The exposure of living in a foreign country, the perceived high salaries, and the sponsorship for housing and international schools for their children appear to be a life worth sought-after. However, many often did not see the ugly side of things – the sudden move for the entire family, and the guilt of the parents when they tell their children that they need to move again. Only a fellow expatriate will understand, and that’s why we are here to talk to you about transiting your children into a new school, especially during the school term.
Moving to a new environment is stressful for the family, and the additional pressure of finding a suitable school can make the actual move quite a challenge for both parents and children. How can you, as a parent, make things easier for your children? Here are some tips.
Tell your Children as early as possible
Involving your children in the decision to move is vital to help them transit better after the move. While the final decision to move should lie with you, the minor details can be a joint decision between you and your children. It is, therefore, crucial, to tell your children that you have taken on a new role at work and that the entire family has to move as soon as you confirm it. This is even more critical if you need to move during a school term, as the move is likely to affect your children more than you would like it to be. If you have older children, telling them as early as possible also make things easier for them when the time for the big move comes along.
Allow your Children to say Good-bye
It is equally critical for your children to find closure before they move on to the new school. Children tend to adjust better if they have had closure in their previous schools. Allow your children to discuss the move with their friends, attend farewell parties, and exchange email addresses to stay in touch with their friends. Giving your children time to grieve also help them to adjust and process the move in a positive manner.
Talk to your Children about their fears and worries
Communication is key before, during and after the move. Talk to your children about their fears and worries, but do not put them down as “nonsense” or “unnecessary worries”. Instead, analyse every fear and worry together with each child to help them understand the underlying reason that spouts the fear or worry. For example, if one of your children is fearful of not finding new friends after the move, you may want to explore the fear and find out if your child has been having difficulties in their friendships. Sometimes, the concern can be due to a small problem such as an argument with their best friend about the move.
Engage your older Children in decision-making about the new school
If your children are in middle school or older, it is an excellent idea to engage them in decision-making about the new school. The most useful method is to involve them when choosing a new school. Ask them for their opinions and find out what they want to look for in a new school. By seeking their involvement, they feel more empowered and therefore, more committed to adjusting when the move happens. You can also allow some autonomy in choosing classes and activities within the school.
Maintain the “First day of school” tradition
Moving in the middle of the school term often adds additional stress to the children and yourself. Therefore, try to maintain the “first day of school” tradition at home to prepare your children for the new school. The ritual helps to settle your children’s nervousness and also give them something to look forward to before going to the new school.
Take a tour before school starts officially
Usually, the new school will require your children to start on a particular day as their first day of school. Try to arrange a tour with the new school before the first day so that your children can go to the school with you, speak with the teachers and also meet their classmates outside of the classroom. By having an informal first meeting, your children can familiarise themselves and get an idea of the expectations of the school and teachers. It also helps to form new friendships quickly.
Stock up on school supplies
Some schools require specific supplies, so be sure to ask the new school if any particular items are needed. Purchase them ahead of time, so that your children will blend right into the school on their first day.
Be patient and available
Finally, the most important thing for you to do as a parent is to be patient and available. Your children are likely going to be quieter during the transition or turning into an attitude monster. Regardless of the change, remember that they are going through a transition and may be experiencing some difficulties. While you should not relax the standards for their behaviours, giving them more space and time will help them to adjust. Be patient with them and stay available whenever they need to talk. Your reaction to their behaviours determines how quickly they will overcome the new environment and adjust back to their normal routine.
By Zerlina Zhuang