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Moving with children

 

"Home is where the family is - moving house with children"

Highfields State School is in a growing area and has many new students starting at the school during each year. We work hard to ensure new students quickly feel part of our school. Moving can be a difficult time for children. Below are some ideas on how you can help make the move less difficult for your children.

Moving house is about change. For parents it is usually about change of employment, change of environment, change of social group – loss of some people and things that were important, and at the same time finding new opportunities and pleasures. For young children, the change can have a greater impact than for adults or older children because they don't have the experience of previous changes to remember and build on.

Change and children

Moving house, like other changes, can lead to feelings of excitement about what is to come as well as to some fears and anxiety. Usually it is a mixture of all of these.

Preparing children for the move

Moving can make a stronger bond with the family unit, as the family members need to depend on each other. If it is managed well, children can learn new skills and strengths from the experience of moving.

The things that will be important to  your children when you move are:

  • Time with you?
  • Time to do their own moving for example packing up toys, saying goodbye to friends?
  • Knowing that the people they depend on are still there for them.

Plan to move ahead as much as you can so you can plan in time to spend with your children at every stage. If you know you are going to have a very rushed few days, it can help children if there is a close adult friend or relative to be with them at this time. It is good for children to see at least some of the packing up so they understand what is happening.

Some suggestions for involving children in planning

  • Put up a large calendar so children can mark each day until the move.
  • Talk about the move as an adventure that will have exciting new discoveries in the house, the garden, the neighbourhood and the town. It will help you children look forward to it. For example, "I wonder what plants we will find in our new garden?"
  • A map of the new neighbourhood, with schools and play places etc. And children’s activities marked will help. This could include parks, playgrounds, library, swimming pool, sports centre, church, clubs and places that are special attractions of your new home.
  • If you can, visit your new home in advance with the children.
  • Take time to explore the neighbourhood and where the play places are.
  • Take them to see their new school.
  • If your children are learning an activity or craft or are in groups they enjoy, make contact with these in the new area.
  • Teach your children their new address and phone number.

Saying goodbye

Older children will want to say goodbye to their friends at a special time, such as a see you again party. Special events are helpful to all people, including children, at major transition times. At the party, older children could give their friends a card with their new address (or a postcard already stamped and addressed to start them off) and an email address if you have one? And everyone could write or draw on a t-shirt for your children to keep. Remember to take lots of photos.

On the move – packing

  • Give older children responsibility for a special task of their own, e.g. Pack their own toys, check the rooms to make sure nothing is left, take care of a pet (make sure to show you appreciate their help).
  • They can help with deciding what not to keep and help clean out unwanted belongings. It is important not to clean out children’s things when they are not there.
  • Mark the children’s names clearly on the boxes, which contain their things so you can find them easily.
  • Make a pack of things for each child to take on the trip. Keep out some toys for children to have on the trip and as soon as they arrive.

Moving to a new school

Changing schools can be a good experience for young children as long as they are helped to settle in and are happy in the new school.

Helping your child settle into a new school

  • If possible visit the school with the children. Its great if they can meet the teacher, know where their room is and here to put their school bag on the first day
  • Bring your child to school for the first few days and deliver them to the class
  • Make an appointment to see your child’s teacher within the first week where you might:
  1. Share previous report cards
  2. Share specialist reports and assessments on your child
  3. Discuss your child’s interests outside school
  • Collect your child from class for the first day at least and then ensure your child knows exactly where you will collect them after school, or how to get home
  • Be positive when asking your child about their day at school. Don’t ask, "how was your day?" ask questions such as
  1. What did you learn in maths today?
  2. What was the best part of the day?
  3. Who did you play with at school?
  4. What games did you play at school?
  5. What was the funniest thing that happened at school?
  • Ensure your child has a school uniform so they don't feel they stand out at school
  • Ensure your child has all the books and equipment they require
  • In the first few weeks encourage your child to have a new friend over to play
  • Get your child involved in activities that they were involved in at their previous town. (sport, art, drama, etc.)
  • Let your child know where you will be while they are at school.

What does Highfields State School do to help you and your child settle?

  • All new students meet our chaplain within the first week of being at school.
  • Our defence school transition aide meets with, and supports, all children from defence force families.
  • The school contacts your child's last school to gather all relevant educational material on your child.
  • Children are buddied up to class members to help them through the first few days and to show them the school.
  • All new parents are contacted by parent liaison officer from each class.
  • Our guidance officer is available for counselling for those children having difficulty settling in.

References

Home is where the family is by Pam Linke (published by Defence Community Organisation).​