Moving can be a stressful ordeal for every family member – and your child is no exception. As a result, it comes as no surprise that you want to get things back to normal as soon as possible. However, the move doesn’t stop when the boxes are unpacked. After getting settled in your new area, your child will have to face an entirely new school with new faces.
Learning a new area and making new friends can be daunting for anyone. Thus, you may be considering keeping your child out of school while you settle so that they can adjust to one big change before jumping into another.
But how long exactly can your child be out of school when moving?
Your child can be out of school for 18 days, which is roughly 10% of this school year. Any longer than this is known as chronic absenteeism, which can impact your child’s ability to advance to the next grade. However, experts believe it’s best that you enroll your child into their new school as soon as possible.
This allows your child to establish a routine in their new environment which makes the transition of the move easier. Your child and their needs are unique, however, so make sure to consult with your child to see how they’re feeling, especially if they’re older.
With 18 days and a big move ahead of you, you may be wondering the best way to guide your child through this new period in their life. To help, here are some ways to make a move – big or small – easier for your child.
How to Make a Big Move Easier for Your Child
“Moving house can be a hugely stressful experience for the parents and the family as a whole as it can be associated with change in social environment,” said Foteini Tseliou, the lead author of a study of 50,000 children. “Parents need to be aware that such a change can be even more stressful for children as they may be more sensitive and less resilient.”
As a parent, your number one priority is making sure that no matter where you go, your child is comfortable in their environment and feels secure. During a move, though, this can be difficult to accomplish.
To make moving easier on your child, try these things:
During this time, your child needs a firm foundation to fall back on. When they’re going through a big change like this, it’s important that you’re not only there for your child but that you’re as honest as possible.
New things are scary. New homes and new schools especially so. By being honest with your child during this time and answering any tough questions they have can help them to understand and express their feelings.
Not only that, it’s better if you’re honest about the move as soon as possible. The last thing you want is for your child to overhear you talking about the move and not have any answers. After all, if it’s one thing children are known for, it’s their imaginations, and you don’t want them to harp over every bad situation that could occur.
However, you should still take caution when you tell your child that you’re moving. Planning your talk for the perfect time is an important step, one that can make a world of difference for your child.
Plan Your Talks Properly
It can be hard to know the right time to tell your child about the move. You want to give them enough time to prepare without leaving a large gap of time for them to stress and worry. As a result, planning the proper time to sit down and talk can be one of the most important parts of now only moving but being honest.
For younger children, you’ll want to plan your talk closer to the date of the move. Since children view time differently than adults, what may be only a few weeks for us can seem like lifetimes for them. Thus, to help reduce the time for them to worry, you’ll want to plan your talk together within two or three weeks of the move.
Moving can be tough for any child, no matter their age. They’re leaving their friends and favorite teachers to move to a new area, and they’re leaving a house they possibly grew up in.
Plus, change can be scary for anyone. Help your child to understand and express these big feelings by being as empathetic as possible.
For younger children, such a big move can cause worries about other things: such as the loss of security. It’s important to be empathetic to these feelings as well in order to help reassure your child that, no matter where you go, you’ll be together. Emphasizing security can help ease your child through this transition by giving them a foundation that they know isn’t going anywhere.
Chances are, your child is going to have questions:
- Why are you moving?
- When are you moving?
- Where are you moving?
There are just a fraction of the questions your child may have, and some of them can have tougher answers than others. The best thing you can do is be open with your child and encourage conversation. If your child is left with a list of questions and no answers, it can be easy to stress about the move and what it entails.
Open dialogue can help settle many of your child’s feelings about moving to a new town. While it’s normal for them to still feel nervous – after all, who isn’t nervous when confronted with new things – this can help fill in many of the gaps where they didn’t know what to expect.
Introduce Your Child to the Area
While this isn’t always possible, especially with long-distance moves, try to introduce your child to the area as much as you can. If the new area is within driving distance, plan a day to travel there with your child and introduce them to their new neighbor. You can show them things throughout the town that they will enjoy as well, such as their new school and parks.
If the new area isn’t within driving distance, don’t worry – you can still help your child get a feel for the area. Thankfully, with the help of the Internet and a couple of searches, you can find virtual maps and 3D imaging that help you and your child feel like you’re right there, even if you’re hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
No matter how you’re able to do it, helping your child become familiar with the area before you move there can help ease many of those big move blues they might have by fostering excitement for all the new things to come. Plus, knowing what to expect can make moving a lot less scary.
Keep Them Involved
One of the best ways to help your child become more comfortable for the moving process – if not even excited for it – is to keep them involved, especially if they’re older. Their lives are going to change as much as yours, and it can be difficult to feel out of control. As a result, handing your child the reins whenever possible can help ease their worries about the move.
Keeping your child involved doesn’t have to be difficult either. One of the best ways to keep your child involved when you’re planning a big move is to allow them to make smaller decisions. While your child may not be able to decide things such as where you move to or what school they go to, you can encourage them to choose things such as the paint color for their new room or their new decorations.
Not only does this help keep your child involved in the moving process, but it also gives allows for them to control how their room looks. This allows them to create an environment that is most comfortable for them.
This is also a chance for you to spend some quality time with your child! If they’re feeling bummed out about the move, there’s no doubt they could use a little extra affection. Shopping, painting, and decorating are great ways to productively spend time with your child.
Moving can be scary for anyone, especially a child, but it doesn’t have to be. Your child is allowed to miss 18 days of school, or 10% of the school year, which gives you plenty of time not only to move but to settle into your new home. During this transitional period, you should also take the time to prepare your child for the move.
Depending on your child’s age, preparation can look different. However, one thing stays the same whether you’re child is five years old or fifteen: during this time, they need you to help them feel safe, comfortable, and secure at their new home.