While moving can be challenging for adults it can be especially difficult for school-age children who are comfortable with the routine that's been established. They've gotten used to their teachers, they've developed friends and perhaps even joined clubs or teams.
Moving can upset everything they've gotten used to and cause sadness, anger, stress, resentment and fear, which can last for some time. It can be even more challenging if the move occurs during the middle of the school year, when a pattern of learning has been set.
A common experience
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, there are approximately 2 million children of active military members. Meanwhile, MilitarySpouse.com states that 1.3 million of them are between the ages of 4 and 18. Because military families move an average of every two to three years, approximately 500,000 military children change schools each time.
While there's no set schedule to how long the adjustment period lasts, Parents Magazine quotes experts who say it can take, on average, six months before children get used to their new location and new school. But there are things you can do to help your children transition to a new school.
Tips on the transition
Inform them as soon as possible: They'll need time to adjust to the idea of moving, so letting them know of the plans early in the process will give them time to do just that.
Research schools together: Let your children join you in finding a new school in the area. Finding out about its clubs and activities, the best route to take to get there, etc. Making it a fun adventure can help them relax.
Give them some control: In addition to working together, let your child make some of the decisions about the move and new school on their own. Let them pick their own clubs, perhaps even go shopping for their own outfit for the first day. It can help them achieve some confidence about the transition.
Collect their school records and recommendations: Supplying their academic records and critical information from past teachers can ensure they're placed in the right classes and the transition is smooth.
Find local help: Contact school officials to find out about sponsorship groups and other resources within the facility that can help with the transition. In addition, the Military Child Education Coalition has a list of organizations that offer advice and help.
Be patient: There's no definite period for when your children will adjust to the new school, so give them some time. Listen to their concerns and offer understanding during the transition period.