juli101 asks:

How can I help my child grow accustomed to a new school after a move?

My husband received a job transfer in December 2007.  The children and I moved from a city we have known our whole lives to a small town in  Iowa.  Before the move, my 5th grader was a social butterfly.  Always at friends houses and doing things with his friends.  Since we have moved he is having trouble making friends and struggling with his writing and reading.  He was struggling with his writing and reading before the move, but it is worse.  Any suggestions I can do for my son.  He is such a good kid, I hope this move has not set him back.

Thank You-
In Topics: Helping my child with reading, Friendships and peer relationships
> 60 days ago



Feb 14, 2008
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What the Expert Says:

Hi Juli,

First, is your son's new teacher fully aware of your son's reading and writing difficulties? I imagine you have already done some work in this area, but you should make an effort to fully educate your son's new teacher on your son's academic strengths and areas of improvement. My guess is that your son is struggling more in reading and writing because his previous teacher had learned how to work with your son, but your son's new teacher is still getting to know him. Contact his previous teacher and ask her for a list of recommendations for reading and writing strategies that worked well with your son and pass this list along to his new teacher.

Regarding his social transition, many experts believe that it takes approximately six weeks for a new student to feel comfortable in a classroom. Some students need less time and some students need more. Thus, I think that it is somewhat normative that he is adapting and still uncomfortable. That said, I think that you should continue to encourage and support his efforts to meet new people and make friends. Is there a sports team or hobby that he could get involved in? Has he identified any students in his classroom that he would like to know better? If so, he might start by inviting one of his peers over for a short, structured playdate after school. Perhaps, you could take he and his peer for ice cream and miniature golf or an outing to the park for some pick-up soccer. Ask your son. He probably has some great ideas.

Given that your son was successful socially in his previous school, he clearly has some strong social skills. I believe, with time, he will make new friends and become more comfortable in his new environment.

Good luck!  

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Additional Answers (2)

Redwood_Cit... writes:
Hi Juli,

I moved several times with my family when I was about your son's age.  I have to say it was really hard!  By that age people were pretty settled in their little groups of friends and it wasn't easy to break in.  

That said, there were a few things my parents did to make it easier.  First they spent a lot of time talking to me about why we had moved.  To a kid, it seems like your parents are doing something that's good for THEM without worrying about the fact that it's hard for you.  My parents explained that by moving, they were giving me the opportunity to see other parts of the country, to learn about different kinds of people, etc.  My mom spent a lot of time helping us to get to know our new town (going to museums, parks, etc) and we'd also take family vacations in the new area.
Then they'd also explain that because my dad had a better job, we'd have more money available to do fun things, for me to go to the college I wanted to go to, etc.  If you try to help him see the positive of being there, he might get more hopeful about having a great life there.

The second thing my parents did was make sure I was set up to fit in in terms of my clothes.  Kid fashion does vary in different parts of the country.  If your son feels like his clothes are out of place in his new school, it could really be hurting his confidence.  It seems like a silly (and expensive) thing to do to get rid of his perfectly good clothes but a whole new wardrobe (that makes him feel comfortable in his new school) could be a really great investment.

My parents were also great at thinking of ways to help me make friends.  It sounds like your son is a great kid with good social skills but he still may be having a hard time breaking in to the social groups.  My parents encouraged me to have a class party a few months after we moved to a new place.   They made it a really great party at a fun place that the kids in my new town liked to go to.  (They made up some excuse for a theme like "first day of spring party")  Again, this could be a bit expensive, and I'm not suggesting that you can "buy" your son friends, but something like that may help him "break the ice" with his classmates.

Finally, my parents always did a great job of being in really close touch with my teachers in a new school.  Often times the curriculum from my old school would either be ahead or behind my new school so I'd either be bored or lost.  I was embarassed about it and wouldn't have told my mom about it unless she asked me directly.  While I acted mad that she was so involved with my teachers, I was really relieved that she was helping me get adjusted into the new curriculm.

Moving to a new school isn't easy but with your help I think your son can adjust and even have a great time exploring a new place.  It's clear that you're willing to help him which is the most important thing.  Hope some of these ideas help!

Let me know how he's doing (and you too...I'm sure the move wasn't easy for you either!)
> 60 days ago

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socialworker writes:
Try reading “Harry the Happy Caterpillar Grows: Helping Children Adjust to Change” by Cindy Jett with your child. It is great for kids  anticipating a new situation. It is the story of a caterpillar that has a fantastic life full of games, friends, school and leaf eating. He is stunned when he discovers that he is expected to build a chrysalis and become a butterfly. At first, he refuses to build a chrysalis, but eventually joins his friends and becomes a butterfly. It is a fun book that get kids talking. There are tips in the back to help parents start a discussion and teaching coping strategies.
> 60 days ago

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