How to prepare: from a small country school to new large city school?
Adopted her 4 yrs ago from a tragic home life. Now we're divorcing & moving from a tiny town back to my hometown of Nashville. I'm trying to make it sound like an adventure full of opportunities for us to start over together. She's a bit worried about being around so many students, getting lost, making friends, etc. Present school is less than 150 students, 15 per class, very one on one time. Very few minorities here. I want her to experience many cultures and be excited at her new school. Any suggestions to make our move to the city easier? She's an honor student in 2nd grade now, very outgoing, friendly,but a bit of a talker & too loud in class. Otherwise no problems at school.
Hi ChaCha - Sounds like you and your daughter are going through a very exciting but stressful time. I'm sorry to hear about your divorce.
Is your ex-husband also making the move? If not, it sounds like your daughter will be spending a lot less time with him than she does now. That, in addition to a new school is a lot of change and stress for anyone, but especially a child. I think you're doing the right thing in helping her see the opportunity for greatness in the situation, but it's also important to be accepting if she doesn't think it's so "great". She may regress a little, act out at school a little more, etc. Make sure she has lots of support as she adjusts to all these changes. Hopefully she'll talk to you about how she's feeling, but it might also be helpful for you to find some other trustworthy adults for her to connect with in your new town (the school counselor, a minister at a new church, etc. If necessary, you may even want to set her up with a child psychologist who will have a really good understanding of how these changes might impact your daughter). Her new teacher should know everything that's going on with her so that she can be supportive of any issues that may arise.
If she does have a hard time, be ready for her reaction to be delayed a little. We moved recently and my kids seemed totally fine but about 3 months after the move my youngest son started having trouble sleeping, having accidents, and behaving badly. I spoke to his pediatrician and learned that it's very typical for kids to act out in response to stressful change AFTER the grown ups have settled in to the new life. Something deep inside of them knows their parents won't be able to support the kids during the move so they wait until the parents have more energy to devote to helping them cope with the new situation.
In terms of tactical things you can do to help your daughter adjust to the new school...try to make sure she has clothes that make her feel comfortable in the new town. The fashion may be very different in the new school and she's old enough now to notice if she looks really different than the other kids in her class. Try to enroll her in an activity or two outside of school so that she gets a chance to make some friends in a less overwhelming environment and so that she has an outlet for some of her energy and emotions.
Although you may be looking for a "clean break", try to support her in maintaining a relationship with her dad. Set up regular call times, let her email him, and make sure she knows when she'll see him next if that's going to happen. She may also want to keep in touch with some of her old friends and that's something you should also be supportive of.
I wish you and your daughter all the best in your new life together!