“You don’t know what you don’t know.” That’s one of those “duh” statements. Of course we don’t know what we don’t know…how would we know?? When parents move with their children, it is inevitable that school performance will be impacted in some way – either big or small. Making sure your child’s teacher really DOES know best is critical to smoothing the transition; and open, honest communication is the best way to do that.
Just like every child is different, every teacher, principal, school and school district are different. Make sure to approach the differences with an open mind. Change is hard but it is even harder when we resist. There are going to be things you like better about your old school just as there will be things you like better about your new school (hopefully!!). Accept living in the “different” for awhile.
Schedule an appointment as soon as possible with your child’s teacher(s) or other critical school personnel (like assistant principals, counselors, social workers, etc.). Try to avoid the “catch the teacher when I can” philosophy. It’s hard to have a productive conversation when neither one of you is prepared and one or both of you are distracted.
Go to the meeting prepared – WRITE it to get it RIGHT. Inevitably there will be something you will forget if you don’t write it down. Talk specifically about your concerns and share facts and details. If this isn’t the first move for you and your family, let your school know how your child approached transitions in the past. You know your child best so let your teacher in on your best guess for how your child will handle this transition.
If you are available, offer to help out at the school either in the classroom or some other capacity. This not only gives you some insight into your new school, but strengthens the home-school connection – a critical factor in school success.
Accept your teachers’ assessment and, possibly, accept that you might have different points of view. Kids act differently in different environments and with different people. Regardless of seeing things the same way, express to your teacher that you are striving to have open communication and are willing to discuss whatever he or she thinks will assist your child in a smooth transition.
No parent should move without a written game plan to help your children deal with the difficulties they face when moving.
For more information about the Moving Families Initative, please visit www.movingfamiliesinitiative.com.