Back to School Tips When You're New to the Neighborhood

Moving to a new area is hard, and it can be particularly difficult when you have kids who are switching schools. With a new school year on the horizon, let’s discuss how you can help your kids adjust to a new home, neighborhood, and school.

Meet the neighbors

A great way to make moving easier on your family is to build a new community of friends. Take a walk around the neighborhood, and introduce yourself to parents and kids who are outdoors enjoying the last of summer. Take the same approach at the nearby park. Even a dog park will do. Sometimes our four-legged friends are the best at bringing us together.  

Take it one step further and throw a house warming party. Tell the parents they can put up their feet up and enjoy a refreshing cocktail while the kids tire themselves out playing in a bouncy house or swimming in your pool. That’s an offer few parents will refuse.

Engage at school

Show your child around their new school before the first day. Take a tour, find their classroom or locker, and check out the lunchroom and playground. The familiarity will give your child confidence going into their first day. It’ll also ease any anxiety you might have about them getting lost or embarrassed.

Ask your child’s principal, counselor, or teacher about extracurriculars at the school or in the area. Does a fall sport interest your child? What about an after-school club? Solidifying friendships early in the school year will make all the difference.  

You can also look for opportunities to engage at the school. Is there a parent night on the calendar? Could you volunteer to chaperone a field trip in the fall?

Stay close with old friends

As important as it is to build a new community, it may be equally important to reach out to your old friends as well as your child's. Plan to facetime them and swap first day of school stories. And once you get settled, invite them to come stay for a weekend. It will give you and your family something on the calendar to circle and look forward to. 

Be a source of support and consistency

Moving is a stressful life event for anyone. As a parent, you’re undoubtedly going through the struggles that come with leaving your home and potentially your friends and job, too. Take time to care for yourself during this time. And while you may empathize with your child’s feelings, try to also highlight the positive things about the move and emulate the behavior you’d like to see in them. 

Another way to ease your family into the move is to maintain your old schedule. Keep meals, bedtimes, and other rituals similar. If your family always ordered takeout on Friday nights, find restaurants in your new area and continue the tradition.

As hard as you try, your child’s strong feelings about the move may result in sleep disruption, appetite change, clinginess, and tantrums. Try to be patient, and rest assured—a temporary regression is normal, especially in the first weeks of your move. Take it day by day, and remind yourself that you've got this.