Mid-Year Move? How to Help the Kids Handle a New School

Moving can be stressful, particularly for kids. Especially if the reason you have to move is because of something you didn't expect, like a divorce or a death. When you add in changing schools in the middle of the year, it can be pretty terrifying experience for your kids.

Think about it. The curriculum in their new school might be different, so they might have to play catch up. They might have to give up playing a sport since tryouts already happened. And trying to figure out who to sit with at lunch is enough to make anyone lose their appetite. Combine that stress with missing their old friends, and you may be on a tough road. 

So how to do you make the whole thing easier on your child?

Show them the town.

When you go house hunting, bring your children with you. Take them to nearby parks and other kid-friendly areas. Even if they don’t meet any kids who go to their school, it’ll still help them feel more confident and excited about moving to the new city. Find out what sports are available, where other kids take music and drama lessons, and where the best libraries and book stores are.

Meet the neighbors. 

If your neighborhood has a homeowners association, ask if you can meet with someone on the board. You’ll want to do it anyway to ask about the HOA’s reserve fund, bylaws, and dues. But while you’re there, ask them if there are any families with kids around your child’s age. If there are, try to set up a pre-move playdate. That way your child will feel more confident on their first day of school because they already know someone.

Advocate for your kid.

Go ahead. Call the school and be a little pushy if you have to. If soccer is everything to your daughter, see if she can get a spot on the team, even if she missed tryouts, even if she has to be third string. You can't exactly set up a playdate for an older kid, so try to get them involved with their usual activities as soon as possible. As for teenagers who refuse to get involved? Teenagers are going to be mad at you anyway, so just make them. They'll thank you later. Like when they're 32.

Can you avoid it altogether?

So let’s say you or your spouse got relocated for work. That spouse absolutely has to move mid-year, but that doesn’t mean you both do. Sit down together and take a look at your finances and investment plans. Does it make sense for you to keep your current house and rent it out? That would allow you and your children to stay in the house before you find a tenant, while your spouse gets the family set up in the new town.

But what if having an investment property isn’t for you?

Hey, not everyone wants to be a landlord. And managing a property from far away can definitely be a challenge, even with a property management company. In that case, you could consider a bridge loan. That option would give your family the money to pay the mortgage on both houses.

However you do it, don't expect things to be smooth sailing. Kids are a lot like adults: Some have an easier time with change, some are more at ease socially with new people, and some are more introverted. Give it time, and you'll all be settled in and loving your new city!