The Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) have produced a practical guide to help families understand the psychological and emotional dimensions of moving. The information is designed to help parents minimise the impact for their children and make the move as positive an experience as possible.
1. Tell your children that you will be moving and give them an idea of the timescale. It is much better that they hear about a move from their parents rather than from someone else.
2. Your children may need something visual, like a calendar (showing how many sleeps till the move) to help them understand the timescale.
3. Talk to your child(ren) about the new destination and help them to find out more about the new area. The internet will often be the easiest way to find things that will be of interest to them.
4. Find out about schools in the new area. If you have any difficulty doing this, contact CEAS, who will be able to give you advice and guidance. Email DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.uk or phone 01980 618244 or (mil) 94344 8244. Remember it is a parental responsibility to apply for a school place.
5. Once you know which school your children will be going to, make contact with the team there. Try to establish an e-mail pen friend for your child(ren) so that they can start to get to know someone in their class prior to the move. Ask if they perhaps have a member of staff who specifically looks after Service children – some schools now have dedicated support staff.
6. If you have any choice about the timing of the move, opt to move during the summer holidays so that children will join a new school at the start of the academic year. If this is not possible, explore the possibilities of moving during the Easter or Christmas holidays.
7. Help your children to plan their goodbyes. This includes talking about the people they wish to visit before moving; leaving parties; final visits to favourite places and restaurants; time to say goodbye to friends and family.
8. Help children to ‘make up’ with friends they may have fallen out with, in anticipation of the move. This will enable them to say a proper goodbye to significant friends. It is important to remember that the more successfully you leave, the easier it is to join in your new place.
9. Think about how to keep in touch with family members and special friends (addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers). Help children to be realistic about this so that they do not promise to keep in touch with too many people and then feel disappointed in themselves when they can’t achieve this.
10. Help children to gather photographs and souvenirs to remind them of special people and places.
11. Try to keep to your usual family routines as much as possible up to the time of the move as this will help children to feel secure.
12. Keeping a family scrapbook to record things you have done and seen in a particular location.
13. Teach children about any different customs that they need to know for their new location.
14. Plan visits home and visits from extended family to help maintain a sense of closeness and continuity with significant people.
15. If your belongings are going into storage, keep some things with you which will help you feel at home in your new environment.
16. Talk about the move with your children and share your feelings about it.
17. When you arrive at your new destination, get your children into school as soon as possible.
18. Explore your new environment together.
19. Establish new family routines as quickly as possible.
20. Remember that it takes time to adjust to a new place. Don’t take on too much too quickly or you may end up feeling overwhelmed.
If you are concerned about how your children are responding to a move, talk to your school. If you are overseas, you can also contact the DCYP Targeted Services team responsible for the MOD School. You can contact CEAS at DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.uk
If your child is moving schools, this downloadable resource may be of interest to you.