As my friends have children who are school age, more and more of them are becoming concerned about waiting until the end of the school year before they move. So many of them want to be sure that they finish the school year at the current school and start the school year at a new school.
Me? I have a different perspective.
When I was growing up, I moved around a lot as my dad was transferred. Sometimes we moved in the middle of the year, and sometimes we moved during the summer. And honestly? It was always easier to move during the school year than it was during the summer.
Why? Well, there were a lot of reasons….
First, when you come into school during the year, everyone knows you’re the new kid. In elementary school, you’re likely to be assigned a buddy to help you find your way and make friends. I usually got cards from the entire class welcoming me, which was an amazing feeling for the new kid.
It made it easier when everyone knew I was the new kid. When I didn’t know how the lunchroom routine worked, they knew why and the teachers were patient. When the curriculum was different from what I’d studied before, they got why and were easily able to assess what I needed to work on to get where I needed to be.
At the beginning of the school year, the kids are so excited to see their friends, many of whom they haven’t seen all summer. A new kid easily gets lost in the shuffle of everyone else. It wasn’t ever as easy to make friends at the start of the school year. The teachers were less likely to know that I was new to the school, as well, and they weren’t as patient when I made mistakes – whether it was not knowing how to get to gym class or not understanding the curriculum because it was so different from what I’d learned previously.
And the biggest part for me? When I moved in the middle of the year, we moved, and I started school right away. In the summer? We moved and then I waited. The anxiety of the first day of school built up while I waited and waited to start at my new school. It was a lot harder in that sense, too.
I get the adults wanting to make a clean break. We know about finishing a task before starting something new. Kids? That’s not always how their minds work, and it isn’t quite the same for them.
Why do I write this now? We moved Mister Man in the middle of the year. In fact, we moved him from the private school he had attended since kindergarten to a public school with three weeks left in the school year last May. It was a shock to many of my friends at the school, but I explained the whys to them, and they got it.
Last year was a rough year for Mister Man for a lot of reasons, but the loving and nurturing teachers he had in kindergarten and the teachers who supported and then challenged him in first grade were not what we experienced in second grade. The second grade teacher was one who wanted all students to fit into the box, and we weren’t the only parents whose child was not in that box, not the only parents who had issues with the teacher – although I was lucky in that the teacher was still speaking to me, unlike her reaction to other parents in the classroom. By spring, it was obviously a toxic environment. When we had the opportunity to move – because we didn’t move him to our home school – we took it.
And it was amazing. His teacher was incredibly supportive and let us know how wonderfully he was doing in the classroom. Instead of saying that there were 18 kids in the class, so no she couldn’t put his math sheet upside down while giving the verbal instructions (not mentioning the fact that there is also a full time assistant in the class), the new teacher figured out on her own what she needed to do to keep Mister Man engaged in what he was supposed to do. I never once heard “He just wants to do what he wants to do” from the new teacher, because that was not my child. There are so many stories I could tell about last year that are just flat out wrong that led us to pushing for a move.
Had I not had the experience of moving during the school year and knowing how smoothly it can go, I might have had him finish out the year at the old school before moving. I was lucky. We made the change, and Mister Man’s experience of moving during the school year was exactly as mine were years ago.
So what about you? Did you ever move schools during the school year or over summer? What was your experience? Would you do it differently?