Thoughts

School Daze Part Two – Double Jeopardy: New Neighborhood, New School

School Daze: A Four-Part series addressing the challenges kids face going back to school after their parents separate or divorce.

As if heading back to school after your separation or divorce isn’t hard enough on your child, changing residences and/or changing schools can compound the his sense of loss and disorientation.

Does Your Child Feel Inside Out about the new school?

No matter how pleasant your new home may be, moving is another significant change in her life and may even require transferring to a different school. Children are far less adaptable to a “new normal” than are adults.

Moving out of state or out of town, leaving school and friends behind is frequently traumatic even for kids whose parents are happily married. The latest Pixar film, Inside Out, brilliantly animates the mixed emotions of 11 year-old Riley as she experiences that transition. Although Riley’s family is intact, she still misses her house, her friends, even the inclement weather. And she’s afraid of making missteps at her new school, of being the ‘new kid,’ the outsider.

Perhaps you’re staying in place but your child is moving on to middle or high school and transitioning to becoming a ‘tween’ or a teen, a period of adjustment for every kid. Worries about doing well academically, socially and athletically, all serve to compound any distress caused by a divorce.

Hints to Ease Your Child into the New School

1. You can help your child by recognizing the number and kind of stressors unique to his or her personality and situation.

2. Walk your young child around the neighborhood, make a map together of the streets and include landmarks like the Golden Retriever’s house, the park, the mailbox painted red.

3. If he makes friends easily but struggles academically, arrange for a peer tutor.

4. Be sensitive to the physical and hormonal changes that may affect your teen’s volatility.

5. Invite your child to talk about his feelings, role-play situations that may cause her anxiety.

6. Enlist your former spouse’s help in keeping routines as consistent as is possible. Share apps such as Our Family Wizard, Cozi or TeamSnap to track class schedules, homework assignments and after school activities.

Oh, and watch Inside Out with your kids of any age. Besides being a most enjoyable film, it’s a great springboard for discussion.

©2015 Alpha Resource Center

Next: What to Tell the Teacher

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