It’s not only preschool and elementary families heading to suburbia. Here’s what you need to know if you’re moving with middle schoolers…
Let’s face it—when you move with kids of any age there are plenty of considerations. From getting registered for soccer to making sure they know a kid or two at the bus stop to managing the childcare scene, there are definitely a few things to think about—and we’ve got your back on all of them.
One of the questions we’ve been getting a lot lately? How to help middle schoolers make the leap from the city to suburbia. Tweens and teens are, likely, more connected to their communities than younger kids and, as a result, may need a little extra support leading up to, during and even post-move—but with some added planning, they’ll no doubt make the transition like pros. Here’s where to start…
#1. Involve Them in Your Suburban Search Process
Bringing your middle schooler along on town tours is a great way to get them excited about the move. By participating early on, your child will experience prospective towns and what they have to offer, first-hand. In our experience, the more a middle schooler knows about where you’re moving and the process itself, the more you can mitigate angst early on—and the more they’ll feel like they’re central to the decision-making of moving during middle school.
#2. Sign Them Up for Extracurricular Activities in the New Town
If your middle schooler is a soccer star, an art lover, or has other passions and interests, consider signing them up for their chosen activities in your new town pre-move. Not only will they have a chance to mix, mingle, and make new friends, but you’ll get a real sense of the community by sitting on the sidelines or picking up post-lessons.
Besides being a good way to engage, putting kids into an activity they’re comfortable with and look forward to, instantly eliminates some of the “newness” of it all. They’ll be diving in from a position of strength versus trying to navigate the landscape, the kids, and a new activity.
#3. Create a Schedule to See Their “Old Friends”
Your middle schooler’s biggest objection is, likely, not wanting to leave friends behind. The reality? It’s probably one of your biggest worries, too.
The simplest way to ease your child’s social worries? Create a get-together schedule before the move that’s full of planned activities with their old friends. Make it a priority to return to the city for friends’ birthday parties and other special events, plus be sure to set a few dates for your middle schooler’s friends to visit them in the suburbs. Your child will have a blast showing their friends around their new home, and discovering all the cool local hangout spots in their new town.
#4. Start Deciding on “Your Spots” in Your New Town
Head out early to grab hot doughnuts at the bakery down the block? Or spend Sundays in “your” booth at the cafe on the corner? Those can also be tough traditions to let go of—until you’ve created a few rival must-dos in the suburbs.
Dedicate a weekend (or two) to exploring your future suburb’s weekend go-tos. Focus on finding new places for your child to get excited about, and encourage them to not compare it to their spots in your hometown. After establishing a routine that involves a scoop or a side of fries post-house searches or Saturday PM Chinese food in your new town, your child will start looking forward to their time in suburbia, and better ease into all that comes next.
#5. Consider The New Middle School’s Grade Breaks
If it’s not essential that you move immediately, you may want to start exploring the suburbs with an eye on the natural school “breaks” in communities. For example, while many districts are K-5 for elementary and 6-8 for middle school, there are plenty of districts where sixth grade is part of elementary school. Other districts start middle school in fifth grade, and high school starts earlier as well.
Many families like to move right ahead of these “breaks”—i.e. after sixth grade if middle school is 7-9, or after fifth if it’s 6-8. In these scenarios, all kids are the “new kids.” While those coming from local elementary schools may know one another, they likely won’t know half or more of their class who’s matriculating from other local schools. This can make getting in the mix much easier.
#6. And of Course, Be Supportive
Tweens and teens form friendships and routines that give them a sense of security, and the thought of those being disrupted can be a serious stressor. Above all, reassure your middle schooler by sharing some of your own worries, and by even telling them exactly how you plan to conquer them. Knowing they aren’t alone will give them a sense of confidence and a feeling that you’re all in this together. Then, focus on those new routines and friendships—the quicker they can be established, the better for your child moving during middle school.
There are hundreds of towns to choose from. How do you figure it all out? You simply don’t, without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.