Will your child switch schools within the next year? The U.S. Census says that 2 million people with children move each year, and most of those children switch schools. My family moves every two to three years and we are working on perfecting our moving system. This time, we are going to try a few things that encourage reading and writing while also helping letting go of the old and celebrating the new.
- Make a Scrapbook. We are creating a family scrapbook. Each child includes a page of favorite friends, favorite places, and favorite things. As a family, we work together on pages titled “Home,” “Favorite Restaurants,” “Favorite Activities,” and “Things We Won’t Miss.” We will also create a timeline and include pictures and a brief description of birthdays, celebrations, and interesting events.
- Leave a Memento. Before leaving a home, each child leaves behind a part of themselves. My eldest child leaves a stone from our home base in Ohio. My middle child has a stack of patches that she made from a favorite shirt when she was a child. My youngest child bought a bunch of princess hearts that count as her treasure. Each child finds a spot special to them. It might be a favorite park, a corner in their bedroom, or a spot at their school. They gently tuck their treasure into a secret spot and leave it, leaving a part of themselves in their old home.
- Find an Artifact. With each move, we allow each child to find a special artifact to remind them of their home. The artifact needs to be a small found object that easily fits into their “Artifact Bag.” Usually, they select a coin, a beautiful rock, or a pressed flower. They put these artifacts together in the small bag and can take out the objects to talk about why they selected them at any time.
- Stay Connected with the People. In our family, we each pick one person that we want to keep in touch with the most. Each child makes a circle journal packet. They include a small journal, ten manila envelopes with our new address, stamps, stickers, markers, and a list of “letter writing topic ideas.” They write a letter in the journal explaining why they picked this person for their pen pal and saying what they will miss the most about that person. Then, we ask them to write back and send the journal to our new home so it is waiting for us. Then, we can keep in touch and get mail on a regular basis from our old home.
- Celebrate the New Home. Celebrating the new home could be it’s own topic. We do that by making lists before we get there of restaurants, parks, and tourist sites we want to visit. We work our connections to find friends to write to before we arrive to ask for advice and suggestions. Then, when we arrive we spend five minutes every night talking about three wonderful things we found about our new home.
Of course, moving is challenging no matter what one does. Here are some books to help start conversations about moving:
- The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day, Stan and Jan Berenstain
- Big Ernie’s New Home: A Story for Young Children Who Are Moving, Teresa Martin and Whitney Martin
- The Moving Book: A Kids’ Survival Guide, Gabriel Davis and Sue Dennan
- New Kid, New Scene: A Guide to Moving and Switching Schools, Debbie Glasser, Ph.D., Emily Schenke
- Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move, Judith Viorst, Robin Glasser