“Ultimately children are pretty adaptable little beings, however as a parent, it would be really important to keep a close eye on them as they settle, whilst doing all you can to support them in this period of change”. – Teacher, Primary School.
It’s a tough decision that many families have to mull over when they move Interstate or abroad and it’s not an easy one. Is it better to move mid-term, or wait until the start of a new school year?
After speaking with some parents and some teachers, and some parents who happen to be teachers, we can most definitely say, without a shadow of a doubt, that we are 100% confident, that we still aren’t actually very sure.
Here is what we found out
First of all, you need to be aware that Australia has a different school year to the UK; parts of Europe and also the United States, to name but a few.
In Australia, the school year starts at the end of January with the large summer break taking place over December and January. Each term will then have roughly 10 weeks each for 4 terms and everyone breaks off for the year Mid-December.
With a typical Northern Hemisphere school breaking off around August or September this does create some timing issues that need to be considered.
If you are able to choose when you are moving then towards the end of the calendar year may be a good option. You can finish up at the end of your year (August/September). Emigrate sometime between September & January and join a new school at the end of January. This way you finish up one year and then start afresh the next.
Alternatively, you could move after their school year ends, but join a school for the last term before the December school holidays, therefore giving the kids a small taster of their new school and a chance to meet some friends to hang out with over the holidays.
Chances are you are moving because you have had a job offer, in which case the employer may have control over the moving dates. Or you are waiting on a Visa to come through and you are getting ready to fly whenever that lands. Either way, you may just have to go with the flow and move when life happens as opposed to your choosing. This can often be a good thing though as it takes some of the decision out of your hands and with it some of the pressure.
If your Visa lands mid-term say for example in February and you move in March, this is probably in the middle of school term no matter where you are coming from. In this instance, we have found that you just have to prepare the kids for the pending change. Chat to them about the move and maybe have a farewell party planned for when the moving date is formalised so they get to say their goodbyes. If you can speak to their school about the move as much in advance as possible then they can look into getting a portfolio ready that you can take with you to show their new school where they are up to and what they have been working on.
We asked some local teachers & parents for their opinions and this is what they said on when is the best time:
“It really is down to the child. As a parent, it is very important to make sure you are happy with where you are sending your child from an educational perspective, however for the child they will be much more concerned with making friends and feeling a sense of belonging. Arrange play dates, meet-up with other parents and attend school events – this will all make for a smoother transition”.
“As a teacher, I feel it is better for a child to move schools either at the end of the school year over the Christmas holidays or during the school year between Terms 2 and 3. Most schools’ teaching programs are based on a semester reporting method, and so for your child’s continuity of care and learning a current report card is desirable to hand over to the new school’s administrators and classroom teacher”.
“Some children thrive in new settings, with new friends and experiences, but some don’t. The amount of consideration you have to give to move your child will depend on this considerably. If they are happy they will perform better educationally. Furthermore Is there something that the school offers that the child’s current school doesn’t? This may create excitement and motivation from the child to embrace the move in a positive way”.
Speaking to some parents who have emigrated they said that the biggest considerations you need to look at when moving were:
- Will they have a chance to get to know people before the schools break off for holidays?
- If there is no school lined up, one parent may have to stay at home and not work which most people said wasn’t too bad as long as you had budgeted accordingly
- Picking a school. Some schools will allow for orientation periods to let the kids settle in slowly, others will require interviews prior to being accepted. If you attend a state school then the biggest criteria will just be that you live in their catchment and can prove your address. Once you have a rental picked out then this can often dictate your school choices.
- Does the school have a buddy or mentor system in place to help your child settle
- Is the school used to children arriving mid-term? How have they approached this in the past?
- If your child isn’t great in new settings then it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move, but that perhaps timing would be more important- the beginning of a new school year would be ideal, even better before they start school – but that obviously isn’t always possible.
Moving is always going to be hard on the kids when they leave, nobody wants to leave their friends behind. The good news is that we haven’t met a kid yet who hasn’t settled in and loves it here. Even the older ones who were adamant that they didn’t want to come have all settled in and are loving it! Who wouldn’t!
For further advice or for help picking a school please feel free to get in touch with us at [email protected]. Use our Relocation Assistance and make sure those and other transitions into your new life are made easy!