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I am the single dad of a wonderful son. We have recently moved to a new house only a few miles away from where we previously lived, but it is in another school zone. So I have been debating moving him to the new school.

For me, it is not a big a deal. I now live close to the new school, but work close to the old school. So taking him there is only a couple minutes out of my way.

My son is almost 11, and in 5th grade. He is very friendly, outgoing and intelligent. So I know he would make new friends fast.

Here are my thoughts:

1) Next year he would be going to a new school anyway - middle school, again in the other school zone. I have already discussed with him that next year, he is going to a different, bigger school, and NONE of his current friends will be there.
2) If we move schools over Christmas, then he will be able to meet kids that are in our new neighborhood, and will be going to middle school with him.
3) He has many good friends at school, and wants to finish the school year with them. I also like his friends.
4) Both schools are rated highly, and I like his current teachers.

So, do I move him to the new school, or let him enjoy the rest of the school year with his friends?

8

Both are valid options, but reading your post carefully I'd suggest finishing the school year at the old school.

A list of pro's (in somewhat random order):

  • Finishing at his old school should give him some sense of closure - this phase ends for all the current kids next summer. So I can understand that he doesn't want to leave prematurely but (perhaps subconciously) wants "to grow out of it" or " say goodbye" with his friends.
  • Starting in a new class at a random time during the school year will mean he missed a lot of the discussions, agreements and general "settling into school" events the others did at the beginning of the school year - the pecking order and formation of groups is already established. It can be tough to get included.
  • Neither he nor you don't know about the quirks etc. of the teachers which the others already do and by the time you get the hang of it, the year will be almost over.
  • There will be some gaps and overlap with the topics covered, meaning extra work to make sure he covered everything he will need next year. If you change at Christmas it may well mean that you will spend January and February copying notes to make sure that he's literally on the same page as the others.
  • Changing school twice in one year can be really unsettling.

Your suggestion that he should get to know a few kids he will go to middleschool with is basically a good idea. But it need not happen at school:

  • Let your son participate in whatever local activities are offered - church, sports, perhaps other clubs come to mind. A good way to get to know your neighbours (and the neighbourhood), even if you attend a different school.
  • The US has a long summer break - which is a perfect time to make new friends, really get to know them (without lessons or homework that "get in the way") and head off to the new school together. Why don't you look into whatever programs or camps are offered locally? If you put some effort into meeting your new neighbours now, it should be easy to make good plans for the summer.
4

I was in the same situation as yourself. One daughter finishing grade 6 before moving to middle school, the other in grade four.

The move was occasioned by a messy divorce and financial downsizing, so everyone was rattled. I kept the girls at the old school to finish the year, so there would be some continuity. The following year, the older went to middle school and the younger went to the local elementary.

For what it's worth, it took the younger all of grade 5 to stop complaining about the move and realize that she had found an awesome bunch of new friends.

She also used Skype and social media to keep up with the old friends.

In my school district, we only had a choice for the transition year. After that, you had to go with your local.

Probably best to minimize the amount of change in you son's life.

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Both options seem equally good from your description.

Have you considered other downsides of the move, such as trying to make friends there? At middle school there will be lots of other kids trying to make friends, but a year before the end of this school may be difficult to become part of established groups.

There is no right answer, at the end of the day I'd suggest you and your son writing a list of pros and cons and going through the list to make a decision on what seems to work best for you both.

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Your child appears to have expressed a preference to stay at the current school. You don't appear to have any particularly strong evidence for either staying at the current school, or for moving to the new school.

Your child has a right to be involved in decisions about them, and so in this situation where you don't seem to mind much either way you should probably listen to them.

Of course, you should make sure that you and your child are aware of any benefits or problems of moving / staying before you make the decision. And the choice is still yours.

Many children find the process of changing school to be disruptive and distressing. It's probably a bad idea to subject your child to this amount of disruption and distress unless you have a very good reason.

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