One of most significant challenges of moving when you have kids is transitioning part of a new school. In Ontario, schools are tied to addresses that requires a change in schools. And while it is stressful, the transition process should not keep you back from buying a home in new neighbourhood or a new district. As a matter of fact, you and your kids may end up liking their new school better- just like my kids did when we made the big move from Toronto to Kitchener back in 2014.
Here are some tips on how to choose a new school, get your children ready for the transition and create a smooth experience for the whole family.
CHOOSING YOUR NEW SCHOOL
For most parents, researching schools is a big part of the home buying process. You can search school catchment area on the WRDSB website (http://www.bpwe.stswr.ca) where you will find school information, which school your child will attend and transportation eligibility.
While it is true that in the Waterloo Region, your home school is tied to your address, it doesn’t necessarily make that school your only choice. You can choose to place your kids in the Waterloo Region District School Board, Waterloo Catholic School Board, Montessori or Private School.
When you have your new address, take some time to visit both main school boards and if you are considering private school, research the options available nearby. When it comes to private schools and Montessori options, prices vary wildly, so it’s worth looking at various schools to see which ones best fit your needs and budget.
NEW SCHOOL ROUTINES
VISIT THE SCHOOL IN ADVANCE
If possible, arrange to have your kids visit the school well in advance of the move day. Having a sense of what to expect can help relieve some anxiety and can give you the opportunity to talk through the things that are making them most nervous.
PRACTICE THE ROUTE TO SCHOOL
Will your kids be walking with you or someone else? Riding their bike? Taking transit? Being dropped off by car? No matter how they get there, you all need to know all the little details.
If your child qualifies for bussing, make sure the bus company has set up your route number and pick up/drop off times. Make sure you set up an e-mail notification with the bus company when they’ll be delays and cancellations.
PREPARING YOUR CHILD FOR THEIR FIRST DAY
When you are new to a neighbourhood, it can be tough to walk into a new school when you don’t know anyone. Luckily, many schools have Facebook pages or groups for their parent council. Join the group and introduce yourself.
You may be able to find a family that lives nearby whose child would be willing to show your kids around over the first few days.
PREPARING YOURSELF FOR THEIR FIRST DAY
FIND OUT HOW THE SCHOOL COMMUNICATES WITH THE PARENTS
Some schools use email newsletters, Twitter or Facebook or other apps. Others just have announcements in the school and rely on kids and word of mouth at the schoolyard. Find out how your teacher, your school and your parent council gets the word out to parents. Getting it all sorted out right away helps you get used to new routines more quickly.
GET THE SCHOOL CALENDAR
Try to find the weekly, monthly and annual calendar for your child. The weekly calendar will help you figure out when to send gym clothes, instruments etc., and also if any tests or quizzes happen regularly.
The monthly calendar will let you know of upcoming spirit days, pizza lunches and evening events like movie nights and concerts.
The yearly calendar will give you a birds-eye view of important days, the big events like winter and spring concerts and any other mainstay school traditions.
ROLL WITH IT
A transition to a new school can be tough. There will be good days and bad days and meltdowns will come out of nowhere. Just hang in there and things will get easier in time.