Helping Make Moving Less Messy

In this post, I cover tips on helping make the Big Move a little easier for both you and your little one.

As many of you know, the content of this blog is reader-guided, and I love to have suggestions from parents/caregivers/childcare educators who follow the blog or who I interact with in daily life. I have a parent in one of the classrooms at my preschool who is moving at the end of this month, and she has asked if it were possible for me to address how to help your child with a move, and tips on how to help them adjust and how to make the transition smoother/less stressful/essentially easier for all those involved.

Include Your Child As Much As Possible

Depending on the distance and location of your move (as well as the age of your child), the amount that they can participate can vary; but that doesn’t mean they still can’t feel involved! Something I have learnt during my time working with young children is that you can never underestimate how much they know about a situation; even if they don’t understand the mechanics, they know something is going on, so don’t try sweeping it under the rug or playing a large event in your lives down too much. Instead, have your child involved in the aspects of the move that are appropriate it, and by doing this, it allows them to see that there isn’t anything to be afraid of and allows you to talk them through the process and challenge any fears or apprehensions they have head on. Here are some things you can do leading up to the move to help you all feel more prepared:

  • Take your child with you to see the new house/new school/new neighbourhood. Ask their opinion about what they see: ‘I like how the new park has a slide and a tunnel. What do you like about the new park?’
  • When you get information from the real estate agent, you can show these/share them with your child
  • Plan a visual ‘scavenger hunt’ for things you want to find in your new neighbourhood (you want to make sure they are fun to look for, but that they are able to be found!) You can use Google Maps beforehand to see what’s in the area, and this can also include things like a rose bush, or a fire hydrant. Maybe include some things that are similar to your old neigbourhood.
  • Have your child draw a ‘plan’ of how they want to set up their new bedroom.
  • Read some books with your child about moving (I’ll make a list of some recommended ones at the end!)

Handling the Emotional Aspects

  • Young children have more fluid attachments when it comes to people outside of their immediate family. I have seen many children come and go in my classrooms, either from moving house, moving schools, or just moving up into a new classroom! The students that remain behind seem to accept this as part of life; they are always very curious as to why the absent child has left, and from time to time they will bring them up and tell me that they miss them. But for these children, their strongest attachments are with their family, then extended family/nannies/constant babysitters, then teachers, and then their friends. I tell you this as a reassurance that whilst it will be saddening for you child to leave their friends, because their friendships are so fluid, they will also easily make new ones, especially if their new teacher is made aware of the situation and can help assist them in entering play at the new school!
  • Monitor the visual/emotional/nonverbal cues and signals that you are sending. If you are coming off as tense, rigid, distractible, or irritable, even if you are saying to your child ‘Don’t worry honey, we’re going to have so much fun in our new house!’ your child is going to believe your emotions far sooner than your words.
  • Hand in hand with the above tip– I don’t expect you to handle the move like a robot; even if everything goes swimmingly, it can be a heavy weight on a parent’s shoulders juggling all the things that need to get done! Please, reach out to me, your child’s teacher, and tell them what you have going on and anything that we can do to help, be it anything like keeping an extra eye on your child’s feelings during the day, or maybe talking to him about the upcoming move. You can do this with his new teacher as well!
  • If you child expresses concerns about certain friends or family members (or even a favourite teacher of his) that he will miss, you can help him come up with a plan on how you can all stay in touch. You can get a notebook and tell him it is his ‘Keeping In Touch’ Book (or any other name, I am sure you can think of things far better than me). In the notebook, help collect phone numbers, pictures, addresses, and emails of the people he will miss. With modern technology today, you can also communicate with fellow parents/family members about doing things like talking over Skype so he can see them as well!

Ultimately, young children are far more resilient than I think many of us remember to give them credit for. Moving is a stressful time for adults, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful time for your child as well! I remember moving when I was young; I moved from my home country  of England when I was about seven across the world to a country in SE Asia called Singapore. My dad introduced the whole concept of moving my telling me about how different the weather was there, and how we would have to ‘acclimatise’ to the tropics, and all the fun and different things we would do. I remember being so excited for the move; I don’t remember having much anxiety or stress at all, even though I am sure (looking back) it was very stressful for my parents!

Here are some books you can read with your child about moving:

  • Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move- Judith Viorst
  • The Berenstain Bears Moving Day- Stan and Jan Berenstain.
  • A House for Hermit Crab- Eric Carle
  • A Kiss Goodbye- Audrey Penn

Let me know what you think, or different ways that you have helped your children cope with moving and difficult transitions.

Miss Jaide

 

Sowing the Seeds of Friendship

Nuturing strong social skills in your child is an important aspect in helping them nurture a sense of self and find lasting friendships

I had an interesting chat with a parent of one of my students this past Friday afternoon; she has a little girl in my class and the conversation had turned to the different ways that children seem to follow each other. I am sure that many, if not all of you, have seen your child adapt their likes/dislikes to fit in with their classmates and their friends. Sometimes this can be endearing, sometimes it can be a challenge, and other times it can be alarming. I can tell you that one of the things I take to heart the most as an early childhood teacher is helping my little ones develop strong social skills. In this post, I want to touch on some of the more common behaviours I see crop up when preschoolers are navigating the social scene, the goals that are most beneficial for them to be working on, and ways we can help them through the highs and the lows of friendship.

The Nuts and Bolts of A Preschooler’s Friendship

Watching a child figuring out who they are is absolutely awesome. I have taught hundreds of children and I still get amazed when I see their little personalities really emerging in the classroom. Sometimes, however, I can see the social tactics that are emerging as well, and I don’t like those as much. Thankfully, I am in the perfect place to set them on the right track.

Children like to categorise things in their world around them; when things are labelled and put in compartments it helps them make sense of things. As they are figuring out ‘what works for me’ and ‘what doesn’t work for me’, these labels become more complex. As teachers and parents/families, we see these labels come into play with who they pick and chose as friends, their clothing choices, the colours/movies/things they like, etc. For instance:

  • I only like Rapunzel now. She has long hair, like me. That’s why I can only like her.
  • I used to play with John, but he didn’t wear red today. Zack and I wear red, it’s our favourite. So we don’t play with John anymore.
  • Pink isn’t for boys. Only girls can like pink.
  • Grey is an ugly colour, princesses don’t wear grey!
  • We don’t want to play with her, because we’re playing ponies, and there’s only 3 ponies. She’s too many ponies.
  • Mary is my friend and her mommy says the red part of the apple is yucky. I don’t want to eat the red part of the apple.

These are all actual quotes from students I’ve had throughout the years! A key to a happier preschooler, which will lead to a happier adult, is the ability to both enter play well and handle the disappointment when their attempts aren’t always successful. We want to help our kids be able to communicate with the friends they’re trying to play with, to be able to enter a game that’s already established successfully, and be able to cooperate with others when they aren’t able to get what they want.

Way to Help Friendship Skills Grow

We can’t dump too much abstract wisdom on our children; telling them that colours don’t really matter or that everybody can be friends are too far-fetched concepts for them to truly grasp. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use more concrete things to get their social skills growing!

  • I have found over and over again that the best thing I can do for the kids in my classroom is be aware of the things I model to them. How can I tell them the importance of talking nicely to their friends if I don’t talk nicely to them, even when I am really frustrated that the same child has been caught hitting for the umpteenth time that day? Children are naturally curious and they will eavesdrop when I am talking to a child about the wrong choices he/she made in my classroom. No matter how angry I may be, I have to show them I can be angry and still be respectful.
  • Help children become aware of others’ feelings– this is especially important for your toddlers. They are so egocentric at this stage in their life, they are physically incapable of understanding the world outside of their own lens. If they get into a disagreement with their friends, talk them through what’s going on: ‘Jessica, John is unhappy because you took the crayon he was using.’ Make sure this applies to positive feelings as well: ‘Look at how happy Sally is playing with you in the sandbox!’
  • Let’s Cooperate! With my older preschoolers, I’ll often see a scenario like: Tom and James are building in the sandbox. Everything is going well until Tom decides he can’t wait for James to be done with the digger. He grabs it from him. James screams ‘Heeeeeeeey!’ and grabs back at him. Everything disintegrates and both of them run to me yelling about how one took the other’s digger. I like to take them back to the sandbox, ask them each to tell me their own version of what happened, and then paraphrase back to them what I am hearing to be the problem. Then I ask them: ‘How can we fix this?’ This is a great problem solving question and it helps them understand that they need to solve their social issues together; I am not going to fight their battles for them (although I will be watching, even if they don’t realise that!) Some children need prompting with solutions at first, but the goal is to help them understand how they can work together and overcome an issue on their own, allowing their play to flow freely.
  • Helping them get into the (already established) game– One of the things I hate hearing is that little voice say to me ‘Miss Jaide, I don’t have a friend’ or ‘Miss Jaide, nobody wants to play with me’. Many times, the child that is telling me will have a habit of lingering on the sidelines of games he/she wants to get involved in, but doesn’t really know how. Forcing this child onto the already playing children with statements like ‘Girls, you need to let Susan play with you’ will only breed resentment for Susan and resentment for me. The better way for me to handle it is for me to say something like: ‘Hey girls, I see you have built an awesome house here in the block area. Susan is looking for somewhere to play, and it seems that you could use another person to help you build. Can you please show her how she can help you work on your house?’

I don’t expect all my children in my classroom to be friends and that’s fine. But they can act friendly and always treat each other with respect. When I hear hurtful things coming from one to another such as ‘You’re not my friend anymore!’ or the grand-daddy of insults ‘You can’t come to my birthday party!’ I will cut off things like that at the source. Saying things to hurt someone’s feelings is never acceptable, and for a preschool age child, it is usually because they are unable to correctly assess why they are upset, or they have reached a limit with their communication and pulled the ultimatum. I like to get conversation going with my kids, asking them why they said those things, why they’re angry, telling them it’s okay to be angry and offering them the right words to say so. I also like to tell children that sometimes, it’s okay to not play with a particular friend, especially if that friend are having a rough day and making you feel badly! I explain this with things like: ‘I know it upset you that Sarah said you can’t be her friend. But I don’t think it’s a good idea that you are trying to be Sarah’s friend right now anyway, because she is making you feel bad. Let’s go find a friend you can have fun with, and Sarah can be friends with you when she is ready to treat you nicely.’

I know this ended up being a bit on the longish side, but it was an important topic! I still haven’t said enough, but it sure is a good jump-off point. Looking forward to hearing any thoughts you have on how your children socialise.

Miss Jaide