Therapist Offers Guidance on When to Relocate

Therapist Offers Guidance on When to Relocate


I received a question from a parent who has bought a new home in a different city. The home will be ready for the family to move into this month. There is concern about whether it is best for the children, in elementary school, to be transferred into a new school in May or to wait until the end of the school year. 

It is understandable that one might want a child to finish a school year before moving. It seems to provide a sense of closure.  

However, by making this decision, the child will enter the new community knowing no other children over the summer break.  When young, a new student tends to attract attention. Other students are curious. Hopefully the teachers will draw attention to the new child and encourage some welcoming behavior. The new student will develop some familiarity with the people and the building before the new school year. And, perhaps, begin a relationship that might be pursued over the summer.  

The after-school activities end when school does. Typically, children do not play in their yards or neighborhoods where they can be accessed outdoors over the summer. Thus, finding neighbor children can require some work. 

This family does not know people in their new location. There are no family or friends there. This minimizes the ease of meeting people.  

It is uncomfortable for a child to feel alone and disconnected. It is an advantage to have a way to encourage relationships. Being in class creates familiarity with other students. Activities such as sports and dance bring children together also. This offers parents an opportunity to meet.  

I always advocate that children be taken to a new school before they begin attending the school. This is wise when children move from preschool to elementary, from elementary to middle school and from middle school to high school.  Viewing the classrooms, the office, the eating area, the gymnasium, and bathrooms helps lessen anxiety about entering a new building.  

When people move during the summer, the children know no one.  They are not familiar with anyone or the activities that others in their school might pursue. When a child enters a school for the first time at the beginning of a school year, there is no familiarity.  

To lessen the feeling of isolation and the stress of being new to the district, developing a foundation before school is out tends to work best. 



Please submit your questions to me at  I can also be accessed through my web site, 

Dr. Gelman, a local therapist, launched this column last month as a service to Alamedans. She offered to answer questions submitted to her email address. Gelman received several questions from readers already. The questions and answers will be published on a monthly, space-available basis.