changing schools - am I damaging my children?(15 Posts)
I'm at my wits end and could really do with some sage advice. I have two dd's (4 and 7) and for varying reasons (mainly connected to my dh's job, house moves etc.), they have already attended numerous schools. My eldest is on her 3rd primary and my youngest is one her 2nd including pre-school. My husband currently works in independent schooling and we would never afford the fees without the discount we receive so (stupidly, it would seem now) we decided to take advantage of this when he moved to his last 2 jobs - especially as my eldest was falling behind in the state school at the time. They have both coped well with previous moves and now seem pretty happy (they moved in Sept 2017). Unfortunately, his new job has gone completely wrong and it's clear that we will have to move the children AGAIN. I'm absolutely distraught. I feel like I'm ruining their little childhoods by moving them again. I was moved around lots as a child and I can still remember the anxiety it gave me. There really is no possibility of my husband just 'sucking it up' and sticking with the job for the sake of the children - he is seriously at risk of a mental breakdown and I can't ask him to stay there. So now I'm sitting here at 5am on a Saturday morning in floods of tears wondering how I could have made such bad decisions and potentially damaged my children's mental health and education. Has anyone got any similar experiences or advice? At the moment I'm just utterly consumed with guilt.
Kids are amazingly adaptable.
My DS attends an overseas international school where kids stay on average 2 years due to military and diplomatic postings.
The kids are all confident, tolerant outward looking teens who have had enriching experiences by seeing different schools and meetings lots of different people.
They are in their final Year and are all off to good Unis including Oxbridge.
Moving schools often is the norm here and I have seen the very positive outcome off this.
They stay in touch with social media and DS has friends scattered all over the world.
Your children are young and adaptable. They live in the moment. By the time they are in their late teens they truly won't care that they moved a lot as tiny children.
Your husbands health is much more important.
Thank you so much devondream. I can't tell you how much I need to hear something like that. I can't talk to my husband about how worried I am as he is already wracked with guilt that he couldn't make the job work for the kid's sake. I really appreciate your comments.
Our record is three schools in 1 academic year....
The kids have good friends, and doing well accademically, and are happy.
They will benefit more from another move and a happy father, than staying where they are and watching their father suffer.
Lots of people move their children frequently with no issues. It’s also easier to make moves when they are younger and not doing exams.
Has your husband looked at jobs abroad? My SIL and her husband are both teachers and have made had some very successful posts in international schools. It can be very lucrative too, often with accommodation provided.
Thanks all, I really appreciate the comments. HamishBamish - thanks, we did think about it at one point, but in fact he is now determined to get away from the education sector all together (he's not a teacher) and I have an elderly mother here who I would be loathed to leave.
Please don't worry. You know your kids best and whether they will be as anxious as you were as a child.
I too moved school a lot as an army brat, one school every year from nursery to year 7. And my parents split temporarily when I was 8, so there were 3 schools that year lol. Makes a grand total of 10 schools.
My parents always made it exciting by just being excited about a new experience. I guess I would have given in to my natural anxious being if they hadn't, us kids just followed the upbeat attitude of the adults and we have many wonderful experiences from moving, car games, hotel games, rituals eg alway get take away in the new place for dinner and always unpack the bikes first so the neighbourhood can be explored.
I also didn't feel properly sad about leaving friends until I was almost 10yo. Before then, no lasting or real sadness for people for longer than a week.
Long term Pros and cons in my experience.
Pro - can walk into any room and not feel an ounce of anxiety, whether it be a large or small social gathering with friends/family, work gathering, interview, meetings etc, (not bad for an introvert)
Pro - I am not cliquey at all because I know how it feels to be the new person. There is a lot of long lasting empathy there and I know how to put people at ease quickly
Pro - I am not afraid of new experiences, whether they turn out better or worse, taught me at a young age to relish and appreciate the good things whilst it was happening and put perspective on the bad, knowing it isn't forever and I could get through it.
Pro - I can hold my own in any situation comfortably, this comes from the variety of people I have met in my childhood. I learnt young that no one is better or worse than me, it means I can confidently get my point across in any situation.
So they are the main positives my parents gave to me by moving. I truly think I would not have this inner confidence and independence if they haven't. Naturally I am a creature of comfort and introverted. My friends are amused at the introverted label as I'm very confident socially and in the workplace.
CON - it took a long while in adulthood and a dh to point out that it was Ok not to move every 1 to 2 years, he thought I was bonkers when our 1st lease was up for renewal and I automatically said' where's next?
Con - sometimes I didn't speak up when I struggled at school with a particular subject ie long division and fractions were just being taught at one school and the next school had just finished teaching. I felt dumb so kept quiet making me feel inadequate in maths right into high school.
Sorry for long post, really you know your kids needs and how to manage there worries. Be aware and sympathetic of your kids needs but make the experience of moving fun, watch out for educational gaps and for yourself... Remind yourself that you could stay in this crappy situation for years just in case you harm your kids wellbeing (I'm confident you won't) resulting in you and dh in an unhappy situation. What type of message about work does that give the kids? And your kids will feed off that unhappiness. My parents always had a plan, no moving school once in high school. They couldn't be more right with the 3 kids they had. Kids mainly need the relationship with parents for stability up to the age of 10, friends are really just social interactions and familiarity up until then.
If you have a chance to be happier, embrace it while they are young, you won't regret anything and kids will benefit way more than staying put!
I’ve just woken up feeling sick and anxious about the whole thing all over again and your message has really helped me put things in perspective Scaussie75. Thank you! Great advice. Needless to say we can’t tell the children what the situation is yet because it would then get back to the school about the fact my husband is looking to leave, but we’ve tried to start introducing the idea. We walked past our local village school yesterday and talked to the kids about how great it would be to be able to walk to school and get to know all of the kids in the village. They both seemed broadly positive and agreed when we talked about how lucky they are to have so many friends from each of the schools they’ve been to.
Now we just have to find a school place for then both and a job for my husband ...
Question - would you consider it better to move them ASAP so that they don’t get too accustomed to their current school (been there since Sept) and settle quicker in new school or is it better to wait until new academic year? They will be going in to year 1 and 4 respectively in Sept.
Is there any chance your husband would get a job that involves a house move? If so, stay where you are until he has a job - you might end up moving them to the village school, and then again once DH has a new job.
Can you pull them out of the current school without alerting school to the fact DH wants to move on? If you dont want school to know, keeping them where they are sounds like the way forward.
But you know the situation best. Don't stress, it sounds like you are looking out for everyone's best interests, and will make the best decision you can with the infomation you have.
Lots of sensible advice re school and agree I would leave it as late as possible but get them on a list now.
As an aside is your husband getting some external support?
You day he's at risk of a breakdown in this job, were the previous moves for similar? Wondering if a visit to GP and a period of sick leave if he's that stressed with a view to counselling etc long term
There’s another option, which will also totally assuage any guilt. Why not Home Ed? Education is compulsory but school isn’t. You could have loads of happy times with them without putting them through an upheaval.
I think OP you are where you are and can't change it. With the youngest I think it's normal to move between preschool and KS1 anyway so I don't think that even counts. The older one awful though it sounds probably thinks that moving around schools is normal so it will be easier than moving a child who has been at the same school from the start.
In answer to the other question I think if DH has worked out his job situation it will give you more stability in decisions around the school. But it sounds like a toxic situation and if he ends up signed off sick it might not be easy to keep them there anyway.
Thanks all. Re: my dh, he has a tendency towards anxiety and depression (unfortunately we both do). He has been treated for it previously with medication and counselling etc. , but has been managing well over the past few years with exercise etc. With hindsight, moving the kids to his school when he got the job was a big mistake as it has increased the pressure on him to make the job work - but at the time the opportunity for the kids seemed amazing (at barely any financial cost). Ho hum. Now he’s opened up and decided that he needs to move on I think he already feels better. He has recognised that he has overstretched himself and needs to find something much more ‘him’. A trip to the GP may help, but sick pay is not available with his job.
We earn around the same and I’ve just settled in to a job I love so I don’t think a move is on the cards (famous last words perhaps!). We’ve only been in our new house and village a year and really want some stability now.
I love the idea of homeschooling, but financially I just don’t think we could make it work as we both need to work.
Thanks again for all of your advice. I have been so low about this - trying to be strong for dh, but secretly terrified and I can’t tell you how much it helps to get some sensible advice (and reassurance that I’m not the worst mother ever!).
OMG you are not the worse mother ever!! wanting your kids to be happy, worrying about your children's wellbeing and feelings and then researching your worries??? Best Mother Ever
You sound selfless and loving to both your children's and husbands needs. I hope you are taking some time out from their needs to concentrate on doing something nice for yourself too.
Your earlier question about when to change schools?
Your youngest will just slot right in whenever. Should be the same with your eldest but it depends on her personality and the dynamics of the kids she is with, if she makes friends easily and is put with a friendly bunch, she will love it long term.
It also depends on if you have to put them on a waiting list too, in that case, the decision is not yours, so no need to worry.
I moved dd half way through year 2 ( not a choice, but a space came up) and she screamed she didn't want to move, she would miss her friends, and I worried we had made a big mistake. 1st day at new school she loved it but made a point of telling me 'but not that much that she would want to stay' . A month later she was saying how she loved her new school much better and the people were way better.
Coming in half way suited her, she likes being the centre of attention.
From about 7yo, I recall that starting new on the 1st day was a bit nerve-wracking because everyone was excited about seeing each other again, talking about holidays, etc but I slightly preferred it as I wasn't the main focus.
Starting half way through, made me the main focus but it was a much calmer environment as everyone was well established in their routines.
I can't say that one scenario is really more beneficial than the other, they are both equally experiences that will benefit your children later in life (ie overcoming anxious moments, just keep it light).
I would suggest not focusing on it too much, because there is no wrong scenario. Either scenario you are flocked with new friends the first days, everyone wanting to know about you and being sweet. It's a great feeling being so wanted
I wouldn't share too much about the move until about a week before hand.
I'm just thinking that there is no need to leave loads of time for them to worry about it.
Im sorry to hear your dh has anxiety and depression in the past and it's great he has recognised the potential for it this time around. I promise the kids will be fine with any move. Put your worry energy in getting dh that new job and I bet in a years time you will look back at this post wondering why it was such a hard decision.
Sleep well tonight xxx
Thanks so much scaussie75. Am feeling much more positive about things now. About to arrange a visit to our village school and am hopeful that we can get the girls excited about the prospect.
Thanks again for all of your kind words and advice x
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