Trouble with School after Moving

by Latoya Sparks

Hi Kristina,

My son is having trouble with school after moving from Mass. to Florida. He's 6 years old and is having a very hard time with remembering the answers and questions. How do I get him to remember the work he is doing? Also, I might add, that he is very lazy about doing the work as well.

Kristina's reply to Trouble with School after Moving

I notice this type of reaction from children frequently when some major change happens in their life. It could be divorce, a new
baby in the family, their first year attending full-day 1st grade, their first organized sport with practices every day of the week, etc. Suddenly they don't want to go to dance class which they used to LOVE, or they start getting lower grades in school, or they stop doing their homework when they always used to be great in school. (NOTE: I'm assuming that the physical move to Florida is the major disruption in his life right now, BUT if you've moved to Florida and as a part of that process, your son no longer has a male role model in his life, it will be very, very important to find structure and a male he can be involved with - check into Big Brothers, martial arts, church groups, mentoring programs, etc. Statistically boys fare badly in school when they don't have a dad in the picture, so making sure he has one that is involved with him can help tremendously.)

Children are naturally masters of learning and adapting, but there is a process they go through, and things that can make that process easier for your child. I am imagining he's wanting right now to have control over something, to make something simple that he can have in his power, so that he can feel like he knows what's going on again. Moving that far away can be very disruptive to a kid for a little while. Don't worry - it's natural and he'll get over it! But right now, there are some things you can do to help him adapt more quickly.

I would suggest sticking to a schedule and keeping things low key for awhile. Hopefully he's involved with boy scouts, AWANA, baseball
team, homeschool recess club, or something where he can make friends his own age and do something that is not demanding mentally, but simply fun and/or physical. You could also try to have more of a focus on physical learning right now, like math with manipulatives, science through projects like leaf collecting and categorizing, history through dressing up and living a day in the life of a 19th century farm boy. He may learn better like that at this time in his life because it allows him to be more integrative.

Once he has a few good friends and feels more like Florida is his "home" he will settle down and be able to handle more mentally focused work again. The "funk" could last up to 6 months, but I've not really seen it last much longer than that, in my experience. So expect the adjustment time for him, allow him that mental time and space to acclimate to his new life, and make sure you're helping him stay mentally organized by doing regular activities, staying supportive but firm (rather than accusatory, disorganized, or demanding), involving him with social activities, keeping to a schedule, and giving him a normal or lesser amount of school work right now.

He'll adjust!

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