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Jan 13, 2012

New school transition

Daniel and Charlotte love their school. Over time, they have made great friends, gotten to know all the teachers, and are very comfortable in their environment. Daniel's level is particularly interesting because they do a lot of fun activities and field trips, incl. going to the theater, library, etc... and he loves it.

Despite this, my husband and I made the decision to move the kids to a new school that will be much closer to home, and a lot more convenient for our commute. Not sure if it's a better school, it might not be. But the time saved in commute for the kids is hopefully worth it. We had been on the waiting list for a while, and got a new spot for Daniel right when my work relocated to a not-so-convenient location. So the decision had to be made. We knew the old school routine wasn't meant to be for ever anyways since most of Daniel's friends were going to go to Kindergarten in the summer, while Daniel still has one year to go.

Even though it was the right thing to do, I agonized over it for several weeks, dreading the time when we would need to explain it to Daniel, and fearing his reaction on the first days of school. Even worse, Charlotte didn't get a spot yet, so she is still going to the old school- without big brother for the first time.

By coincidence, Daniel had recently started complaining a lot about having to spend a lot of time in the car to go to school, and he asked to go to a closer school. Good timing! We told Daniel about the new school a week before he would leave and showed him the school and new commute over the weekend. First, he seemed to be excited about the shorter commute, but got sad very quickly when he realized that his friends wouldn't come with him. This was a roller-coaster week, where he went from being excited to sad to really upset for no apparent reason.

Thankfully timing helped since we had our 2-week winter vacation between schools and a birthday party coming up in January. So Daniel could say Good Bye to his old friends while looking forward to his Europe trip first and to seeing them again at his birthday party. By the time he came back, he had had a little bit more time to digest. Also, my mother in law had come back with us, and she had a plan to make the transition easy, being able to stay in the classroom longer, and picking him up early to play outside.

The first days were rough. It didn't help that we all had jet lag and Charlotte got a lot of attention since she came back with an ear infection. There was a lot of sadness, insecurity and tears. But by the time Daniel's birthday party came around, 1.5 week later, Daniel had invited new friends to the party and he was ready to say Good Bye to his old friends. (this is what he himself said). He quickly started talking about his "best friends" and all the fun they have at the new school. The teachers' reports seem to point to a happy and active kids, typical Daniel. So all seems to be pretty good already.

Interestingly enough, Daniel seems to have tried to forget about his old friends, probably as a way to process the new school. When picking up Charlotte one day, we ended up going to his old classroom. Daniel hid behind me the entire time, not even talking to his old friends. Definitely not typical Daniel. This was surprising to me at first, but quite understandable in hindsight.

On her side, Charlotte is still not as familiar with the new routine. She doesn't understand yet the concept of schedule, and she is always surprised when Daniel doesn't join us in the car. She is so sad to be in the back of the car by herself, especially for such a long commute. but she cheers up when she sees her teachers and friends in her classroom.
We are hoping that she will soon get a spot in the new school as well. She would have to go through a transition at school in the summer anyways. This will be yet again a difficult time, but I am hoping she will adjust like her brother.... and I hope I will too!


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