Moving Mom Monday: Stacey Markovetz
Moving Mom Mondays is an ongoing series where we get to hear from real moms and real families that move all over the world. If you know someone who would be interested in sharing their story, please contact us! We’d love to hear from you!
1. Tell us a little about your family – How long have you been moving? What city have you lived in the longest? Where were your kids were born?
My husband, Mike, works for a construction contractor which is why we started moving. We have been with the company for almost 14 years and we started moving with them immediately. In our time with the company, we lived in North Dakota, Florida, Virginia, Lenexa, Kan., Mackinaw, Ill., Chatham, Ill., Rogersville, Tn. and now, Olathe, Kan. Our longest stay in any one location was Chatham, Ill. and we have quite the map of birthplaces for all our children. Our oldest son, Tyler, who is almost 15 years old, was born in North Dakota, our daughter, Kaylee, was born in Virginia, our next son, Jason, was born in Illinois and our youngest, Andrew, was born in Tennessee. Prior to moving for Mike’s job, both of us grew up in towns where we lived in the same place our whole lives.
2. What are some of the unique challenges you face once you transition from moving with younger children, to moving with school-aged children?
For a mom, it is always difficult to make mom friends in your new area. Once they were in school, I thought it would be easier, but it wasn’t. Wherever we moved, all the moms knew each other since their kids were in kindergarten together, so they already had their mom friends.
3. Is it more difficult to move your children during the school year or in the summer?
Tyler started kindergarten in Mackinaw, Ill. and then we moved during the school year. We found elementary kids are super welcoming, so for the move during the summer or school year, it really didn’t matter in elementary school. Everything will fall into place just right and usually will go smoothly in elementary school. I asked the kids what they thought on this topic, because I thought if I was moving the kids, I would move them during the school year. But when I asked our kids, they said they would much rather go in brand new at the beginning of the year when everyone else is new to the year also. Sure, the kids aren’t all new to the school like they were, but students are in new classes with new people they don’t know as much in the beginning of the year. If they were to go in when school has already started, kids would have their social groups established. I thought kids would want the extra attention, because everyone loves the new kid, but that isn’t important to them, even in elementary school.
Another thing I always did was to make sure it was known that they were the new student. I talked to another mom who moved and she said that was a great thing to do. I spoke with their teacher, principals and any moms or fellow students we came in contact with when we were getting to know people.
4. What the is the shortest you would ever allow for your child to attend a school during a move? If you had a short move somewhere, how did you handle it with schooling?
With all of our moves, they just happened to correspond with the end of the school year. We didn’t wait around for the school year to end, but we didn’t have to move prior to the end of the school year because my husband would be in transition for those last few months of school, so we stayed put. The shortest amount of time we would ever let them go to a new school is a full school year in one spot. You never really know until you are in that situation though. But, if our company was to say, we need you here for six months, I don’t think we would make the move with my husband. I don’t think it would be great for our kids. I could see them shutting down in the situation because they would go in thinking, “I’m only here for six months, so there’s no point in making friends or investing myself in this place.”
5. How do you approach a teacher/new school when your child is getting ready to start the school year?
I always make sure to get a private tour at the school with the kids along so the kids felt more comfortable in a new space. I would tell the teacher they were new, but also tell them WHY we moved and explain our situation. We weren’t a family that had lived in the same place for 10 years and was just making this one move, our lifestyle was different than most families.
6. How do you prioritize the quality of a school into your move and relocation?
When we moved to Chatham, we already knew a lot of people who lived there, so I had already heard great things about the school and I wasn’t worried about the quality of the school. But for other moves, I did look at websites and reviews on lots of different aspects of the school, including diversity since that is an important component to us. Don’t be afraid to call and talk to a principal, because they should be more than happy to speak with you and help you understand their school before your children start there. Another good idea would be to talk to the PTO president about the school. That wouldn’t be a bad person just to get to know.
7. How do you best prepare your children to start at a new school?
You teach them how to introduce themselves and ask people’s names. Always make sure to remind people they were new, so if they needed to ask a question, they didn’t feel dumb. Once I know who my kids are hanging out with, I try to get to know their families. A good way to do this is to get involved with your child’s classroom.
One thing I noticed is that everyone is always so worried how their kid is going to be, and I told Tyler that every time we moved my heart broke for you not being able to grow up with the friends you had made. But if I let my heart ache dictate or be the compass in how you handle these circumstances, we wouldn’t have gotten through at all. You can’t dismiss their sadness, because that isn’t good, but you try to focus on the positive. Remind them they will have friends all over and you get to travel and get to see all these things. I grew up not moving, so I don’t know what I missed out on. I love it when I hear the kids talking about what they saw in a certain location and what they remember about it. But I am sure to tell the kids, this is not normal. It is not normal to travel as much as we do, but because we have the gypsy gene in us and in our family, we can’t sit still and be ok.
8. How do you handle the differences in different state’s curriculum and rigor in their schools? How do you make sure your children stay ahead of the game and stay up-to-date with their peers?
You have to be personally invested in your child’s educational proficiency. There were times I was worried about the rigor of the school system, so I called friends in our previous hometowns and asked what the kids were doing and I worked with the kids so they continued to be where they should be. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends around the country. And I’ve even called a school in another part of the country and asked to talk to a teacher. Be an advocate for your child, and make sure that if the school isn’t challenging them based on what they already know, that they are challenged at home. Internet makes it easy to find curriculum. You can type in 2nd grade math and you can pull up all kinds of things that your children can work on.
9. What have been the best experiences your children have had with teachers? How do some teachers make a transition easier on new students?
I think all the teachers are really good about helping new students adjust, especially if you tell them your situation and ask them to make sure that they help your child adjust. Say to them, “I want to work with you,” and typically they will partner with you to make the transition easy. A lot of times, we would go into our child’s conferences and our kids grades were fine, but I didn’t care about their grades. I asked how they were doing socially, because to me, that is what was important. I always had Mommy worry that they were not adjusting, but they were always adjusting fine. Kids handle things way better than an adult does usually. If a parent dwells on the move and change and sadness, it will make it horrible for the whole family. Make it positive, even if you don’t think it’s positive at the time. Remember though, it is ok to cry and show sadness about a move, depending on your kids’ age. I bawled when we left Chatham, but I didn’t want my kids to see because they were just as tore up.
When we left Tennessee, I showed my emotions a little more because they always thought I never struggled with the moves, so it was important for them to see that sometimes I did . You have to feel out your kids. You don’t want them to feel bad for feeling bad. It’s ok to be sad, but the great thing is, now a move is not a final end to friendships they made. With technology, you can hook back up with friends.
10. Any other words of wisdom when it comes to new schools/being the new kids?
The biggest thing to remember is you need to do what is right for your family. You can definitely listen to the advice of other people. Sure take their advice, but be true to yourself. Also, when you move to an area, take locals’ opinions with a grain of salt because everyone thinks their school, neighborhood, church is the best and nothing else would compare.
-compiled by Emily Robertson