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Going through the arduous process of buying a house may leave you with all the stress you can handle. But don't forget your kids. The thought of a new house usually brings pangs of anxiety as they think about being the "new kid" - especially if you're moving in the middle of the school year.

Rest assured, yours isn't the only family to go through this experience. The U.S. Census Bureau says that some 43 million Americans moved during a one-year period tracked from March 1999 to March 2000. While some 56 percent of those families stayed within the same county, that doesn't always spare the kids from having to move to a new school.

And with the real estate market continuing to stay steady into the first months of 2003, there are guaranteed to be many more "new kids" roaming the halls of schools across the country in search of their new class assignments.

The confusion and disorder associated with moving, packing, home inspections, taking care of all the final paperwork, and closing up your household is likely to produce a range of emotions for you and your kids.

A lot of how well your child will adjust, experts say, depends on his or her personality and developmental age.

"Some children are naturally outgoing and will be able to make friends immediately while some other children may take months," said Lesia Oesterreich, a family life specialist at Iowa State University Extension, in an article for National Network for Child Care.

If your child tends to be a worrier or gets nervous easily, you'll see those characteristics exacerbated by the move process, she says.

The most important things you can do are to be understanding, acknowledging both positive and negative feelings, and to keep daily routines as normal as possible.

And there are things you can do to help your child adjust to his or her new home and new school.

  • Once you know you will be moving, try to bring your child along when you look at houses so they understand and come to accept that the family will be moving.
  • Plan a farewell party for your child - this helps solidify the upcoming move in your child's mind and helps them accept reality.
  • Take your child to visit his or her new school. If possible, try to arrange for your child to meet the teacher ahead of time.
  • Introduce yourself to neighbors as soon as you move in. Your child may be able to get a head-start on making friends if you live near kids the same age.
  • Gather information on the sports or other extra-curricular activities that interest your child so you know how and when to sign up.
  • Let your child ease into the academic aspect of school. Kids typically learn more easily when they are comfortable and at ease. Give them time to get adjusted to their new learning environment.
  • Encourage your child to invite new friends over to your new house.
  • Scout out your neighborhood parks and take your kids there frequently.
  • When you move into your new home, begin a new keepsake and encourage your child to write about his or her hopes and expectations at the new home.
  • Once you've selected your new house, show your child where his or her room will be. Draw a sketch of the room layout and let your child take part in determining where he or she will place the furniture.
  • If your budget allows, perhaps help your child choose a new décor for the new bedroom. If nothing else, new paint in a bright color is an inexpensive way to brighten up the room and give your child a sense of personalizing his or her new room.
  • Read children's literature about moving to your kids.

    The NNCC says that it can take as long as 16 months for kids and adults to adjust to a move. It usually takes about a month after you're moved in for it to sink in that the reality of friends and familiar places are no more.

    So the most important thing you can do for your child as you move in the middle of the school year is to just be patient. Everyone handles stress and change differently. And be a good role model. Let your kids see and hear you express your thoughts as you sort out your own feelings about your new environment.

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