As the school board goes back and forth on potential redistricting that will affect Centreville and surrounding areas, one thing seems abundantly clear. Some Centreville kids, like it or not, will likely be sent to different schools. While the nuances of the issue continue to be covered by Patch, I decided to contact Fairfax County's School Psychology Services to see if they could provide some insight on how to prepare your child should such a transition occur.
I spoke with John Todd, Program Manager, about the issue. "With any school transition, whether due to redistricting, a move or something else, it can be exciting, but it can also be stressful," he said. "What's important is to help the child feel as if they have some control over what can happen to them."
Todd said that this can be accomplished fairly easily in most cases. "Take pro-active steps. The most important thing is to make sure the child has access to information about the new situation. This is something schools and parents can work on together."
"Parents should familiarize themselves with the new school as soon as it becomes clear their child will be moving," Todd said. "Having discussions with the kids about the school, what they can expect, what their schedule will be like or extra-curricular activities can all make a huge difference. That's true any time a child is changing schools."
Anxiety is a natural response to a real situation that tends to be exacerbated by what we imagine about the situation, according to Todd. "The more we know about a new situation we're entering into, the more beneficial it is in terms of reducing the sources of anxiety we may have." If the child shows signs of anxiousness or seems especially nervous about the situation, the parent should "let them know that [their feelings] are a natural thing, that it can be a nervous time when we're starting something new."
Todd pointed to the training and expertise of the county's personnel. "School staffs have training in helping students adjust. The parent can connect to the child's teacher and the other support people in the building. The school administrator, the school psychologist, the school social worker—they are all there as resources," he said.
Children typically draw their cues about a situation from the adults closest to them. As Todd put it, "having optimism and confidence about the change once you know it's going to happen is key."
It remains to be seen what the school board will ultimately decide. If your child gets redistricted, though, keep in mind that partnering with the schools, talking with your children, getting as much information as possible and presenting a positive, optimistic attitude ultimately will go a long way towards ensuring your children thrive in their new environment.