Moving to a new home may harm young children’s school performance, a study suggests.
Youngsters who get uprooted are also more likely to have developmental problems, the researchers found. However, the study could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The research included information on more than 19,000 children across the United States. The kids were followed from kindergarten through eighth grade.
A child’s age at the time of a move may make a big difference, the study authors noted. And the more times a child moved, the more potential for problems, the findings suggested.
“Moves during both early and middle childhood were associated with decreases in children’s social skills and increases in emotional and behavior problems, and these effects lasted for years,” said study leader Rebekah Levine Coley. She is a professor of applied developmental and educational psychology at Boston College.
Moves during mid-childhood or early teen years were linked to shorter-term effects on reading and math skills, Coley said. The effects of moving during those years also seemed to diminish over time, she added in a news release from the Society for Research in Child Development.
Reading and math scores went down with each additional move. Each move was also tied to poorer social skills, and higher rates of emotional and behavioral problems, the study reported.
The investigators also said that moving to a new home — even without changing schools — can disrupt daily routines, which can interrupt children’s focus on their schoolwork and inhibit learning.
Moving may be necessary due to job changes or high housing prices, said study co-author Melissa Kull, formerly a doctoral student at Boston College.
To help families, “policymakers, school leaders and teachers must develop strategies to counter the interruptions that home and school moves pose to children’s education and healthy development,” Kull added. She’s now a research scientist at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The study was published May 25 in the journal Child Development.
The American Academy of Pediatrics explains how to help children adjust to a move.