(Australian Associated Press)
Children’s academic and social skills decline the more their families move house, researchers have found.
Each additional residential move is associated with a corresponding decline in their reading and maths scores, as well as less positive social skills and higher rates of emotional and behavioural problems.
The Boston College study, published in the journal Child Development, analysed data from a nationally representative US sample of 19,162 children in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, who were followed from kindergarten to eighth grade.
Previous research has found that more frequent residential moves can lead to stress and disrupt children’s routines, with negative repercussions for healthy development.
The latest study found that moving harms children’s wellbeing differently, depending on when it occurs.
“Moves during both early and middle childhood were associated with decreases in children’s social skills and increases in emotional and behaviour problems, and these effects lasted for years,” said lead researcher Professor Rebekah Levine Coley.
“In contrast, moves during middle childhood and early adolescence – after children had started school – had shorter-term effects on children’s reading and math skills, and those effects diminished over time.”
While residential and school mobility were associated with small decreases in children’s functioning, these detriments could accumulate over multiple moves.
“Even without changing schools, the disruptions in daily routines and contexts caused by a residential move may interrupt children’s focus on their schoolwork and inhibit learning,” the authors said.
They called on policymakers, school leaders, and teachers to develop strategies to counter the interruptions that home and school moves pose to children’s education and healthy development.