Changing schools is a big deal for children; especially if they are in middle school. To be a pre-teen is confusing enough for a child, a new school is going to be an added burden to them. It is normal to expect resistance to this decision of the parents by children, and many of us may be at a loss on how to handle this situation.
I have put in a few pointers that I have received, from some parents who have been through similar situations, and from my personal experience.
Explain The Reasons
Yes, do it to a point of the child’s understanding. A pre-teen generally has good comprehension. If you are moving cities or the country, it is going to get harder, as it also includes adjustment of a new social environment. So it is important that you talk to them about the move.
It is easier when you are just changing schools in the same city, as some stability still remains. If you are changing schools for the sake of a better education, facilities, commute etc, a pre-teen will more or less resist it, but still be open to listening to reason.
Do Not Wait Until Last Minute
If you are planning to look for a school change, tell the children beforehand, as much as possible, and allow them to have a talk with you and your spouse together. It gives them enough time to deal with the change in their own way.
But a sudden move will unnerve them, and they would feel forced to accept the decision, and later resent it.
Further, telling them ahead also gives them the time to say goodbye to their friends, get contact details etc.