Let’s face it – changing schools isn’t always easy. Whether your child has moved from city to city and is starting fresh, surrounded by new faces, or they are simply transitioning from elementary to middle school, making the leap can be a little scary.
While this challenge is largely for your child to overcome, there are a few things you can do as a parent to help them adjust to a new school.
Here are some strategies I’ve embraced to make the transition a little bit easier:
Get familiar with your child’s new school.
The first day of classes shouldn’t be your kid’s first time experiencing their new school. Instead, plan at least one visit to the campus prior to the start of school so your child can get familiar – and more comfortable – with their surroundings.
If they change classes, walking through their day will help them feel more confident when the time comes to move from room to room on their own.
The more exposure your kid can get to their new school before classes kick off, the better they’ll feel when they’re on their own for their first day.
Help them meet new people before classes begin.
Being the new kid in class who doesn’t know anyone can be a little intimidating, to say the least! See if you can find ways for your child to meet kids in the area that will become future classmates.
Sign them up for a local sports team or summer camp, or simply head to the park and see who you can find. Your child will feel much more comfortable knowing they have at least one friend at school waiting for them.
Encourage open dialogue.
If your kid is feeling uneasy about starting their new school, encourage them to share – not hold that information back. Talking through their concerns may ease their worries and help them understand there’s nothing to fear, and you may find what’s really bothering them isn’t at all what you thought it was.
Having open, honest conversations with your child about the transition between schools can be a smart way to make the move easier.
Try some positive reinforcement!
There are dozens of television series, standalone episodes, and movies about kids starting new schools. While some don’t always paint the transition in the most positive light, there are quite a few that frame the experience as a fun, new experience to look forward to.
These scenes can give your kid something to look forward to, and they can also be used as conversation-starters if you’re unsure how they’re feeling about starting a new school.
Be there for them when school begins.
When school starts, the best thing to do is let your kid go in and navigate these new waters for themselves. However, you should make sure you know how things are going, too.
Talk to your child to see whether or not things are going well. Are they still nervous? Did they find a friend? It may take a little while for your child to truly feel at home in their new environment, but with a little encouragement and support, you can help them figure it out.
These tips have definitely helped me manage the transition from one school to the next.
Have you used these strategies to help make switching schools easier, or are there other ways you’ve found to help your kid adapt and adjust a little better?