Many children find this sudden change quite difficult, but with your love, support, and encouragement, your child can adjust successfully. Below are nine tips that can help your child feel at home in a new school.
Tip #1: Give your child plenty of time to adjust.
Many parents feel that the best time to tell their children that they’re moving is immediately-as soon as the parents find out themselves. You may need to make a move for a job, to be closer to family, or to give your family a fresh start, but whatever the reason, be open and communicative with your children about your decision.
Your child will need some time to get used to the idea of moving, say goodbye to friends, and prepare emotionally for the big changes coming. If possible, tell your elementary school-aged kids about the move at least a couple of months in advance.
Tip #2: Be positive.
Your children notice how you feel about something, and they will take their reactions to the move largely from you. If you feel excited and positive about the new move, your kids will feel more secure and excited. When discussing your child’s new school, always focus on the positive consequences, like new friends and teachers.
Tip #3: Tour the new school.
If possible, visit the new school with your child before his or her first day of school. This will be quite easy if you’re moving somewhere nearby and the new school is close; if you’re moving farther away and can’t visit the school till you’ve already relocated, it may take a little more planning.
Show your child where his or her classroom will be, where the bathrooms and lunchroom are, and what the new playground looks like.
Familiarity with the new school will help your child feel less nervous.
Tip #4: Make sure you have all the information you need.
Many schools offer a “welcome packet,” which gives information like when school begins and ends, how the bus system works, how kids can pay for lunches, and more. Your child will feel more calm and prepared if you do as well, so make sure you’re informed and know what to do on the first day of school.
Tip #5: Meet the new teacher.
Meet the new teacher with your child. Explain any special needs or interests your child might have, and ask the teacher how you can help your child prepare to enter his or her classroom. Many children are shy when meeting a new adult, but you can help your child feel more at ease with his or her new teacher if you meet the teacher together.
Tip #6: Accompany your child.
Your children may take the bus to school, but if they appear particularly nervous during the first few days, don’t hesitate to accompany them. Some kids will feel more comfortable if Mom or Dad walks them to the classroom; other kids would rather die than be seen in public with their parents. Offer to accompany your children, and then let them make the call.
Tip #7: Listen.
Adjusting to a new school may be very difficult for some children. Be sure to listen to their concerns with compassion. Encourage conversations with your children and validate their frustrations. Tell them often that you love and believe in them.
Many children will need extra stability at home while they cope with so many changes at a new school. Try to establish routines that your child can count on each day. Do everything you can to be supportive and stable while interacting with them.
Tip #8: Meet other kids.
Some schools have a “buddy system” and can pair your child with another student who will help your child navigate the first few days at the new school. If possible, arrange a playdate with another student in the same grade as your student.
Many parents find that their children make friends easily while participating in local or school activities. Help your child join a club or a sports team, get involved in after-school dramas, or learn a new instrument. As your child interacts with other children during these activities, he or she may feel more comfortable at the new school.
Tip #9: Become involved.
Your children will feel that their new school is important to you if they see you get involved. Join the PTA or volunteer at the school as a teacher’s aide or something similar. As you meet other parents and interact with various teachers, you may get other ideas about how to help your child adjust to the new school.
Follow these tips to help your children feel happy and comfortable at school. For more ideas on how to help your children adjust during a move, check out our blog.