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New School Blues? 5 Easy Steps to Help Your Child Adjust to a New School*

New School Blues?  5 Easy Steps to Help Your Child Adjust to a New School*

Changing schools can be stressful for children and parents. Depending on where we are in the world, schools can vary quite dramatically. Luckily, a few helpful hints can get you and your children ready to jump into a new school without singing the blues.

Getting your child ready to enter a new school begins by helping them learn to let go of where he or she was coming from. If you haven’t already read it, you may want to also read Is Your Child Prepared to Launch? How to support your child’s ‘letting go’ before moving on. Letting go properly sets your child up to be open and ready for the experience of a new school in his or her new environment.

Most new school stress is linked to the unknown. So, reducing stress by giving your child as much information as possible before he or she arrives is helpful.

5 easy steps to give your child the basic information he or she needs to feel confident walking in the door on the first day:

  1. Be sure your child is registered with the school before the first day of class. Nothing is as awkward as arriving to a place where no one is expecting you.
  2. If possible, tour the school with your child before the first day. Ask to meet with the principle or director, the office staff, and your child’s teacher. Making a personal connection before entering the classroom can calm your child’s nerves and increase his or her sense of belonging.
  3. Ask the school to share with you the logistics of your child’s day: what time does school start and end, what time is lunch, what to bring for snack time, how transportation services work, is there a school nurse, and what are the emergency procedure plans.
  4. See if you can meet other school families to arrange a play-date (for younger children) or meet-and-greet (for older children). Occasionally, schools with heavy student rotation may have a “buddy” system to welcome new children and help new students get through their first days at the new school.
  5. Ask if there are volunteer opportunities for you at your child’s new school, if your schedule allows. You will meet other parents and form connections for you and your child. Additionally, your child will see that the new school is important to you which will help him or her feel more connected.

Emotionally, a change of schools can be nerve wracking for a child. Some additional, easy things you can do to help your child feel calm include:

  • Make sure the school officials have received your child’s academic, health, and behavioral record so they can make the best decision concerning your child’s classroom placement. Appropriate academic placement is exceptionally important for student success.
  • Talk to your child about his or her feelings and convey that it is normal to feel anxious, scared or irritable. Let him or her know that you are available for support and assistance.
  • Help your child maintain optimum health during the school transition by enforcing a regular bedtime and a healthy breakfast before school to start the day on the right path for learning.
  • Assist your child is creating new goals at the new school. Goals may be social (i.e. find a best friend), academic (i.e. improve math grade), or extracurricular (i.e. audition for the play). These goals can give your child something to look forward to.
  • Young children may need parents to go to school with them for the first few days until they build trust with their teacher. Just be sure to drop off and leave. Try to avoid hanging around as this will create stress in your child who can see you but will not be allowed to run to you.
  • Be sure your child’s backpack is packed with everything needed for the first day. Call the school and ask which supplies are required, if a snack is needed, and if any change of clothes is necessary for physical education. Giving your child all the tools needed to fit in will help the adjustment go more smoothly.
  • Finally, encourage your child to verbally identify some positives about the new school. Teaching kids to identify the gifts in their lives (i.e. a quality education) is a way to promote gratitude. Having a child focus on positive aspects of a new school aids in the transition and helps avoid negativity.

Changing schools is never easy for parents or children. However, you can ease the transition by taking some proactive measures to prepare your child. Teaching your child about letting go, making sure the new school has adequate information about your child to do correct academic placement, prepping your child on the school norms and outfitting them with the right tools, and emotionally supporting your child during the change will help you get your child off to the right start. Additionally, it will allow you to notice any negative changes that suggest something may be wrong so you can quickly find a solution.

Knowledge is Power

What new information did you learn from this posting? Did it help you identify something in your family you would like to change?

Share your experience below and what steps you plan on taking to guide your family.

*Based on the recommendations of the Maryland Mental Health Alliance.

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Sunday, 21 January 2018

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