If your child needs to go to a new school, it can be a daunting prospect both for them and for you. Everyone will be feeling worried and anxious about how they’ll do and whether or not they will fit in. In some cases, there really is no choice but to move schools, but in others, you might start to wonder if you made the right choice after all. Being the new kid is scary, but there are ways that parents can help their children settle quickly and easily, and they are certainly useful tips to know.
Visit The School
Wherever possible, visit the school before your child’s first day. It’s important to bring your child along with you too so that they can get a feel for the building, the atmosphere, the teachers, and the other pupils. What works well is if your child can go in for a taster session, and spend the entire day at the school. It will really help them to get used to it, and it will make them a lot more excited about going back there when it’s their first day. Knowing what to expect in advance will go a long way to alleviate the worries and fears that would otherwise be building up inside.
No matter what your reason for changing your child’s school – it could be because your work is relocating and you need to organize a series of small moves across the state, for example. Perhaps because you feel they are not getting a good education where they currently are or any one of a number of different reasons, be positive about the change. Make sure that you list out all the great things they can do at their new school, and all the new opportunities they will have. Do your research together, look at the school website, take a look at the extra-curricular clubs, the sports, the music, and if there is a uniform make sure you go to the store to try it all on and make it a fun day with lunch and ice cream. This is exciting, and your child needs to feel that excitement coming from you.
Depending on your child’s personality, age, and understanding of the situation, you may need to field a lot of questions about the school (and possibly home) move. These questions could be about anything from how to make new friends to what the school offers at lunchtime to how many pencils they’re going to need to take with them on their first day. It’s essential that you answer these questions truthfully. If you don’t know the answer, list the query down and when you have a few of them, send them off to the principal of the new school with a note saying that your child is concerned and needs the answers. A good principal will answer; they want your child to be happy in their school just as you do.
No matter what the reason for leaving the old school, your child should have a chance to say goodbye to it. Even if they were only there a short time, they will have become used to the teachers and the other kids, and used to the building too. Even if they are excited to be going somewhere new and keen to meet new people, that last day can be difficult still. Let them take in cards for the teachers to say thank you and goodbye, and ensure that you get contact details for their friends so that they can keep in touch if they want to. They may not want to, or they may start, and then it could tail off, but it’s good to have the options.
The First Day
Find out whether the new school has a certain way of introducing new kids to the class. See if they have a buddy system where someone who has been at the school for a while has the job of looking after the new boy or girl – it’s a great way for your child to become more accustomed to the school. Don’t worry about them being on their own, though, even if this doesn’t happen. New children are interesting, and everyone will want to talk to them to find out more about who they are.
If at all possible, become involved in the school yourself. Join the PTA, arrange coffee mornings, attend as many functions as possible. Doing so will give you a much better idea of what is happening within the school, and it will give you a way to talk to teachers and staff less formally, which can sometimes be useful if you have a concern or a query. If you are more involved in the school yourself, you can find out more quickly if there is anything your child should or shouldn’t be doing, and how they’re feeling. It will also make you feel more positive about the school (assuming you had any doubts), which will directly translate to your child’s thoughts as well.
Give It Time
Something that is very important to remember is that it can take time for your child to settle into a new school. There will be a lot to learn, and new ways to do things, and even if they are enjoying every moment of it all, it can still be difficult to remember these new things. They will eventually though. The transition is different for every child, so if it seems to be taking longer than you might have hoped, yet your child seems perfectly happy, don’t worry too much. If you are concerned, then make an appointment to see a teacher to discuss it, but speak to your child first. It might be that the reason they are still unsettled isn’t to do with the school at all, but is something else entirely, in which case you should know about it and work out how to make it better.