It’s always tough adjusting to new things, and children can get understandably stressed when going to a new school. Whether the family has moved or the child has advanced to a new school, whether it’s a public or private school, it helps to keep these tips in mind when a child faces a whole new experience.
Be sure to review all information about the new school as it arrives, including your child’s teacher’s name, room number and supply requirements. Your child will likely feel better about the first day if he or she has everything that is needed as early as possible. Get a fun new lunch box and backpack, and fill it with required supplies a week or two before the big day arrives.
It’s a good idea to visit the new school with your child before the first day in order to ease anxiety, and even meet the teacher if possible. Visiting the classroom and lunchroom, and even taking a tour of the building, may get your child excited about the first day. Call ahead to see if the teacher is available for a face-to-face meeting.
Before the first day, designate space to do homework and an area to keep your child’s backpack. Being organized at home gives your child a sense of control during an uncertain time.
When the first day arrives, allow plenty of extra time to get ready, have a good breakfast and get to school on time. Try to clear your own schedule so you can be on hand if any problems arise during the first week of school.
It’s important to let your child know you understand their feelings, and that it’s OK to be nervous about the first day. Pack a note in their lunchbox or backpack, and plan a special activity your child can look forward to after school. Remain upbeat and confident, even if you are nervous too. Children can pick up on parents’ anxiety.
If your child mentions classroom friends, arrange play dates with them to help your child develop strong connections with peers. Having friends will certainly help make the transition to a new school easier. Also, being involved in one or two extracurricular activities will help your child develop relationships and feel connected to his or her new community. Be sure not to overschedule, since this can be stressful not only for your child but the whole family, too.
Another good idea is to volunteer to help in the classroom. This is a good way to develop a relationship with your child’s teacher and classmates and to get firsthand exposure to your child’s daily routine. Having a relationship with the teacher and keeping lines of communication open is a good idea in case issues in the classroom arise. Familiarize your self with other school professionals, such as the guidance counselor or nurse, who can help your child during this transition.
With friends, activities and support from home, starting a new school will not be such a stressful experience.
About the Author:
Jessie Teh is a Malaysia-based writer specializing in topics of school curriculums, unorthodox learning methods as well as the English school syllabus.