Soon, many kids will be starting school and for some this will mean a new town, new classmates or just a new school. How can you make the transition easier for kids?
Cate O’Malley of Sweetnicks knows a thing or two about changing schools. Her dad worked for an oil company when she was in grade school and she transferred schools a few times as a result. She suggests that parents volunteer in the classroom to ease the child’s transition. “Whether it be assisting as a room parent, helping lead the Brownie meeting at night, or being team mom at the soccer games, having a very familiar face every now and then will help ease your child into their new, unfamiliar surroundings,” says O’Malley.
O’Malley also says it’s key to get kids involved too. “By signing them up for sports, extracurricular activities, or even homework club, it’s giving them the opportunity to get to know their peers in a more intimate, smaller group setting, instead of all at once,” suggests O’Malley.
Learn how to help your teen adjust to a new school >>
Candace Lindemann, educational consultant and owner of Naturally Educational, says that parents should learn as much as possible about the new school before school begins. “See if you can go on a tour of the school before your child enrolls. Anything you can do to boost confidence and familiarity and minimize anxiety is a plus,” says Lindemann.
Also, you should reach out to your child’s teacher before school begins to introduce yourself. “It is a lot easier to discuss issues later if you have already opened up communication,” says Lindemann. If you are changing schools midyear, setting up a meeting is a great idea.
Worried about curriculum? “Different school systems cover the same subjects at varying paces,” explains Lindemann. “If the new school is further along in the curriculum than the previous school, you need to make sure your child has a concrete plan, with specific goals, signed off by the teacher, for making up that material.”
Don’t worry. Working with your child’s teacher, he or she will thrive in the new environment. “Most teachers want to see their students succeed but may have little time in the middle of the year to provide extra attention to a new student. In practice, you may have to advocate for your child to ensure a smooth transition,” says Lindemann.
For students who have struggled before, letting them start with a clean slate can be a good idea. “You may be pleasantly surprised to find your child rises to the challenge with this opportunity. If there are difficulties, make sure to communicate these immediately and calmly,” says Lindemann.