You’ve just finished unpacking the U-Haul truck and the boxes are scattered around your new home. While your child may seem content to pick out his room and hang posters on the walls, he may also be having some jitters about starting at a new school. Nervousness is completely normal, but there are plenty of ways you can help make your child’s transition to this new life as seamless as possible.
Before School Starts
- Help your child meet other students before the first day. If you know any other parents in the area, set up a play date. If you moved during the summer, enroll your child in a local summer camp. Knowing at least one person ahead of time can really help ease nervousness.
- Get a list of classmates names ahead of time if your child is nervous about meeting new people. Give him a chance to learn the names so he feels more prepared.
- Go for a trial run — walk the route to school with your child or take him to the bus stop and familiarize him with the surroundings. You might even be able to arrange for a tour of the school so he can find his locker, the cafeteria, bathrooms, and everything else.
- Get a list of offered classes and extracurricular activities. Read over them with your child and help him get excited about the new opportunities this school may offer.
Once School is in Session
- Join the PTA to show your child you’re eager to embrace the new school. If your child is younger, you may be able to volunteer to help out in the classroom. And don’t forget to donate your world-famous brownies to the school bake sale.
- Be patient with your child during the first few weeks. It’s going to take time to adjust, and your child may even act out or throw tantrums. Go easy on him and remember this can be a sensitive time.
- Throw a party or attend fun school activities with your child to give him a chance to socialize outside of the classroom. One-on-one time is always easier than meeting whole new groups of children.
- Do as the British do: “keep calm and carry on.” It may be difficult if you’re busy with a new job, unpacking, and getting settled, but establishing a routine at home and building a calm, welcoming environment for your child to come home to can be a big help when so much is up in the air.
If your child is extremely upset about the idea of a new school, or if he is still having trouble adjusting after two or three months, consider enlisting some help. A nurturing teacher or school counselor may be enough to help your child finally get settled. After six months, if there are still major issues, anxiety, or behavioral problems, consider a child psychologist — there may be other issues at play that you are unaware of. In most cases, however, adjusting to a new school just takes a little time and will probably end up being an exciting new adventure for your child.
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