Children find comfort in routine and familiarity,, so a new school can be very stressful and cause anxiety. Add up, starting a new school can affect a child’s academic performance, social development, and mental state!
As parents, it’s our job to help ease the transition as much as possible. There are things we can do before and during our children’s switch to a new school to speed up the process and help them adapt to their new school quickly, feel comfortable, and to get used to their new environment..
Following our own personal experience, here are some tips I have gathered (with respect to lots of articles I have read), to make the transition to a new school less scary for our little ones.
Talk It Out:
Give your child as much time as you can to process the upcoming change. Having an open, direct, and honest talk about what this major life switch move means for them is one of the most important things you can do to help kids overcome their anxiety. Ask your child questions like “What are you most excited about for your first day of school? What are you worried about?” The way you talk about going to a new school will shape how your child views it. (make sure you reinforce positivity as much as possible!)
Go for a sneak peek
Help your children adapt to their new school by visiting it before they start. Walk around the building, meet the principal and their new teachers, scope their classes, playground, cafeteria, gym, etc.... This way, they’ll get familiar about it and when day one does come around, they’ll already have a general idea of what to expect.
Schedule in lots of quality time at home:
Be sure to make family time a priority, continuing both the routines and traditions that help your child feel safe and happy and the conversation about new school concerns and stresses that started before the move. It will be incredibly helpful for your child to know they always have a support system at home.
Don’t forget their previous school:
Just because your children started a new school doesn’t mean they must forget about their previous school. Force keeping in touch with all of their old best friends and teachers, and go back to visit if possible. The memories shouldn’t be minimized..
Don’t Miss Out on sleep:
It’s a known fact that during stressful times, anxiety can make sleep difficult. Sleep deprivation can adversely affect mood and academic performance. Routine is really important during a high stress time of change. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep!
Replicate First Day of School Traditions:
Hold on to as many traditions as you can from your child’s previous school day routine—carrying them over will create a soothing familiarity to the situation.
Continue on with your former traditions like making a special breakfast for the first day, sending a special lunch box, throwing them after school first day celebration, or photo shooting.
Accompany Your Child on their First Day
Go with your child on their first day, as it’s an excellent opportunity to meet their teachers and can add a feeling of security. Let the teacher know of any concerns or issues.
Attend the school orientation together and/or arrange for a tour, engagements with your kid’s new school is a way to tackle this adventure together. Don’t miss any upcoming events, meetings, shows, birthdays, playdates, or any other opportunity to further help your child in their transition.
Be patient with your child’s transition. Your child may show withdrawal symptoms, be quieter, or begin to question everything. They might have more attitude than they normally do. Remember they’re reacting to a new environment, and you shouldn’t change your standards for how they’re expected to behave, but they will need time to adjust.
You can help your kids adapt to a new school but you can’t do it for them. Know that things will eventually get easier though, and one day, this new school will be just as comfortable as the last one.