Transitioning from one home to another can be especially difficult for school age children who have legitimate concerns: Will I get along with my new teacher? Will I make friends easily? Who will I talk to at recess? Will I be behind the other kids? Making new friends, meeting new teachers, learning different subjects and finding new classrooms in a campus that is unfamiliar are just some of the obstacles a new student has to overcome. The Austin Metro Guide has published 5 tips on helping children adjust to a new school and how you as a parent can help make this a smooth and painless transition.
1. BE PROACTIVE
Before you move, research opportunities for your child to make neighborhood friends before the first day of school. Sports teams, summer camps and extracurricular clubs are all great places to start. Talking to your Realtor® and asking if he/she can get phone numbers for the local YMCA or Scout troop is a good place to start. And, don’t forget to call the school. Many schools (especially at secondary level) offer a summer transition camp where new students can become familiar with the campus, make new friends and meet teachers before the first day. Seeing that familiar face on the big day can make a huge difference to your child and relieve a lot of anxiety.
2. SPEND TIME AS A FAMILY
Continuing family traditions is especially important during times of change. If your family is used to pizza every Tuesday, make that the official Family Pizza Night. If every Saturday, you walk the dog after eating waffles, don’t stop now! Your child craves consistency and normalcy, especially after a move. Show your family that not everything in their lives has changed. It will make them feel safe and secure.
3. MAKE NEW FRIENDS, BUT KEEP THE OLD
Encourage your child to keep in touch with friends from the old neighborhood and school via phone calls, emails or even personal letters. As long as they are properly supervised, children may use social media and internet chatting to keep in touch; but it is important to have discussions about internet safety and always make sure you have access to their accounts. Above everything, make sure your child is balancing time spent with new friends and time reconnecting with those left behind.
4. JUMP IN WITH BOTH FEET
Once school has started, encourage your child to join a club, organization or sports team. This may not be the time to push them into an activity, so make sure you discuss their level of interest and skills first. Some options: chess club, band, science club, cheerleading, choir to name a few. Many schools offer an after school program like Boys and Girls Club that have structured activities and homework tutoring. Most teachers are trained to spot student’s strengths and would be happy to suggest the best extracurricular match for your child – so don’t be afraid to ask!
5. BE PATIENT
For most children, it takes approximately 6-8 weeks to settle into a new school. If it is possible and your child is comfortable with it, drive him/her to school for at least the first week. Having daily chats with your child about their fears and concerns will show your loving support. Offer advice, but also allow them to make their own decisions when appropriate and most importantly celebrate the small victories. Giving them the time they need, supporting and loving them is what is important. And, before you know it, your children will become comfortable and happy in their new school.
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