I’ve had to help my child adjust to a new school countless times. I’m a mom of two little boys ages 5 and 7. When our 7 year old was starting school we went through a heck of a time getting him into the right fit.
My 7-year-old attended four schools within a 3-year time period.
In 2015 he started out in what’s called Junior Kindergarten. He did this through a private school that we thought he’d attend all of his school years. Well it turns out, it wasn’t quite the school for us for a variety of reasons. When the school year ended we decided for his first year of actual Kindergarten he’d attend our local public school.
When the 2016 school year began we started him at our local public school. It was a disaster! He was only there for four weeks. While we lived in a nice neighborhood, the school was very rough. I personally witnessed bullying of epic proportions on a few occassions, right in front of teachers, while walking him in to school. I witnessed teachers themselves being rude to the kids. That was enough for this mama bear to decide he would attend a different school.
We pulled him out and I home schooled him while we house hunted for a place in one of the best school districts in our area. With some luck we moved within just a few months. However, the school actually in his district was full so he had to attend an alternate school for the remainder of the year.
Finally at the start of 2017 school year he was able to attend the school we now consider his permanent grade school. He loves it and we are so happy for him.
You can make the transition to a new school easy & fun
Realize Kids are Resilient
When we were going through all of those changes, I have to admit I was a little freaked out. I was nervous every time he changed schools. I thought “I am screwing this kid up.” But you know what, I was wrong! He is a resilient kid. And the more research I did on kids switching schools and helping your child adjust to a new school, I realized that all kids are resilient.
Be the Leader
Honestly a lot of your kids reaction to the new school will come directly from you if your kid is less than 13-years-old, in most cases. If you let it show that you are nervous for them, then they will be nervous. When you cry on the first day, he will cry on the first day. You get the idea. On the other hand, IF you are positive about the new school, he will be positive about the new school. When you show excitement and enthusiasm, he will show excitement and enthusiasm.
Pay Attention to Your Child’s Fears
It can be so easy to dismiss their fears as we busily go through our lives and rush to move on to the next thing. But dismissing their fears can lead to greater fear and anxiety. They may be genuinely scared of starting at a new school. Children may be worried about new bullies, difficult classes, and fitting in at their new school. They may also be afraid of making new friends or being alone. So it’s important to pay attention to your children’s fears and address them. Transitioning to a new school is a big step for children. They spend their entire day at school. It’s important it be a place of safety both real and imagined.
Desensitize Your Child to the New School Surroundings
Therapists recommend that desensitization may help your children with the transition to a new school.
Desensitization is the process of repeated exposure to a negative item, idea, or other process that results in reduced emotional responses. This means that being exposed to something negative multiple times can help you deal with it. Children who are having a hard time adjusting to the thought of starting a new school may benefit from desensitization.
The easiest way to handle this is to visit the school multiple times before the new school year starts.
You can visit the children’s new classrooms, playground, and cafeteria. You can try to set up meetings with their new teachers.
Show Your Child the New Routine
Children who love routines need to see the new version that will affect them. The new school routine can include the bus route or your driving route. It can also include their routine at home before school. You may want to consider eating breakfast, packing their lunch, and practicing for school.
Involve Them in the Process
It’s important for children to feel their opinion matters. This will help them transition to the new school with less fear. Your children can help you pick out their school supplies and clothes for the new year. They can also help you think of new breakfast ideas or favorite foods they want for lunch or after-school snacks.
Look for Positives in the New School
Does the new school have a bigger playground than their old one? Does it have a nicer lunch menu with more options? Do they get a longer recess?
By looking for the positive aspects of the new school, you can show your child that moving to a new school may actually be fun for them. These positive aspects give them something to look forward to on the first day of school.
Conduct research on the new school and amaze your children with fun, new facts. You may also want to get a list of after-school activities and go through it with your children.
Remind Your Child He Can Overcome Challenges
Your child will feel more confident if he can remember the other transitions he’s already conquered. For example, did your children move to a different neighborhood several years ago? Did your children successfully join a new program at the local library? Maybe he took dance lessons, joined a sports league, or trained in a martial arts class. These are all examples of starting something new that he lived through!
A new school can be a scary place for children, but you can help. You can be instrumental in giving your child a great start as he transitions to his new school.