At some point in every child’s scholastic career, they will have to start at a new school. Sometimes it is a completely new beginning in an unfamiliar city because the family had to move, or it’s with the same group of friends but it’s time to transition from elementary school to middle school. It can be a stressful time for kids if they don’t know what to expect, but there are some things that parents can do to help with a successful transition.
1) If at all possible, visit the school a few weeks prior to the first day. Walk around the campus, play on the playground, find the bathrooms, cafeteria and where the main office is. Roam around until your child starts to feel comfortable with the setting. If you can’t actually visit the school in advance, go online to view pictures and information written about the school.
2) Talk about the experience. Discuss the pros and cons of what you saw. Try to find a positive spin for any issues that may have arisen during the tour. Work out solutions to any anxieties that came up. For example, if the new student is concerned about how he will get from a classroom on one side of the campus to the other in a short amount of time, explain that it’s possible because hundreds of kids are successfully doing it everyday. Maybe even go back and time it to show him it can be done.
3) Meet with a teacher or guidance counselor to get your child familiarized with whom they will be spending the next year with.
4) Start a routine a few weeks before school starts and stick with it. Figure out how long you will need to get to school, and get your child to their classroom on time. Then work backwards to find a good wake-up time. This will also help you judge a good bedtime since getting enough sleep is key and will help your child to get acclimated to the new school schedule he will be facing. This will help so the first week of school isn’t both an unfamiliar experience and a complete shock to the system as well.
5) Get involved with the school at a volunteer level. This will enable you to get a first hand look at how the principal runs things and, at the elementary level, you will get to know your teacher and the other kids in your child’s class. It will give you the opportunity to see who you would like your child to get to know and then you can schedule play dates at your home to further help your child feel comfortable at school.
6) Prior to this major transition in your child’s life, it can be beneficial for moms and dad’s to utilize an online parenting class. All parents can use an update on the latest successful parenting techniques. This is a perfect time to educate yourself and to immediately implement the new information to help your child off to the best start possible.