The new school year is about to begin, which means getting back to familiar autumn routines. For some, starting school this year means everything new. If you’ve moved to a new town or district, or if your kids are about to transition from one school to the next, they (and you!) may have some anxiety or fear of the unknown.
Before the first day even arrives, parents and children from pre-school through high school can do some things to help prepare to be the new kid.
Talk to your kids about their expectations and the things they’re worried about. Assure them they won’t be the only ones who are nervous on the first day. Come up with a list of things to be excited about and all the good things about the new school. Let your children know you have confidence they can meet any challenges.
Do a dry run or two
No matter the age of your child, it’s a good idea to arrange a visit to the new school. Drive there the same way you will every day or mimic the bus route as close as you can. Make sure your child gets to see inside classrooms – the one he or she will be in, if possible – the cafeteria, library, and playground. If you have a middle- or high schooler, see if you can get a class schedule and follow it from room to room. Find your child’s locker, or at least the area it’s in if grouped by grade. Your child won’t memorize where everything is in one visit, but at least the building will look familiar on the first day. You might even meet some teachers who are there prepping to go back to school! Familiar faces are another plus.
Encourage school involvement
It’s easy to pack a schedule with too many activities and commitments, but one of the best ways for kids to meet people they have something in common with and make friends is to get involved. Encourage your child to try out for the soccer or field hockey team, or sign up for a club activity they’re already interested in. Those things help children feel connected to his peers and also help make in-school friendships easier to nurture.
Get in the communication loop
Find out how your new school communicates with families. Make sure the office has your phone numbers and email address. Some schools send paper notices home in the students’ backpacks once a week. When you know what to look for, you’re less likely to miss important information.
Sleep for success
Summer vacation is spent staying up late and waking up without an alarm. A good night’s sleep can make the move to the new school year easier. Start that bedtime and morning routine at least a week ahead of the first day.
It’s natural to worry about whether your kids will be able to make new friends, and there may be new school rules and procedures to learn. But there is also an excitement that comes with moving to a new school. Enjoy the adventure!