Helping Children Get Acquainted with a New School

The start of a new school year can mean mixed emotions for parents and young people alike. Those emotions can quickly turn to uneasiness if the child is transitioning to a new school.

While you can’t join your son or daughter in the classroom, there are steps you can take to set them up for success. Here are some tips to reduce stress with your kids:

  • Have a conversation. Before the beginning of the school year, talk to your child and ask how they’re feeling about their new school. Questions such as “what are you looking forward to this year?” and “is there anything you’re worried about?” are good places to start. If they bring up any concerns, try to ease their worries by taking the time to listen closely and learn more about their issues and why they have these concerns. Based on the nature of the concern, you may need to determine if your involvement is necessary. Most of all, however, remind them that you are always available to talk while giving them your reassurance and support.
  • Meet your child’s new school. Try and arrange a visit to your child’s new school and possibly meet the principal and some administrative staff. Walk around the school with your child so that they can get familiar with what the new school looks and feels like. This will help them to be more comfortable with finding their classroom, restrooms, offices and the like. It will also help your child get better acquainted with the new neighborhood and potential bus or walking routes if this is the case.
  • Help your child to grow their circle of friends. This may be a great opportunity for your family to meet other families in your community with children the same age as your child. There’s a good chance that you will be able to connect with some families with children who will attend the same school in the fall. Reach out to them to see if you can get to know the families better and whether the children can participate in some activities together. Knowing your child already has a friend at school will make the adjustment easier. If there are any extracurricular sports or activities that start before school  begins, it may be beneficial to enroll your children in them if they are interested and willing to participate.
  • Be an active parent. When parents are actively involved in their child’s education, the connection to the school deepens. Volunteer and/or go to the school activities and events to meet the other parents and get to know the environment better.
  • Nurture your child’s independence. Allowing your child to choose their own school supplies can help them get excited for the school year, but don’t forget to get the list of suggested school supplies from the school.
  • Establish a routine. Young people can feel better when they know what to expect. Creating a routine early on will ensure that the transition is as seamless as possible.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep plays a huge role in academic performance and mood. Make sure you’re setting your child up for success by helping them get the recommended amount of sleep. It is important for them to turn-off or shut down all electronic screens including iPads, iPods, games, televisions, computers, etc. to wind down in preparation for going to sleep.
  • Never underestimate the power of a balanced diet. Your child’s energy levels are heavily based on the amount of nutrients in their diet. Ensure that they stay well hydrated and are eating the rainbow and getting enough vitamins and minerals to fuel their bodies.

It’s also important to be patient through the process. Switching to a new school is a major change in your child’s life and having the support of their parents will help them ace it.

Do you have any tips on what helped your child during a school transition? Share them in the comments.

About the author: Dr. T. Jann Caison-Sorey is a senior medical director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

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Photo credit: martin-dm

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