Helping your Child Settle into a New School

  • By: Beth Morrisey
  • Time to read: 3 min.

One of the biggest events in a child’s life is moving schools. For some children, this can often be quite an ordeal, especailly if they are making the Transition From Primary To Secondary school. But there are many things that parents can do to help their child feel more comfortable. This includes bringing your child to visit the new school before they start, asking for your child to have a special partner for the first day or two of school, or encouraging them to join groups or clubs. However, if your child continues to feel left out or unhappy at a new school, alerting the teachers and administration is a good way to gain more support. Here are some of the ways that will make the transition easier for your child.

Visiting the New School

Often a child will fear moving to a new school simply because (s)he does not know what to expect. If a child cannot visualise the school building, know where his or her classroom will be, or even picture where they will be eating lunch, then it is easy for these fears to spiral out of control.

To avoid this unnecessary anxiety, you can ask about new student orientations or the possibility of bringing your child for a private tour around the school. If this is impossible then even driving your child past the school gates might be enough for him or her to get an idea of their new school before they have to turn up for their first day.

Asking for a Special Partner

Another common fear about moving school is that your child will not have any friends and will be left alone while everyone else has partners in class, friends to play with and others to eat lunch with. To combat this fear, ask if your child can have a special partner for the first few days of school. Many schools are more than willing to pair up students so that each new student has a guide, but even if there is no official school policy classroom teachers may be willing to make these connections as well.

Bringing Something Special to School

Very often a child will have an object that helps to sooth them, such as a special toy or blanket. While these items may not be appropriate for the classroom, allowing your child to bring something special with them for the first few days of school may go a long way towards keeping them calm. For example, a lucky hair clip, a special new lunch box or a long loved book bag may be just what your child needs to feel more confident about moving into a new school.

Joining Groups and Clubs

Some children make friends the second they step into a new school, while others may take a little bit longer to come out of their shells. Regardless, most children will benefit from joining groups and clubs at their new schools. These activities will offer children the chance to meet new people (both other students and staff members), learn new things, and form some new attachments to their new school. From sports clubs to the choir to comic book clubs, most schools have something extra that students can join to have a little extra fun.

Hosting Play Dates

Some parents cringe at the term ‘play date’ but organising a time for your child’s new friends to come over and play in your home can be very helpful when they move school. However, you should be sensitive to the fact that not all children will get along and that just because parents are friends does not guarantee that children will be friends. Instead of selecting your child’s friends yourself, ask your child who they would like to invite over and what they would like to do with his or her new friends.

Asking for More Support

Even parents with the best of intentions may not be able to make their child’s transition to a new school totally seamless. If you are worried about how your child is settling in to a new school, don’t hesitate to talk to your child’s teacher and/or school administrators. Once you are all on the same page about your child’s transition, you can work together to give your child whatever they need for the best integration possible.

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