Transitions can be tough—for both parents and kids. Whether your child is making that huge first step into kindergarten, crossing the bridge to middle school or high school, or moving to a new school, there are ways to ease the anxiety inherent in change and set the stage for a great start.
1. Break It Down
It’s easy for kids, and adults alike, to feel overwhelmed during changes. To help your child feel safe and like she has some semblance of control over her changing world, make it manageable and foreseeable. Work together to write out a calendar and a to-do list in preparation of the big event. Mark off items and celebrate your accomplishments together.
2. Get To Know The Neighborhood
If you’re moving to a new neighborhood, or if your child will be attending a school outside of your local community, spend some time in the vicinity. Visit the library, have lunch near the new campus, make the drive to school and home several times. Feeling that the new town or the new part of town is familiar and comfortable will make the first day less scary and promote a feeling of belonging in the bigger world in which the school is located.
3. Check The Calendar
Most schools have at least abbreviated summer hours and many hold events or camps during the Summer Break. Check your new school’s website for a calendar of events. If there are concerts being held or special interest camps that are open to the community, sign up. Your child will get a feel for the campus and start to learn her way around. You will inevitably meet at least some faculty members, other parents, and students. The familiarity of the places and faces will help set your child’s mind at ease and provide an anchor on that first day.
4. Get Involved
Check the school’s website to find out how to get involved in the Parent Service Organization. These groups frequently hold summer social events to help new families meet and mingle with established members of the learning community. Whether it’s a day at the water park or the new student orientation, these events will likely be listed on the PSO’s website or the school’s social media pages. Attend as many of these special events as possible, not only to meet new friends, but so that your child associates the new school with the joy and camaraderie that accompany learning.
5. Master The Materials
Consider what technology or devices may be unfamiliar to your kids upon arrival at their new school or building. While young people are natives of the digit age, and have no problem mastering new technology, combination locks challenge middle school students every year. Many middle grades require specific calculators that have novel functions as students progress through the curriculum. Purchase these items early to allow your child to become comfortable using them, and eliminate one unnecessary stressor.
6. Explore The Curriculum
Your child may be a math whiz or an avid reader; however, each school has its own curriculum and math and reading programs that are unfamiliar can shake kids’ confidence. For elementary students, inquire about the particular programs used for core subjects. For all students, ask about book lists and familiarize both yourself and your kids with these before the homework starts to pile up.
7. Accentuate The Positive
Our kids pick up on our attitudes and emotions. Convey excitement about the opportunities that lie ahead for your child. Give him ownership of his new school. Help him to feel comfortable in his new surroundings with new peers and adults. Make positive comments about the staff at the school, about the buildings and the classrooms, and about the vast potential for learning and exploration. Send your child in armed with a sense of wonder and an excitement about learning, and expect the very best of him and his new school.