How to Help Your Kids Adjust to a New School
Adjusting to a new social environment can be tough on anyone, but it can be especially hard on kids. If you are just settling into a new home in a new school system, your child may be more nervous than ever about starting in a new classroom and making new friends.
The move was for the best for your family, but in moments of seeing your child nervous or upset and the parental guilt that follows, you may be wondering how you can make the transition to a new school easier for everyone.
Here are a few key tips:
- Before the first day, set aside time to visit the school. Ask for a tour and ask any questions you may have about the curriculum, specialized programs, the arts, after care, extra-curricular activities and transportation. Print off a copy of the school map so your child feels more secure and can find his or her way around the building. Find out about sports teams and clubs that may be of interest to your child.
- Acknowledge what they are going through and feeling. Pretending those feelings don’t exist is not a healthy way to move on from them or to help your child feel better about the move. A simple “I know you are missing old friends” can be a conversation starter. Let your child know their feelings are normal and that making new friends can also take time. Don’t sugar coat it! It may take time, but new friends will come along and they will be worth it!
- Be aware that kids in this new area may dress differently, and this is huge to your child in a new social environment. This usually happens if you move to another area of the country. Trends in California are not necessarily the same as New Hampshire. What winter coats will be the must-have style, for example? Ask other parents for the name of a popular local kids’ clothing store. Then go there with your child to check it out and talk to the salesperson.
- Introduce yourself to the neighbors. Sometimes your child’s next best friend can be literally next door. Ask coworkers about who also has children, about available kid activities, and even consider arranging play dates for younger kids.
- Join kid-focused organizations. Look for opportunities for your child to meet kids outside of school—scouting, parks and recreation programs, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, 4-H, Teen Clubs, church groups, sports teams, library programs, after-school programs, or other youth groups are all options.
Finally, keep communication open and ongoing. Your child may simply need a safe way to vent fears and frustrations in order to feel more in control of this new challenge.
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