7 Tips for Transitioning to a New School
As if a new school year is not scary enough, just imagine if you were starting off that new school year at a new school! The start of the new school year at a new building, with new teachers, new friends, and new faces can be a scary thing and the cause for a great deal of stress and anxiety. But luckily, as a parent there is a great deal of things you can do to make this transition an easier one for your child. This is something that we went through this school year. I decided to move my twins from their current school to their little brother’s Charter school. I can tell you that this transition at first seemed to be going the wrong way. However the following tips helped my twins transitioned to a new school. School started today and they had a great first day!
If a new school is where your child is headed this fall, take a look below at 7 tips for a smooth transition. They are not only simple to follow, but you will find suggestions for children with special needs as well who may experience even more stress with the change that comes with a new learning environment. Make going back to school this year a time for fun, not stress. Take a look at how easy it is!
7 Tips for Transitioning to a New School
1. Do a pre-year walk through.
Your child’s school should have no problem allowing a walk through for you and your child prior to the year starting. A few weeks before the first bell rings, visit the school and locate everything from the bathrooms to the cafeteria together. For children with special needs, this is ideal since it will be quiet and calm and give your child a chance to explore without feeling over stimulated.
2. Make a back to school checklist.
A simple checklist can help eliminate any fears and anxiety your child has. Make a checklist with your child so you can be sure they feel prepared. A checklist can include the steps they should take when arriving at school (i.e. put belongings in locker, use restroom, gather materials for first class, head to home room, etc.) For students with special needs, a checklist that consists of picture models or an actually check off sheet can help them feel more focused and confident as well.
3. Meet new friends.
Try to arrange a meeting with other children who attend the school prior to the year beginning. Attend back to school meetings and events in order to meet new families, or ask the school office if they can recommend a sponsor family to help you get acquainted to the new atmosphere. Your child will be off to a great start if they can arrive in a new building and at least have a few familiar faces. This is especially beneficial for students with special needs as having peer support and lots of positive socialization can be key to their success!
4. Meet the teacher.
Call the school office and see if you and your child can meet their teacher ahead of time. This can help qualm some fears and get them excited about the new year. For students with special needs, this is especially helpful because it is a great time to give the teacher some helpful information that can make your child’s year more successful!
5. Do frequent drive bys.
In the weeks leading up to school, try to drive by the school building as much as possible. Point out fun things you see happening and talk about the school in a positive way. This will help the child feel familiar with the building itself and look at it in a positive light.
6. Use positive language.
Your child is likely to feel more comfortable and less anxious if you model relaxed and positive behavior. Use positive words, smile when talking about school, and keep approaching the situation as something that is fun and wonderful. Your enthusiasm will be contagious! If it seems as though that is not the case, be open to your child’s feelings and be willing to discuss any concerns she has, also in a calm and positive manner.
7. Don’t quit once the bell rings.
Just because the first day is over doesn’t mean it is time to let up on your support. Continue positive talk, frequent drive bys and visits to the school, checklists, open talks, and the other tips suggested to see that your child continues their strong start. This is beneficial to all children and all types of learners as they dive into the new year at a new school!
A new year can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be scary or impossible. Give these tips a try and see how you and your family can get through the transition to a new school with flying colors! Good luck!