At this time of year it is very common for families with school age children to be moving house.
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If a change of school is on the cards, many parents prefer it to coincide with the beginning of the school year.
Changing schools at any age can be a daunting prospect – both for the child and their parents.
For the child, they are faced with saying goodbye to old friends and a familiar social circle and then showing up at a new school where they don’t know a soul.
For the parents, they often are also having to establish themselves in a new community and additionally feel apprehensive for their children facing what can be a challenging situation.
The good news is that there are some easy things you can do to help ease any anxiety about starting a new school as well as settling into a new community.
Here are some tips:
1) Keep an open line of communication
This is probably the most important thing you can do. Even if your child is excited about changing schools there is still bound to be a lot of apprehension mixed in with the excitement.
Talk openly to your child about the upcoming change of school and ask them about any positive or negative feelings they may be having.
Keep them informed about what is happening and try to involve them in the decision making process where possible.
2) Be enthusiastic
Although there are a lot of negative emotions associated with starting a new school, it will help your child enormously if you try and focus on some of the positives.
Many children will be excited about the prospect of a fresh start and a chance to make new friends.
Point out all the good things that may be coming about as a result of changing schools. For instance, maybe the new school has excellent sport facilities if you have a sports-mad child, or maybe they can offer a specialised reading program if your child is an avid reader.
3) Saying goodbye is important
For most kids, saying goodbye to old friends is the hardest part about changing schools. This is especially true for long-distance or interstate moves where they will no longer see their friends on a regular basis. Discuss ways that your child can keep in touch with their friends. Luckily with modern technology it’s easier than ever to do so. Great ways to maintain connections are skype, facetime, email, messenger and for novelty value you could always suggest snail mail! Another good idea is throwing a going away party for your child and their friends, this is something for them to look forward to and a nice way to celebrate their friendships.
4) Research the new school
Where possible, make a point of visiting your child’s new school together to have a look around so your child can familiarise themselves with their surroundings before their first day.
It’s a great idea to meet new teachers and the principal too. Many schools new have websites which your child may find useful to browse as well.
Research sports teams and extracurricular activities available through the school as they may be a valuable way to help your child integrate into their new environment. For children, establishing their place in a social circle takes a lot of work and the thought of starting again from scratch is terrifying. They are bound to be worried about not making friends and feeling lonely at their new school.
Ask the school if there is a ‘buddy’ system available so your child has someone to help them negotiate their initial days at the new school.
5) Setting in
Once your child has started at their new school, try to keep an open dialogue on how they are doing. Let them know that it may take some time to settle into their new school and make good friends and that it’s okay to be feeling a little lonely in the beginning.
Encourage them to take up activities that they like doing as a way of meeting like-minded kids.
Reminding your child to keep up contact with their old friends is important, especially as they will provide a source of support and familiarity for your child at this time.
The good news is, it’s a well known fact that kids are extremely adaptable and resilient so in many cases, it’s harder on the parents watching from the sidelines than it is for their child.
A good way to feel involved and support your child is to become involved with the school – it’s also a great way to meet other parents. There are plenty of opportunities when schools require parental volunteers if that is something you are able to do or helping out at weekend school fundraisers is also a great way to bond with other parents and kids.
Do you have any other tips to add to the list? Please SHARE in the comments below.
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