Starting a new school year can be one of the hardest times in a child’s life. To an adult it doesn’t seem like much in the grand scheme of things but we’ve gotten older and forgotten how much fear is involved. It’s a big step going into a new school where you don’t necessarily know anyone. There are two main times when this happens to a child. The first is when then move up in grade and the new grades are housed in a different school and the second is when the family or the child moves to a completely new area and the child is starting a brand new school for the first time. Both times are stressful for the child but there are things that we as parents can do to help them get through it.
The first situation is a little bit easier to deal with because there’s a possibility that some of your child’s friends might be at the new school with them. This help make the transition into the new school a little bit easier. Sometimes they’ll even be in the same class which helps even more. If there’s more than one school for them to go to like there are in bigger areas most of the time you’ll be notified during the summer which school and class your child will be attending which gives you time to help your child adjust. Encourage them to talk to their friends and see which school they’ll be going to and if they have any classes together. This gives them a chance to start talking about any fears and gives you a chance to alleviate them. Next learn a little bit about the school and point things out to them so that they begin to see it as an adventure rather than something scary. Finally, if there’s a before school meeting with the teacher be sure to take your child. This gives them a chance to meet the person that will be teaching them for the following year and can make them feel a bit calmer about the situation.
The second instance is a little harder for a child to deal with. Not only are they going to a new school but they are in a new area and may be apprehensive about being able to find their way around. The first thing that you can do is decide how they’ll be getting to school each day. If they’ll be walking to school find out where it is and have your child help you plan a route to walk. After it’s planned have them walk it a couple of times for practice so that they feel confident about how to get there. Another way that you can help is by encouraging your child to get to know the neighborhood kids. There’s a good chance that some if not all of them will be going to the same school and meeting them will mean that your child won’t start school surrounded by strangers as there will be some familiar faces. Find out what kind of activities are available at the new school and talk about them together so that they can have something to lok forward to.
Most of all just let them know that your always there to listen to their fears and concerns. No matter which of the two situations it is the simple act of listening can have a great impact on your child.