Moving to a new place is challenging for the entire family, and starting school after a move can be an even more challenging transition and adjustment for kids. From kindergarten to high school, starting a new school is full of first-day jitters and other complicated feelings. There are things you can do to help your child’s transition be as smooth as possible. Here are some tips for families to help prepare for a new school after a move.
Talk about it
Open conversations about their new school can help kids face their anxiety before it becomes overwhelming. While it’s important to be positive and full of excitement, your kids may feel scared, sad, or even mad about starting a new school. Allowing them to share their feelings is essential to the process and can help them feel better about the new school year. As they express their concerns, it will help you provide the appropriate support and reassurance they need.
Include your kids in decision making
Allowing your kids to have some control over decisions by giving them choices can help them feel more grounded and comfortable. For example, allowing the kids to choose what type of backpack to purchase or allowing older kids to have a say in their bedtimes. Simple choices will help your kids feel valued and important as they enter their new school environment.
Attend back-to-school events
Back-to-School events are an excellent way for you and your kids to connect with teachers, students, and parents in your school community. New student events or open houses can help your children become familiar with their school environment before their first day. Visiting their classrooms, meeting teachers, and having a chance to make a new friend before school starts will help you and your kids feel more secure and connected.
Find the best routes
Explore the best routes to and from school before the first day. If you are driving, show them the school’s drop-off and pick-up locations. If they are walking or riding their bikes, walk the route with them or ride along a few times to make sure they feel confident about getting to and from school. Proactively practicing the routes between school and home will help ease any anxiety they may have about getting to school on time.
Establish a routine
As summer winds down and school approaches, establishing a plan for school days and nights is helpful for everyone. Bedtime and morning routines can help your kids feel secure by helping them know what to expect. Try to keep the patterns consistent with what you had in place in previous school years. Maintaining consistent routines can help lower anxiety and help kids feel secure.
Schedule a playdate or gathering with new friends
School friend groups are often well-established, especially with older students. Making new friends is one of the hardest parts of starting a new school after a move. Try to schedule a casual playdate or gathering before school starts. While you can’t make friends for your kids, taking a step to get people together is one way to help them make some connections before the first day of school.
Get involved at the school
If school involvement was not part of your life before your move, it might be a great way to help you and your children feel connected to your new community. Parental involvement through orientation meetings, joining the Parent Teacher Organization, or volunteering for other committees at the school are ways to meet new families and make new friends.
School supplies and lunch plan
Stock up on school supplies and make a plan for lunches. Supplies and lunch plans are another part of school preparation where your kids can make choices. Find the school supply list for your child’s new school and take them with you to pick out everything they need. Being prepared with all their supplies will help them feel confident on their first school day.
Making a plan for lunch is another crucial part of preparing for school. Will your children buy or bring their lunch? Make sure they have what they need for lunch will ease their anxiety and hunger on the first day of school.
Be early for drop off and pick up
Ensuring your kids will be early for drop off and pick up is crucial for helping them feel confident, especially on the first day. You may want to walk in if you have younger children, while older students may want to be dropped off a little farther away. No matter what, being on time is critical. They will want to see you right after school to avoid the stress of waiting in the crowd.
Sign up for extracurricular activities
Participating in shared interests is one of the best ways to form new friendships. Learn about extracurricular activities offered through the school or nearby. Ask your child what they want to do. They may want to stick with something they already know or try something new.
Starting the new school year in an unfamiliar place is difficult. You can help make the transition smoother by offering social and educational support and taking steps to prepare your kids to start school with confidence.