Tips to Help Your Child Settle in at a New School
Children often find it tough to settle in at a new educational facility, whether they’ve recently changed schools or have gone off to high school for the first time. They not only have to create new friendships, but also get used to new teachers, potentially different rules, and often new ways of getting to and from the school’s location.
As parents, it’s easy to feel a bit lost about what can be done to help kids cope well with the change, but remember there are ways that you can help them to ease into the transition. From listening to and validating their feelings, and answering questions, to encouraging them to join social activities or learn how to handle difficult situations, there are plenty of strategies you can follow to support your children when they need it most.
Whether your child has started at a new school just down the road from your house, or has headed off to a specialized boarding school, you can make it easier for them to love their next school years. Read on for some tips you can follow today to do just that.
Communicate, Listen, Reassure, and Validate
One of the first things you can do to help your child settle in at a new school is be there for them emotionally. For starters, be open to all of their questions, and give them well thought-out responses as much as possible.
Regular conversations can help them feel better about both practical and psychological concerns. For example, they may be worried about when or where playtimes are, or which bus service they need to catch each day. Alternatively, they might have anxiety over what their new teachers will be like, or whether the kids at their new school will be friendly.
No matter what your child’s worries may be, you will help them if you can be empathetic; answer their questions; listen to and validate their concerns so that they feel heard; and reassure them that they have the necessary skills to be able to cope with the change.
Create Daily Routines
When kids are facing a new situation, they can feel out of control as a result of the changes. You can help them with this by providing as much predictability as possible in their life — something that can often come from creating a structured daily routine.
It’s a good idea to get your children used to a regular bedtime for at least a few days, if not weeks, before they start at the new school. Morning routines are also important, as this helps them to start the day more calmly.
The importance of a structured routine cannot be overstated. Children and teens, especially those with behavioral problems or academic issues, need to know what to expect each day in order to focus and succeed. If you’re looking into alternative schools because your child needs extra help, schools with specific daily schedules, like Diamond Ranch boarding school in Utah, provide the best foundation for learning, growth, and real-life success.
Teach Children Ways to Handle Difficult Situations
Another way to help children feel more in control is to teach them ways to handle themselves if they’re faced with a difficult situation at school. Listen to their most commonly-spoken concerns about the new institution, and then come up with strategies for how they might cope or act if those worries are realized.
For example, if they’re anxious about not having anyone to sit with or play with at lunch, you could brainstorm solutions together. You might offer suggestions such as joining a sporting activity that others are enjoying, or keeping an eye out for another student who may be spending their lunch break alone.
You might also point out to your child that teachers and other faculty staff will be available should they need help; and remind them that other children will also be dealing with the same kinds of potential problems involved with starting at a new school.
Encourage Kids to Join Social Activities
While it is a good idea to encourage your children to stay in touch with their old school friends because this helps with the transition, it also pays for them to start meeting new people when possible too. This is where joining social activities at or through their new school can really help.
If your child has a particular hobby or interest, such as sport, crafts, drama, music, engineering, or chess, see if the school has a club relevant to the topic that they can join. Alternatively, there may also be extracurricular activities run in the area that are not done through the school but that many classmates attend.
Give Them Time
The last thing to keep in mind is that transitions take time, and children should never feel rushed to settle in according to a parent’s agenda. Don’t expect your child to slot into a new environment instantly or feel comfortable right away. Instead, help them to talk to and meet a wide variety of people so as to expand their world, and show them that they don’t have to cling to the first new friendships they make if these connections don’t turn out the way they hoped.