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Supporting A Child Transitioning To A New School

Supporting a Child Transitioning to a New School

Often, children will have to move schools as the family moves to a new location or when the previous school is not a good fit. Changing schools can be an arduous task, especially when the child has advanced quite far into their studies, and then having to uproot them from the friendships and routines they have grown accustomed to and requiring them to start afresh in a new school. In some cases, the child joins a school with a different culture and different compositions of students, which requires an adjustment period before acclimatizing to the new norm. As a parent, you are responsible for assisting your child with adjusting to the new school and environment by providing support and assistance to make the transition process less hectic.

First, you need to establish open lines of communication between yourself and the child, encouraging them to share their experiences and opinions regarding their new school. Usually, the child will show discontentment with their new environment, especially if they are older and have established a strong social system in their previous school. Validate their reactions, and understand why they are upset and sad, but firmly explain why the new school is necessary, forming an opportunity for a more appealing life. If the child is having problems fitting in with the new school environment, you can offer to accompany them to school and meet some key staff members. A meeting with the teachers, especially, can help elaborate any specific needs or concerns regarding your child, which can help them become better understood and get appropriate support from the staff and students. The teachers have direct contact with your child all day during the school season, and having a greater understanding of your child and any specific needs they may have can allow them to treat each child appropriately to offer the best results uniquely.

The child also needs to establish a social system within the school, which involves making new friends. However, some children have anxiety and are shy and thus cannot easily approach other students and pursue friendships. Having a student in school with whom the child is already acquainted can make it easier for your child to establish a network in school, slowly gathering new friends and fitting in with their peers. You can assist your child in establishing acquaintance with neighbours whose children also attend school, and these meeting opportunities can help your child gather new friends more seamlessly. Another way to establish connections in school is through joining clubs and participating in extracurricular activities. Having your child participate in extracurricular activities that interest them can help them have an environment where they are less anxious to be around new faces, and through their participation, they can gather responses from other students and staff, slowly helping them fit in at school. During these extracurricular activities, your child will meet other students with shared interests, which can become a catalyst for developing long-term friendships.

It would be best to encourage your child to establish a routine with which they can feel secure and grounded amidst the changes in their life. Maintaining a routine at home, especially one that is long-standing, can help create a sense of normalcy in your child's life, where they can feel that not everything has changed despite moving to a new school. During all the chaos during the transition, it is paramount that you, as a parent, remain a positive influence on the child, staying optimistic for the future. Children tend to mirror the mood expressed at home, and when you establish a positive environment at home regarding the move and the future, the child is more likely to echo it and have a positive outlook on their move to a new school. Most important, however, is to maintain an open communication channel with your child, where you enquire how each day at school turns out and listen to any information regarding their new school and experiences openly. After that, you can offer any advice and guidance as required, helping the child handle the transition into their new school and environment.