It is never easy transitioning from one environment to another, but for elementary school-aged children, the transition from one school to a new one can be especially trying. The idea of having new teachers, classrooms and friends can be daunting to even the most outgoing of children, and it will take purposeful planning on the parents’ behalf to ensure that their children know it is acceptable to be nervous about heading to a new learning environment.
It is not uncommon for students to feel out of place for the first month to month and a half of beginning in new schools, especially if they are in a new home environment as well. Children who experience the stress of moving to new schools may show their discomfort by acting out, withdrawing from social activities or even changing their diet and sleeping patterns.
With these new transitions, parents should keep in mind the following tips to help their children get used to their new schools, their new friends and the new responsibilities that come with them:
Tips for Transitioning Easily into a New School
1. Allow your children (and yourself) to experience the stress. This particular step seems counterintuitive, but acknowledging the stress that both you as a parent and your children are experiencing makes it that much easier to move beyond it. This is a great opportunity for you to sit and talk with your child about what is bothering them, what their fears are and what can be done to help them feel better about the new surroundings and circumstances that they are finding themselves in.
2. Cut your children some slack. Children in new educational settings are already overwhelmed with new schedules and teachers, so they do not need extra pressure to perform at home. Lessen your children’s load when it comes to extracurricular practices, church functions and other activities that will add unnecessary stress. Slowly introduce your children to outside activities, acclimating them to their normal level of activity.
3. Talk to teachers about your concerns. No one will understand how much stress you and your child are going through more than your child’s teacher. Discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher, and ask for feedback. You are likely to discover that your teacher has resources to help you help your child.
4. Talk to fellow parents. By joining your local Parent Teacher Association or group, you can talk to other parents who may be in the same boat as you are. Having people who understand exactly what you are going through can free you to work with your child to find other children who might be going through the same thing that they are.
5. Let your children have playtime with you.Weekends are easily filled with commitments that cannot be fulfilled midweek, but carve out some time on the weekend to show your child that you are willing to set time apart for them. Go to the playground at the park, go to a museum or just stay at home and play in the backyard. Regardless of what you decide to do, your children will appreciate the fact that you want to spend time with them.
6. Keep open communication with your children. The best way to know when your child is doing well is by talking to them. If you keep tabs on what your children are doing, you will know if they are struggling or doing well in their transition. This requires constant communication with your child about how they are feeling. Before you know it, you and your children will be happily settled in your new environments.