Being the new kid at school is tough. As a parent, you want to do all you can to help your kids make a smooth transition. There are both social and academic adjustments to consider. These suggestions will help you assist your kids with finding new friends and coping with unfamiliar surroundings.
Steps to Take Before You Move
1. Communicate openly. Leaving their friends behind and starting over at a new school is a big challenge for any young person. Listen to your children. Express empathy for their situation.
2. Involve your kids in decision-making. Moving may be a necessity due to employment or marriage issues. You can still give kids a voice to help them feel more in control. For example, let them decide what color they want to paint their new bedroom.
3. Take a “field trip”. Check out the website of the new school they’ll be attending. Make an appointment to visit the school, talk with school officials, and collect information. Ask questions about the facilities, curriculum, and activity offerings.
4. Inquire about school resources. Some schools may offer a formal orientation program. Or maybe they offer a buddy program for new students. You can also find out what programs they have for special needs or gifted students, if that applies to your children.
5. Talk with your realtor. Your realtor may have information about the different private and public schools in your new town. It’s good to have several options.
6. Teach social skills. Rehearse how to introduce yourself and how to invite others to your house. Take turns role playing with them. Then, have your child test out their new skills after they start their new school.
7. Time it right. If circumstances permit, try to move at the beginning of the school year and before your kids are teens.
Steps to Take After You Move
1. Spend more time together. Let your kids know you care by giving them extra attention.
2. Sign up for activities. Dance classes and science camps are a great place to meet many potential friends who share your child’s interests. Browse online and ask your new neighbors for suggestions. Your kids may want to resume their old pastimes or try new activities.
3. Dress the part. Teens are especially fashion conscious. Drop by the most popular store in town and splurge on the trendiest jeans or backpack.
4. Volunteer at your child’s school. Becoming a school volunteer or joining the PTA is a great way to get involved. You’ll get to know other parents and pick up useful suggestions.
5. Check in with your child’s teacher. Think beyond grades. Ask the teacher about your child’s adjustment, demeanor, and socialization with others. One or two close friends may be better than rock star popularity.
6. Stay in touch with old friends. Encourage your children to maintain contact with their old friends. Communicate by phone and email. Arrange occasional visits if possible.
7. Maintain family rituals. Continue to have family dinners and movie nights. They provide continuity and opportunities for dialogue about the new surroundings.
8. Give it time. Kids may need up to a year to get settled. Let them adjust at their own pace.
9. Be a positive role model. Your children pick up on your emotions. Think positive. Celebrate all the wonderful things you discover as you get reoriented. Find the nearest IMAX Theater and visit the best restaurant in town.
10. Consider counseling. If your child shows signs of distress after moving, such as loss of appetite or trouble sleeping, you might want to consult a therapist. A professional can help them sort out their feelings and assist them with moving ahead.
Many families feel the stress when they have to move. Moving can be especially difficult on children if they have to change schools. With a positive attitude, your kids will be able to adjust. Adapting to a new school will build their self-esteem and widen their view of the world.