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Helping your child settle into a new school

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The move to a new school is daunting for your child. They will need to make new friends, meet new teachers, and work out how the systems work in their new environment. Teenagers can find this transition particularly difficult.  If you have simultaneously moved home too, your children will be feeling vulnerable and unsure about their home environment too. There are steps you can take to help your child adjust to their new school, and to make them feel settled and secure more quickly.

Visit the School in advance

If timing permits, it is a good idea to take your child on a tour of the school before they start there. This gives you and your child an opportunity to get familiar with the place a little, and to ask questions or express any concerns ahead of time. Teens may find trailing around after Mum and Dad excruciatingly embarrassing, so talk to them first and see what would make them feel most comfortable. Some schools will allow a teen to do a “taster” day where they join their future classmates in lessons.

Have the route sorted

new schoolIf your child is old enough to go to and from school alone it is important to ensure that they are familiar with the route and any potential danger points, and also how long the journey takes. For those travelling by bus, familiarity with the timetables and bus stops is essential. It can be wise to do a practice run together. In any event, you must be certain that your child knows their new address, and how to find their house. Memorising your ‘phone numbers will also help in case they get lost. Some schools run car pools, where parents take several youngsters in one car. Check with teaching staff to see if there is such a scheme in your area.

Get to know your neighbours

Other children living in your immediate neighbourhood who attend the same school can be a useful way “in” for your child. Make it your business to find out who the other families are in your area, and work at finding ways to network with them. If you have moved in the holidays it can help your child to have a friendly face to look out for, or even go to school with, on their first day.

First Day Nerves

On the first day it is a good idea to accompany your child to school – for teens, as before, talk about this option before making a decision. Many schools run a “buddy” system, where another child is asked to befriend the newcomer to help them settle in. This works especially well with younger children. When packing your child’s first-day lunchbox, fill it with their favourite foods to boost their mood and remind them that they are not alone. A discreet note can also help make them feel more secure.

Settling In

During the initial weeks and months that your child is in a new school it is vital to talk to them about their experience. Do this in a relaxed way, as putting pressure on your child is sure to make them clam-up. Be vigilant and aware of any changes in behaviour or mood that may indicate your child is not adjusting well to their new environment, and accept that in the early days their academic grades my change for a time. It is also important to encourage your child to socialise both in and out of school. Extra-curricular activities are a great way to meet new friends, and play-dates and sleepovers can help to cement new relationships.

Above all, remember that it will take time for your child to adjust.  Even as adults a significant move is difficult to navigate, so give your young ones every opportunity to express their feelings, and help them to adjust in whatever way they need to.

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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