Back to School
Starting a new school can be stressful
Moving to a new town is without a doubt stressful, especially for children. Even if your child is in high school, the idea of starting over – making new friends and entering a whole new social setting – can be frightening. What if the jeans that were all the rage in her old school are yesterday's news in the new one? What if his new teacher is more stern than his old favorite? While you can't help your child prepare for every bump in the road, there are plenty of steps you can take to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Before the Move
The first thing to do is contact your child's new school as soon as you know you're moving date. Make sure transcripts and other records from your child's current school are transferred early. The more the new school knows about your child, the better it will be able to prepare for his or her arrival. For example, if you're moving after the start of the school year, it can be frustrating for students as well as school officials if your child is placed in a class that is too advanced, too easy or in a subject she has already taken.
Make an appointment to speak with a school guidance counselor to discuss your child's academic history and to learn more about the school's community, like how to get involved with the PTA and how to sign your child up for extracurricular activities.
Once the school gives you your child's schedule, call your child's new teachers – they will be happy to talk with you and their new pupil.
Such conversations are especially crucial if you have signed your child up for a class that involves special equipment or extra materials, such as music or a honors course. An audition or entrance exam may be required.
After the Move
If your move is too far to allow for trips beforehand, your child's new school will probably allow you and your child to visit before he starts attending classes.
Ask a guidance counselor or another official to give both of you a tour of the school.
Leading up to the big start, be positive about this new experience. Emphasize the perks of the school, from the chance to make new friends to the bigger basketball court. You also should remind your child of all his qualities, like a great sense of humor or a lovely smile, to build confidence.
The First Day
On the first day, ask your child's teachers to pair her with a "buddy." The student doesn't feel isolated or left behind, and the buddy can answer many of the questions the new kid may have and help explain classroom procedures.
Most important, when you pick up your child from school, be sure to ask how the day went.
The next day, ask again. After a week, call or e-mail your child's teachers to discuss the transition from their point of view – they will be happy to respond.