Going to a new school can be both exciting and worrying for a parent. From the child’s perspective, it is also a mixed bag of emotions – a new place, a new environment, new people to interact with. Preparing your child for a new school can be quite a task for a parent.
The most common reasons when a child gets admitted to a new school are:
- Parents are transferred to a new location
- The current school does not provide higher education options
- The current school does not have a conducive environment for learning
- The child faces discrimination or bullying etc.
There can be other specific reasons as well which can be case-specific. Changing schools is a big decision for a parent, as well as for the child. Its implications can be far-reaching and it definitely affects a child mentally- either in a positive or a negative way.
Adjusting to a new academic environment can be either challenging or progressive depending on the ambiance, curriculum, and staff of the new school. Nevertheless, as parents, we can always prepare our children to adjust and adapt to the new environment beforehand so that it might ease the stress for them, especially if the child has special needs.
Let us take a look at some simple steps to help our child get adjusted to a new school.
Before school starts
Build the excitement: Talk to your child about the new school- why he/she is joining it, how is it different from the previous one, what he/she can expect more, why they chose this school over others, etc.
Attend the orientation: This can be a good opportunity to know more about the school and teachers. Also, it helps your child to get acclimatized to the new environment and make some friends beforehand. Try to take a tour of the school and the classroom if possible.
Get into the schedule: Find out the school schedule/rules/guidelines and prepare your child with the same. Tell them about good conduct, the school values, and new things that they need to learn. If you have the books for the new grade, let them browse through them. Practice the schedule beforehand and get your child into the routine.
Interact with the teachers: Talk to the teachers and tell them about any special needs or instructions for your child. Tell them if they need to take care of something. You can also talk to some of the parents to know more about the student dynamics and teacher interactions. You can prepare your child accordingly.
Build necessary skills: Inculcate self-care skills, organizational skills, and other soft skills that will help your child get adjusted easily to the new environment. We often don’t realize or ignore but these are more important than academic skills which they will anyways learn at school.
On the first day of school: Get them ready on time, give them instructions on whom they can contact if there is anything urgent, pack them a healthy lunch, and send them off with a lovely smile. Don’t scare them or give a big list of do’s and don’ts, rather let them explore and figure out things.
After they come back, ask them how was their day, how was the new school different from the previous one, if they faced any challenges, and what all did they like.
During the first few weeks, keep communicating with them about the school, but not probing them constantly. Keep a watch on their emotional and behavioral changes to see if there might be any issues. Keep in touch with the teachers and coordinators through diary notes etc. to check on the progress of your child.
A new place might always bring apprehensions for a parent, but do not overwhelm your child with your emotions as it might stress them as well. Talk to them and if you notice any negative changes, try to find out the root cause and resolve the problem along with the school authorities, whenever required.