Moving to a new town can be tough on kids. Leaving behind friends and familiar places is hard enough; add in the anxiety of starting at a new school and it’s a lot for any child to handle. But while change is challenging, it can also be positive. Here are some tips for helping your children blossom at their new school.
- Prepare your children. Make them part of the process of learning about their new school. Go to orientation together or arrange for a tour. Older children, especially, will appreciate the opportunity to get the lay of the land and figure out where their classes are before the first day. Show them where the bathrooms, gymnasium, auditorium and nurse’s office are. If possible, have them introduced to their teachers. They will feel much more confident when they start if they are not feeling lost.
- Meet friends before school starts. Tweens and teens may have the opportunity to try out for and/or join sports teams or band during the summer. This is a fantastic way for them to meet others with common interests. For younger children, sign them up for day camps either at the school they will be attending (if offered) or at local rec centers. If your community has a pool or play area, you will likely meet people there that will be attending the same schools. Joining a community league sports team is also a great way to meet other kids that you’ll likely see at school as well.
- Replicate or create first day of school traditions. If there are things you have always done to celebrate the first day of school, stick with them. That will give your kids a sense of familiarity and make the change of a new school less dramatic. If you haven’t established any traditions for back to school, now is a good time to start. Whether you fix a special breakfast, or take them for a treat at the end of the day, that little extra bit of TLC is sure to make them feel better. 10 Fun Back-to-School Traditions
- Practice driving to school. This might sound silly, but the last thing your children need on their first day at a new school is to be late. If you are driving them to school, choose a weekday to take a test run at the same time you will be driving during the school year. That way you will have a good idea of what time everyone needs to wake up and be ready to go. Keep in mind that there will likely be more traffic when school starts, so give yourself a little extra time. Make sure you know where to drop your children off and pick them up and what the procedures are for the car line. If you are stressed, your children will be too. If you know what you are doing, they will feel more confident. If your children are riding the bus to school, be sure to know where the bus stop is and what time you need to be there.
- Make sure your children get plenty of sleep. Anxiety can make it difficult to sleep well. Sleep deprivation in turn creates more anxiety. While you can’t force your children to fall asleep, you can create an environment to aid them. Limit screen time and make sure all electronics are put away before bed time. Set a bed-time routine and stick to it. With all the changes taking place in their lives, children need the consistency of routine. How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?
- Don’t make it a big deal. Sometimes the bigger a deal you make something, the more nerve-racking it becomes. School is everyday business. Talk openly with your kids about it. Acknowledge that it’s normal to be nervous, but emphasize, that you know they will be ok. Avoid creating such high expectations that anything less than a perfect experience will feel disappointing to them.
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