Written by Nicole Harrison

The beginning of a new school year is usually filled with excitement. However, the first day at a new school is a different story, and in some cases, the anticipation and excitement is outweighed by anxiety and nerves. Your child’s feelings on attending a new school may vary based on his or her age – they may feel anger, resentment, excitement, or nervousness. Regardless of how old your kids are, there are a handful of tactics to help them adjust to this change.

Orientation/school tour. This is easily one of the most important steps to do with your kids. Make time to attend new student orientation, or if there isn’t one, schedule a school tour together. Both of you will have the opportunity to learn more about the school, class structure, curriculum, and get any questions answered. Whether going to an orientation or scheduling a tour, you and your kids will become familiar with the new school before their first day. This is also a perfect time to meet the teacher. A few familiar faces and knowing where to go will make the first days much easier for your child. It may seem silly, but we promise, it will make a huge difference and will immediately make them more comfortable during the transition if they can navigate through the hallways, and find their way around with ease. Spend time learning about the new school. Are there any fun facts about the new school? When was it built? How many students go there? What type of electives do they offer? Spend time learning as much as you can about the new school. The more you learn before the first day, the more prepared your kids will be.

TMAT322Stock up on school supplies. To ease your child’s nerves, take them back-to-school shopping to stock up on school supplies they need. Most schools have a list of supplies their students will need for each grade. If the school hasn’t provided a list, contact them and ask for a list of supplies your child will need most.

Explore the playground. Before your kids’ first day, take them up to the playground, spend time playing and making them comfortable with the new set up. Find activities they like such as the swings or monkey bars and spend time playing with them. That way, when they go off to recess they will be familiar with the new playground and will most likely branch out and join other students participating in activities they love!

Prepare for the first day. Before school starts, allow your child a trial run of a school day. Practice walking to the bus stop, walking the route, or driving to school. The evening before the first day of school, run through last minute items. Where is the bus stop? What time does the bus come? What is the bus number? Pack a special lunch for the first day. Spend this time sifting through the remaining items that haven’t been addressed. If your little one seems particularly nervous for his or her first day, consider taking them to school versus riding the bus.

Get involved in your kids’ school. If your children are young, it helps to get involved. Network with other parents, get to know their teacher and classmates on a personal level. If you’re able to, volunteering your time is a great way to make your son or daughter feel more comfortable in a new environment, and they will be able to see a familiar face in class.

Set up play dates. Shortly after your kids start at their new school, set up some play dates with their classmates. This is a great way for them to build relationships with their classmates and to help them make friends at school. There is a fine line between supporting them and putting too much pressure on them, make sure your kids feel supported at all times.

Participate in extracurricular activities. Are there activities in your new community that your child has an interest in? If your son enjoys martial arts, try to find a program he can participate in. If your daughter enjoys swimming, try to find a swim team she can join. Extracurricular activities are an added bonus for you and your kids to become acquainted with the community.

Attending a new school can be stressful for children and parents, hopefully these pointers will aid the transition. We encourage parents to keep their children involved throughout the process, without being too pushy or making them step too far outside their comfort zones.

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