Changing schools; whether during school break, or mid-way through the year; can be challenging. We’ve put together our top tips for making the transition a little smoother and making a school change successful for everyone.
They say that knowledge is power and in this case, it really is true. Only you can decide the right timing to tell your child about an impending school move – in some cases too long a lead time might create more anxiety; but in others, your child might be expecting it months ahead of time, especially if you are relocating out of the area.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, make sure that you give your child plenty of time to process. This is a big life change for them and moving away from friends can feel like the end of the World.
Be as transparent as is age appropriate and make sure that they know it’s ok to have mixed up emotions. Communicate to them that figuring it all out in their own mind can take time, which is completely ok.
Oftentimes; just knowing that they can ask you as many questions as they need to, will help allay your child’s fears.
Create an exciting Narrative
Sometimes not knowing what’s ahead can create anxiety. When we know what’s going to happen we feel a greater degree of security, but when you don’t know what’s ahead, this can cause us to imagine all the terrible things that could happen.
By changing the narrative, you can override the fight or flight response that works against us in situations such as this, and create a buzz of excitement.
In the lead up to the transition; help this excitement along and generate enthusiasm by talking about all the things that will go their way. Encourage them to imagine arriving at school happy and confident, making lots of friends and having a teacher who is kind and approachable.
You may have already taken a school tour, but a school tour can only tell you so much. Knowing what lights your child up; dig deeper by chatting with the School Principal; and other parents, if possible; about additional activities your child can take part in.
Discovering what programs exist both in school, as well as community activities outside of school, can help both you and your child feel more prepared. It will also give you something to look forward to and get excited about.
Meet with the Teacher
If it’s possible, aim to meet your Child’s new teacher ahead of time. Not only is it much easier to address issues arising in the future if communication has already been opened, but it also gives you an opportunity to discuss any challenges that may arise as a result of changing schools.
Depending on your Child’s needs, it also gives you the chance to talk about anything specific as pertains to him or her, which helps the school individualize your Child’s learning plan.
Even if you’ve managed to successfully change the narrative, anxiety can still creep in. Role-playing – or even discussing - potential situations that arise and how your child can manage them will help them feel more at ease with the upcoming change.
Remember the Past
Just because they are moving to a new school, doesn’t mean your child has to blot out the past. Help them in their transition by making a scrapbook; or digital journal; of people, activities and friends from their old school.
If you are relocating to a new area, you could also include the community you are leaving. This will give your child an anchor when they are feeling a little adrift.
Last; but not least; be prepared. Knowing the route to school and your new morning routine will help your child feel secure.
Where possible, make sure you have a copy of your child’s weekly timetable, so that everyone knows what’s happening with your child on each day. It’s also a great idea to take with you a portfolio of your child’s education to date – this will help their teacher get up to speed in knowing where your child’s at, so that they can blend seamlessly into their new class environment.
Change; on any level; can be a bit intimidating for us all, but it’s a necessary part of life. Choosing to move your child to a different school doesn’t have to be scary or hard work. It can be both a positive and exciting experience for everyone involved. Contact us to find out how we can make your transition a smooth one and how First Steps can empower your child to excel.