Your child may be starting school for the first time, moving on to middle school/intermediate or high school, or may be changing schools. How do you get them ready?
School is such a big part of a child’s life, and adjusting to a school environment or a new school is a big deal. Some kids will take it in their stride and other kids will be anxious, as with everything in life. Here are some ideas to help make the transition easier:
1) Visit the school in advance. If your child is a new entrant, most schools allow pre-entrants to join the new entrants’ class for a few afternoons a week in the lead up to their starting date. This will help your child become comfortable with their new surrounding, their new teacher and their classmates before they start full time.
2) Meet the teacher one-on-one. Introduce your child and yourself, and spend a few moments getting to know each other. Your child’s teacher is going to be a big part of their life for the next year.
3) Shop for school supplies together. Paper and pencils, erasers, calculators and crayons. Get a stationery list from your child’s teacher and go on a special shopping trip. Let your child pick some of their own school supplies in honour of this new step in their education.
4) Reassure your child. Spend time together talking about what they can expect from school, about what will be expected of them, and about your positive school experiences.
5) Talk with your child about their course choices if they are starting higher level education. These choices have consequences down the track for future careers. Although your child will likely want to make some independent choices, your wisdom and guidance is especially needed to help them keep future options open.
6) Go together to fit-out and purchase a school uniform for your child’s new school, and preferably earlier than later. Having the uniform in their room for a while is a good way for your child to get used to (and build excitement for) the idea of a new school.
7) Brainstorm together for ways to help your child build new friendships, especially if they are shy. Teachers of new entrant classes are particularly good at helping your littlie adjust and make new friends, but not necessarily so for older kids. Have a chat with your child’s new teacher if they struggle to be outgoing and make new connections, and ask them to facilitate a little.
8) Stick to a solid home routine, especially for the first few months of your child’s new school experience. While everything is changing around them, it’s essential that they feel the comfort, security and constancy of a predictable home environment.
9) Go to your child’s school events, get to know other parents and get involved if time allows. Building relationships with other parents can help your child get to know other kids in their class.
10) Be patient: your child will adjust in time. Expect a few ups and downs, and keep conversation open about how things are going.