Moving to a new school is difficult, and even more difficult is making that change during the school year. If you are a parent who has to transfer your child or children to another school, take heart. Children do adjust; it might just take a little more effort on your part to help them settle into the new school.
Meet With the School Before the Child Starts
School administrators will be the first to tell you that it is important for the school to be notified of your child's arrival, any special needs your children may have, and if there were any issues at the old school. It would be best if you can meet with the administrators and teacher before your child walks in the door.
You may also want to discuss how your child or children feel about the move, or if you have a child who is shy or has academic challenges you are concerned about. Remember, teachers and staff are there to help you with the transition. The more you are willing to share, the easier you will make it for your child or children to succeed.
It is also equally important to point out your child's strengths, passions, and what your child might miss about the old school. For instance, if your child played in the school band, and the new school does not have a band program, you may ask the staff what the community offers as an alternative, or if they have other suggestions on how you can keep your child engaged. It is critical that the things your child loved to do in the old school can be transferred to the new community.
Talk to Your Child About What to Expect
Remember that each child will have his own way of dealing with the change. Some children will be vocal, while others may have a harder time expressing their feelings. Ask your kids what they need, how you can help and how they are feeling about the change. The sooner you start to talk to them about the move, the sooner they will start to open up.
Remind them that you know the move will be hard on them and that you are there to help. And when your children share their feelings, make sure you try to understand what they are going through and be sympathetic even though you are going through your own transition and change.
Get Kids Involved in School Activities
Find out ahead of time what the school offers in terms of school activities. It is a great way to help children begin the transition when you talk about the activities at the new school that your child might be interested in joining.
If possible, get in touch with school coaches, teachers, counselors—whoever you feel can assist in getting your child immersed in their new environment. Find out if the school has a buddy system for new students, and if so, ask for the buddy's name in advance.
Make Time for Old Friends and New Friends
A great way to start the transition to the new school is to contact your child's new teacher and ask that soon-to-be classmates offer to be pen pals. Teachers are usually quite open to this idea as it helps bridge the gap and encourages students to become active in another child's experience.
While it is a great idea to encourage your children to stay in touch with old friends, making new friends in the new school is even more important. Try to balance contact with old friends and contact with new friends. Often you will find that once your children are in their new school, it will take only a few weeks before the new friends begin to take center stage.
Stay in Touch and Engaged With the New School
Even if it seems that your child has adapted to their new school, make sure that you check in periodically to speak to teachers and administrators who may have a better view of just how well your child is adjusting. Some children might want to hide problems from their parents and want you to think that everything is fine. In many cases, a school may see signs of trouble before you do.