Moving to a new school is usually the hardest part of a move for kids. Switching schools means making new friends, getting to know new teachers, settling into a new school and figuring out how to navigate their way through a new system. It is particularly difficult for teens.
Visit the school first
If possible, before the first day of school begins, take a tour of the school with your child. Often, school administrators will encourage you to do this and provide an opportunity for you and your child to ask questions.
If you have a teen, they will probably want to visit the school on their own. If this is the case, ask the school to have another teen show them around, so they have a chance to meet someone who'll be in their class. Just encourage them to do so if the school permits it.
Make sure they know the route to and from school
If your child has to take transit or walk to school, make sure they know the route, the times that the bus picks them up and where, and how to get home. If possible, you might want to speak with the school administrator about carpools in your neighborhood or ask that your child to be partnered with another child so they can walk together. Just ensure that your child knows their home telephone number and their address, just in case. The school will also ask for the emergency contact number, too.
Host a neighborhood get-together
If you moved during school holidays, such as Christmas or summer break, it's a great idea to host a neighborhood get-together, especially if you know that there are children in your area who are close in age to your children which will give your child a chance to get to know kids in their neighborhood.
It will make the transition to a new school easier and will give you peace of mind as well. A neighbor get-together also allows you to find out more about the local school, and to get acquainted with other parents.
Go with your child on the first day
If possible, accompany your child on their first day.
It is an excellent opportunity to meet their teachers and can add a feeling of security. You can ask the teacher to assign a buddy to your child if such a system isn't already in place. Let the teacher know of any concerns or issues.
Pack a special lunch
Leave special treats in their lunch bag. A note from you is always appreciated, too. Just try not to make them feel homesick, rather encouraged.
Talk to them--a lot
The first few weeks of school can be challenging. You might find that your child reacts differently than you may have expected. Make sure you take the time to talk to them about their experience and if they're adjusting to the new school. Watch for any signs that your child is not adjusting. Ask for one-on-one time with teachers, if needed.
Grades may change
Be aware that your child's grades could be affected by the move. Often, grades go down. It can be due to the change in curriculum, change in teaching styles or simply that they need time to adjust.
Encourage their involvement
Help your child find clubs and activities they'll want to attend either through school, a community center or a local church.
Encourage sleep-overs and play-dates
Ask your child about new friends, then call their parents and invite them over for an afternoon or evening.
Or volunteer to drive them to the mall or a movie.
Remember, it's going to take time
Adjusting to a new home, new school and new friends will take some time. Give your child the chance to feel comfortable in their new space. It may even take a few months before things settle. Allow your child (and yourself) that time. And before you know it, you'll all be feeling a lot more at home.