Parenting Through Relocation and School Changes
Starting a new school can be an exciting and challenging process, and every child’s experiences are different. While
never predictable, there are steps you can take as a parent to help ease the transition.
Prior to the change, keep your child informed and involved. Talk with them about schools you are considering or have selected. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and remind them that it is okay to be sad or angry. If your child seems fixated on the negatives, remind them of some of the positives. The goal here is not to force them to change their feelings, but to help them understand that both advantages and disadvantages exist. For example, talk to your child about programs or teams at the new school that they might enjoy.
If your child is leaving friendships at a previous school, let them know that these relationships do not have to end. Remind them of all the ways to keep in touch- email, Skype, phone calls and WeChat. Have them practice contacting friends using these methods while still at the same school, making it more tangible and realistic. If the friends are still living nearby, investigate clubs or activities they can take part in together outside of school. If your family is moving, plan to reconnect in the summer or at holidays. Make these plans ahead of time so your child has them to look forward to on tough days,
Before the first day of classes, find out if the school provides a campus tour for new students. If they don’t, request permission to walk the school grounds with your child. Identify where the important things are, making the first day of classes less intimidating. Ensure your child knows how to get to school and practice any routes together. If English isn’t your child’s first language, investigate support programs and services that can help. Introduce yourself to the people who will be working with your child, such as their principal, teacher, or counselor.
Once school begins, ensure that your child has the right equipment, clothes and books. This avoids any additional feelings of ostracism. Help them get organized. If they become overwhelmed, assist them with breaking down assignments or projects into manageable tasks. If your child is having trouble keeping up with academic expectations, recognize that this is common with changing schools. Normalize the need for additional help, and help your child find a tutor or get engaged with learning support. Attend any parent nights or conferences, and request additional meetings about ongoing concerns.
While never easy, your child’s adjustment to a new school can be as smooth as possible with your your support and assistance.