kid relocation

How to Help Kids Settle into a New School

Moving to a new school is often the hardest part of relocation for kids. Switching schools means adapting to a new environment, making new friends, getting to know new teachers and figuring out how to navigate their way through a new system. Here are some tips to you and your child.

1. Before the First Day of School

(1) 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 this and also allow you to offer any concerns and have your questions answered. If you have a teen, they will probably want to visit the school on their own. Just encourage them to do so if the school permits it.

(2) 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 car-pools in your neighborhood or ask that your child 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.

(3) 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 own children. This will make the transition to a new school easier and will give you peace of mind as well. Neighbor get-togethers also allow you to find out more about the local school, and to get acquainted with other parents.

2. First Day of School

(1) Go with your child on the first day

If possible, accompany your child on their first day. It's a great opportunity to meet their teachers and to help them feel more secure. 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.

(2) 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.

3. First Few Weeks or Months

(1) 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. Watch for any signs that your child is not adjusting. Ask for one-on-one time with teachers, if needed.

(2) If grades change, calm down

Be aware that your child's grades could be affected by the move. Often, grades go down. This can be due to the change in curriculum, change in teaching styles or simply that they need time to adjust.

(3) Encourage extra-curricular activities, sleep-overs and play-dates

Help your child find clubs and activities they'll want to attend either through school, a community center or a local church. 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 to a movie.

Remember, it always takes time for kids to adjust to a new home, new school and new friends. 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.

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