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Transitioning Children Into a New School Environment

It’s never easy moving your child to a different school. The idea of having new teachers, classrooms and friends can be daunting to even the most outgoing of kids, and it will take purposeful planning on the parents’ behalf to ensure that their kids know it’s normal to be nervous about heading to a new learning environment.

It isn’t uncommon for students to feel out of place for the first few months of transitioning to a new school, especially if they are in a new home environment as well. Kids who experience the stress of going to a new school may show their discomfort by acting out, withdrawing from social activities or even changing their diet and sleeping patterns.

If you’re wondering how to deal with transferring schools, below are some ideas on how to help you and your child through the process. In this post, we’ll share tips for going to a new school so you can help your child adjust. We’ll also answer a few common questions parents have about helping a child settle into school. Going to a new school seems scary, but with the following tips and a positive mindset, the transition will be much easier.

Tips and Tricks!

Transitions at any age are hard, but they can be made easier by keeping the following tips for moving to a new school in mind. These tips can help a child of any age adjust more easily to a new school and environment.

  1. Allow Your Child and Yourself to Experience the Stress: This particular step seems counterintuitive, but acknowledging the stress that both you as a parent and your children are experiencing makes it that much easier to move beyond it. This is an excellent opportunity for you to sit and talk with your child about what is bothering them, what their fears are and what can be done to help them feel better about the new surroundings and circumstances.

  2. Expect Some Changes in Your Child: While a child is getting used to a new routine and schedule, he or she may be clingy, sad, or out of sorts. This is normal for many kids, according to research, because kids’ stress hormones actually elevate during this transition period but it has no lasting damage.

  3. Talk to Teachers About Your Concerns: Almost no one will understand how much stress you and your child are going through more than your child’s teacher. Discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher, and ask for feedback. You are likely to discover that your teacher has resources to help you help your child. After all, they’ve likely helped out numerous other children who have made a big move before!

  4. Start The Process Early: Consider initiating the transition to a formal school environment well before you need to start work or have other commitments. The transition process can take months before a child feels comfortable and like his normal self in a daycare / childcare / preschool / school setting.

  5. Keep Open Communication With Your Child: The best way to know when your child is doing well is simply by talking to them. If you keep tabs on what your children are doing, you will know if they are struggling or doing well in their transition. This requires constant communication with your child about how they are feeling. Before you know it, you and your kids will be happily settled in your new environments.

  6. Talk to Fellow Parents: Having people who understand exactly what you are going through can provide support, and can even help your child find other children who are new to the school.

  7. Plan a Play Date: Speak with other parents and see if you can arrange a play date with your child’s classmates. If they are busy, make sure you carve out time to play as well. A few hours at the park or some outdoor activities can help your child feel more comfortable around other kids in their new school while having fun, getting exercise and relieving stress.

  8. Tour the School: Your child might be worried about getting lost in their new school. To help them feel more confident on their first day, see if you can arrange a tour before school starts. Introduce him or her a few times to his teacher. Show the toys there and do at least a couple “trial runs.” Also, make sure your child knows where they will be picked up and dropped off every day to help calm their nerves.

  9. Talk about school at home before the transition, no matter what the age of your child. Read books about children who are starting preschool or begin day care. Some of my favorites are: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas, Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney. Talk about how much fun school is, and even play “pretend school.”

  10. Prioritize Sleep: Moving to a new school is a stressful time, and your child may be struggling to get the sleep they need. Children ages 6 to 13 need nine to 11 hours of sleep every night. Adequate and safe sleep will help your child cope with anxiety in a healthy way and process new experiences. To help your child get the sleep they need, limit screen time before bed, follow a bedtime routine and keep them from doing anything too exciting before bed. Make sure they get at least 60 minutes of exercise per day and try to prevent caffeine consumption. Lastly, make sure their bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. It’s best to get into a school sleep routine a week or two before school starts.

  11. Encourage Your Child’s Hobbies: Supporting your child’s hobbies can provide them with much-needed stability and relaxation during a transition to another school. Hobbies help kids release stress and gain a fresh perspective on their situation. Through engaging in hobbies, kids can have fun and take a break from thinking about their new environment. If your child doesn’t have a favorite hobby, suggest that they try some extracurricular activities their school offers. Engaging in their favorite extracurricular activity might bring your child opportunities to make friends at their new school. You can also suggest different activities, from active hobbies like sports, yoga and hiking to creative ones like art, music and writing.

  12. Be Patient: It’ll take a little time for your child to get used to a new school. Be patient and let your child know you are there for them. Reassure them they are going to have a great school year, and before they know it, they’ll no longer feel like the new kid.

This process is not nearly so difficult for most kids, and it’s a good lesson that life is full of new people, new experiences, and transitions. For most children, this journey and story has a happy ending. Thanks to all of the amazing teachers out there and their infinite patience, children are able to LOVE preschool while learning valuable lessons!

Some More Advice Here!

Note: At Otter Learning we refer to all of our facilities as schools in order to emphasize the importance of learning that takes place due to the incredible commitment of our teachers and additional support team members. Others may refer to our schools as childcare, daycare and preschool.

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