By Mary Haas, MSW – July 23, 2019
Change is hard for most of us. We typically don’t welcome change fearlessly with arms wide open. Transitions are sometimes our greatest fear and can provoke anxiety, even in adults.
When faced with changing schools, our child can share these same fears. Even though change is inevitably a part of our lives, it is rarely easy.
When transferring schools and changing educational environments, our children face not only new school buildings but also new faces, new routines, and many new adjustments. As parents, we need to do our best to combat their fears and anxieties to help make their transition as smooth as possible.
Make sure changing schools is the most appropriate option. If other options are available, weigh all of the choices and be sure this is the best thing to do for your child.
Communication is important, because it is what connects us to our nervous child as they tackle this big life change. Talking to your child early and often throughout the transition will help make each step less scary and confusing.
As parents, it is important to remember that we are changing our child’s whole environment, disrupting their friendships and relationships, and taking away their familiar place of learning.
Because of these major life changes, it is crucial to include your child in the open discussion process. If possible, let your child be part of the decision-making process regarding which school they will attend or when the transition will take place. The more decisions they can be part of, the more they will feel in control of the situation.
Validate your child’s feelings about changing schools, including all of the things they are sad about leaving behind and all of the things they are anxious about going into. Show them that you are standing alongside them and support them the whole way. Communicating, validating, and nurturing this change can make all the difference in their emotional transition.
Making time to get to know the new teachers and staff ahead of the move to the new school can be an added support for both you and your child. This can be a chance for you to discuss any concerns or questions you may have regarding the school.
This is also the time to for them to get to know your child and to talk about your student’s needs to the people who will care for them throughout each day.
Another great way for your child to get involved in their new school is to join extracurricular activities. If your child is old enough they can try to join athletic teams such as soccer, basketball or perhaps other types of activities such as the debate or drama club.
Getting involved will help your child connect with other peers that share the same interests. This can create friendships and help your child develop a sense of belonging to the school.
As a parent you can get involved by joining the PTA and attending school meetings. Become friends with other parents and plan play dates if your children are young.
Together with these tips and objectives, you can ease your child’s transition into a change of hope and a bright new beginning at a new school.
Yes, changing schools can be scary, but it can also be a wonderful new beginning in a child’s life.