Whether your child is starting school for the first time, starting at a new school or moving from primary school to high school, the adjustment can be challenging for the whole family.
Despite the challenge, transitioning to a new school is a hugely rewarding and exciting time. It’s important to support your child and be aware of any potential hurdles, to help the transition flow smoothly.
Plus, an effective adjustment is critical to student wellbeing, according to the Australian Government’s Kids Matter site. It can also have long-term implications on your child’s health and how well they do at school. Here are some tips to help you ensure a smooth transition for your family this year.
Prepare for the move
Preparation is key. When you are getting ready for your child to start his or her new school, make sure you have looked into what you need to do. You should:
- check all the materials the school gave you
- make a note of key dates
- speak to other parents
- purchase uniforms, textbooks and other necessary items well in advance
- familiarise yourself with the layout of the school and drop-off points
- be aware of how new hours and locations may impact your existing routine at home
- get to know any other nuances.
You can also help your child by trying to find other school students you may know, arranging play dates or catch ups before school starts.
Preparation helps you to be more organised and less stressed. Your child will pick up on your positive emotions and be happier too. Remember, children are sensitive to your feelings, so it’s important to keep your stress levels in check.
ADF families should contact the Defence Community Organisation as soon as they are notified of a posting. Dedicated resources are available to help Defence families feel confident and prepared when relocating to a new school.
Help your child settle in
Being supportive during the early days of a new school is vital when it comes to reducing your child’s fear and anxiety about starting. Make sure you’re not overloaded with work and other commitments at the time school starts and make your child your priority.
After the first few days, take the time to talk to your child about their new school. Ask positive questions and encourage your child to focus on the great things about the school. You can also point out that settling in takes time – and that it’s normal if your child finds the first few days challenging.
Understand and address challenges
Speaking of challenges, there are bound to be a few. Perhaps your child doesn’t know any other students at the school. Perhaps they have only ever attended a kindy once or twice per week and are finding the transition to five days overwhelming. If this is the case, keep their out-of-school schedule clear until they feel more at ease with their new routine.
If your child is shy and taking some time to make new friends, speak to them about this and reassure them that it’s okay. Arrange play dates with both new and old friends while they’re getting to know their new classmates, too. Remember, you know your child better than anyone, and you know how to support them as best they need.
If your child continues to struggle with the transition, you may wish to speak with the teacher. He or she will be able to advise you on coping strategies and also observe the classroom dynamics.
You can also visit the Kids Matter website for some more resources on transitioning to a new school.