Starting Grade 1, Grade 8 and moving to a new school is anxiety inducing for any child, no matter how confident they may be. New faces, new teachers and the prospect of making new friends can be a lot to handle. Having conversations with your child during these three transition phases in their lives is as important for their readiness as getting their school uniform and stationery.
Even if your little one is excited for their first day at “big school” there is still a need to mentally and emotionally prepare them for what lies ahead. According to Edward Schlor, author of American Academy of Pediatrics; Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5-12, the conversation you will need to have with your child will include telling them what time school starts and ends each day as well as the positive aspects of school. You will need to speak to them about their feelings (both good and bad) and what they will face on this new journey. Once they have voiced out their opinions then you can reassure them that they will do great and that all the children in their class will be nervous and also looking to make new friends just as they are.
Schlor advises you to visit the school with your child to see their new classroom and meet their new teacher ahead of their first day. “Leave a note in your child's lunchbox that will remind them you're thinking of them while they’re at school and also reassure your child that if any problems arise at school, you will be there to help resolve them,” Schlor says.
Leave a note in your child's lunchbox that will remind them you're thinking of them while they’re at school
The transition from primary school to high school is a big one. In grade 7 your child was probably at the top of the food chain, so to speak, and now they will be one of many little grade 8s who will be trying to fit in. During this time they will meet new people who will greatly influence them, they will have a lot more school work which will be more difficult than what they were used to and they will be going through adolescent changes during this time as well. During this important pre-high school conversation you will be having, you should discuss what they’re most looking forward to and what they’re worried about, advises the Australian Department of Education. “Emphasise the positives and highlight the new opportunities your child will have.” This while preparing them for what they are likely to experience. Teenagers often feel a closer bond with their peers rather than their parents so make sure you encourage them to keep an open line of communication with you so they don’t have to go through all these changes alone or without adult interventions.
Moving to a new town, province or country means a new school for your child. This has disrupted the routine they have formed and pulled them away from the comfort they have created for themselves, not to mention losing friends they have made. This is in addition to finding their feet in a new school. It’s a lot for a child of any age to handle. Your child will need to hear words of reassurance from you. Encourage them to use the same or similar methods they used previously to integrate themselves into the new school and social structure. Remind them of who they are so they don’t find themselves involved with the wrong crowd in order to fit in. Tell them you will make every effort to make them feel comfortable in the new school. A good trick is to take them to the new school so they can be somewhat familiar with the school and the teachers before their first day. Another tip to make the transition smoother is to keep with any traditions they would have had before to minimise the feeling of too many changes.