Ask the Expert series, Dr. Paul Lieblich offers his expert advice for parents who have children changing schools
29 August 2018| Last updated on 30 August 2018
Question: My child is starting a new school this fall, how can I help make this move easier?
Answer: Here’s 5 steps to ease the transition of changing schools
Back-to-school is a busy and overwhelming time for everyone, but when a child is going to a new school, there may be an added level of apprehension for the child and parents. If parents have a positive, flexible approach and model this for children, a change in schools can open many new opportunities.
Here are a few thoughtful and proactive steps that can help ease this transition for the whole family and help everyone adjust to a new culture and new people quickly and smoothly.
1. Read Up and Ask Questions
Parents should do their best to be informed before the first day of school. This means reading the school’s literature and making notes about things that are confusing. Keep in touch with the admissions team and the administration over the summer and ask questions.
When September comes, you will have many more questions, and will be glad you took the time to review the mission statement, curricular overviews and school calendar in advance.
2. Meet Families
Many schools put current families in touch with new families to help them assimilate. The buddy families are a valuable resource in that they can help answer the parents’ questions and often host play-dates or make introductions to other families. Having one familiar face on the first day of school makes a big difference for your child.
Many times mutual friends offer to make introductions to people they know at the new school. Parents should take advantage of any introductions for their children and themselves. Any friendly face and resource helps to go from feeling like the new kid to feeling comfortable.
3. Meet the Teacher
If possible, schools often offer to have new students meet the homeroom teacher prior to the first day. This is usually a brief but very meaningful visit.
It provides an opportunity for a child to find a few things they are excited to explore in the classroom and discover some common interests with their teacher. It definitely helps get over the hurdle of the first day!
4. Get involved
One of the best ways to develop a connection to a school culture is to get involved, for both children and parents. Children may be able to sign up for optional clubs or afterschool activities.
For parents, finding a common interest and volunteering is a great way to meet people and learn about the school.
It also shows your child that you care about their school and learning environment. Reach out to the Parent Association to find out what the different committees are, and find one that works with your schedule and matches your interests. There is usually something for everyone!
5. Have Family Meetings
In those early weeks, practice being an active listener as your child adjusts. Regular family meetings where you can discuss the school day, from friendships to learning experiences, will help foster a connection between you and your child and between your family and the new school.
A new school is a new beginning. It is a chance to make friends and learn about your child as their world expands. Children are often very resilient and embrace change, as long as they have the support and guidance to feel comfortable in the process.
About Dr. Paul Lieblich
Ed.D., Executive Principal, Clarion School (an SIG School).
Dr. Lieblich is the Director of Schools at Scholars International Group spearheading the development of Clarion School, the only progressive school in the Middle East. He is a well-regarded educator having co-authored the International Baccalaureate PYP, recognized as a National Distinguished Principal by the US State Department and has led several leading international schools in Europe and Asia.
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