How to Help Your Child Transition to a New School

Children often struggle when they move to a new school in the middle of the year. Even the transition between grade school and junior high can be difficult, and so can moving from being homeschooled to a public school. Some kids don’t do well with change; having new teachers, a different classroom, and making new friends is overwhelming.

Supporting your child while they change schools will help them deal with the stress and uncertainties that arise from being put into unfamiliar territory. To help with their transition, here are several tips.

1. Talk to their teachers

Your child’s teachers might be able to help make their move easier. Chances are, they’ve already helped numerous parents in the same situation, and they probably have some helpful resources and tips for you as a parent.

Address your concerns with your child’s teachers, especially if your child struggles with change more than others. For example, if they’re on the autism spectrum, it will help to give their teachers a heads up about how they might manage their stress a little differently than other kids by stimming. 

Provided it’s not a disruptive stim, make sure their teachers won’t interrupt them. If your child does have disruptive stims, you can address them with ABA therapy at home and help them find alternatives.

2. Go easy on your child

New schedules and unfamiliar teachers can make kids nervous. They’re already going to feel extra pressure from school, so go easy on them at home. Don’t fill up their time at home with unnecessary chores and activities. Give them time to adjust to their new school first.

3. Stick to your child’s old routine

Consistency will go a long way to reduce the overwhelm your child feels in their new educational environment. If you have a specific routine for getting them ready in the morning, keep that same routine and schedule as best as possible. You may need to alter your timeline, but keep everything else intact.

4. Have more playtime with your child

Your child could feel alienated and alone if they moved to a new school without their old friends. Setting aside special playtime will show your child you want to spend time with them and they will feel more supported.

5. Ask your child how they feel

It’s easy to ask, “How was your day?” but kids get used to giving answers they think adults expect from them. Most of the time, they just say things like “good” or “fine.” A better question to ask is, “How do you feel about your new school?” When they share, praise them for being open.

Providing an open-ended question that allows your child to share their authentic feelings will give you the chance to support them if something isn’t working for them. For instance, they might say they feel bad because they’re getting bullied. If that’s the case, you can request a meeting with the principal to resolve the problem. 

Another possible issue they might express is not being able to see the whiteboard from their seat. If your child doesn’t know how to talk to their teacher about this, they’ll just suffer in silence for the entire year. They might need glasses, but some kids do better academically when they sit in the front row.

6. Read more with your child

Reading books with your child about the situations they’re experiencing is always helpful. When kids can relate to a situation in a story, it makes them feel like they’re not alone in the world.

Find a book about moving to a new school and read it together. Some popular titles for this subject are:

  • Twindergarten by Nikki Ehrlich
  • Geraldine by Elizabeth Lilly
  • Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-of-School Dilemma
  • First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg

If these suggestions aren’t age-appropriate for your child, you can find more books on Amazon or at your local bookstore.

7. Join the PTA

Parent-Teacher Associations are an excellent way to connect with other parents whose kids might be going through the same difficulties as your child. Also, connecting with other parents will help you manage your own stress from the situation. It’s nice to have people around who know what you’re experiencing.

Be patient with your child as they adjust

Adjusting to a new school takes time, so give your child plenty of patience. If they seem extra stressed out or unwilling to cooperate during the transition, cut them some slack. They might just be overwhelmed and aren’t trying to be difficult. By extending patience and understanding, your support will be their rock.




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I'm Jethro. I'm a carpenter, and love to build things! You can find me in the garage or at work most days of the week.My sister is Crystal, who you might know from this very blog. Her son Johnny loves video games just as much as I do - so we have a lot of fun playing together!

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