This year my oldest daughter made the move from elementary up to middle school. She was a nervous wreck, it can be very traumatic for children and their parents. After years of attending the same school they get so familiar with everyone and everything it is a big change. The thought of a new school, riding the bus, new teachers, new rules and new students can be daunting. Here are a few simple tips for parents to help their children adjust to their new school more easily.
1) Help Them Get Familiar With School and Routine – One thing my daughter was most afraid of was the unknown about her new middle school. Before school started I made a point of us visiting the school a few times. This way she was able to learn a little about the layout of the school, so she would not feel lost or overwhelmed. This is also her first year to ride the bus to school, she has a very good friend who lives near us and they meet together to ride the bus. Riding with her close friend from elementary school everyday also helped ease her nerves, and she got to arrive to her new school with some support.
2) Keep Their Routine The Same – With so many new changes and things they will have to learn at their new school be sure to keep everything else simple. Make sure even though they have a new school routine that their home routine is kept as familiar as possible. They may feel lost and out of sorts while they adjust to the new school so their home life needs to be simple and comforting. Make sure their new activities does not disrupt your everyday rituals and family time together.
3) Encourage Them To Participate In Extra Activities – Another tip for parents is to try to get your children to find a school activity that they are interested in and give it a try. This can help them adjust to their new school by introducing them to new people, new interests and gaining pride in their school through their new activity. Entering middle school this is one area my daughter was excited about, the chance to pick some extra electives. She is trying band and her schools outdoor education club where they learn about the environment and how to be green. It does not matter if the club or activity is a sport or academic both give them the opportunity to gain confidence.
4) Communicate – I know this may seem like a given but it is important to be sure your child understands they have someone to talk to about everything they are feeling. Many of our children may think we are dinosaurs and do not know what they are going through, they do not realize we once experienced the same thing. I sat down many times before my daughter entered her new middle school so she could voice any worries she had. I then reassured her that everything she was feeling was normal and reminded her that everyone else was a new student to the school and feeling the same thing. I also reminded her to relax and keep a positive attitude that she would get the hang of the new school and routine in no time. I do not bug her everyday for details, but I do sit and talk with her frequently so she will know whatever she may want to discuss I always have time to listen, and help in any way I can. I think as a parent that is one of the most important things we can do for our children.