As a parent, you no doubt do your best to structure your child's life in a manner that removes instability, minimizes emotionally difficult changes and provides predictable routines. But, no matter how hard you try, change is inevitable and can be impactful. One change that's sure to happen at some point is a change in your child's school (i.e. moving, graduating). While the first week in a new school can be exciting, it can also cause your child anxiety and uncertainty.
Below are some tips to help make your child's transition to a new school smoother so they'll adjust quicker and better.
1. Connect With the Teacher
Children feel safer when they're connected to an adult they trust. Therefore, when your child isn't with you, you'll want to transfer their connection focus to their teacher. If you notice your child doesn't seem to be adjusting to school very well, contact their teacher. Explain to them that your child doesn't seem like they've settled in yet and ask if they wouldn't mind making a special effort of reaching out to them, so they feel more at home.
2. Talk It Out
Ask your child if they have any concerns about their first day of school or what they're excited about most. Give them some encouragement about their new school to help shape how they view it.
3. Let Them Know You'll Be There for Them
Young children are more reassured when they know their parents will be there for them every step of the way. While you won't be sitting in class with them, assure them you'll be there before and after school and available during school hours if needed.
4. Help Them Find New Friends
Sign your child up for nearby classes or camps, visit the local library for storytime or play at the school playground. Future friends are all over. Helping your child meet new friends before they start school will help them feel less anxious because they'll have familiar faces in their classroom.
5. Stay Alert to Signs Your Child is Worried
Your child should do fine after about a week or two. But, if you notice their unhappy after a couple weeks, it could indicate a problem. Perhaps they're being bullied and aren't understanding things in class and are afraid to speak up.
It could be helpful if you take your child to school their first day, even if they're assigned a bus. This way you can walk them to their class, help them find their way around and introduce them to their new teacher. A pediatric occupational therapist can provide parent and school consultations to ensure cohesion among home, therapy and school environment.