Starting a new school? Here are some tips to make it less scary
Maybe your child is starting kindergarten, moving up to middle or high school, or moving to a whole new community. Change is hard, but pediatrician Blakely Amati, MD, offered some tips for nervous kids (and parents) to make the transition a little easier when starting a new school.
Priority #1: Have a positive attitude
“Change can be really tough,” Dr. Amati said. “We’re creatures of habit. We all love routines, and we like to know what’s coming and what to expect. Those transitional times can be anxiety provoking, but they can also be great opportunities for growth and meeting new people and trying out new things. Just having a positive attitude with your children about the opportunities that may lay ahead is a good first place to start.”
Tips for starting a new school
If your child is going from elementary to middle school or from middle to high school, they probably have friends they can lean on as they make the transition to the new physical space. This makes the change a little easier because they’re all experiencing it together.
Moving to a different district, state or even a different country can be especially difficult because everything is new. Here are some tips to help in any of these situations:
Go to the meet ‘n greets. “Going to the open house, touring the school with your child, meeting the teachers, these are all important steps to help children know what to expect,” said Dr. Amati. “In middle school where there’s multiple teachers, reaching out early to initiate an open line of communication could be helpful.”
Create opportunities for finding friends. “If your kids are young, maybe arrange a meet up at the park with kids from the school or stay after school and play on the playground,” Dr. Amati suggested. “With children in middle school, it may be you are working with your child to sign them up for after school activites or events they’re interested in so they can find like-minded peers. That in itself is a protective factor against bullying while also helping them get plugged in with what they already like.”
Encourage open communication. “Listen out for things that may not be going so well,” Dr. Amati said. “It’s going to be stressful and that’s natural. You don’t have to insert what your own experience was, but instead be a sounding board and listen to what’s causing your child stress. Just staying open and being as involved as possible is enough.”
Remember all the other back-to-school advice
Kids desperately need a routine. They perform best when they’re mentally and physically healthy, which relates to the foods they’re eating and the sleep they’re getting. In the midst of all the newness and craziness, the more parents can give their kids some type of schedule or routine, and stick to it, the better.
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