Transferring Schools Can be a Positive Experience
Whatever the circumstances, changing schools can be both frightening and often exhilarating for kids. On one hand, they won’t necessarily know anyone at their new school; on the other hand, it is an opportunity for a fresh start.
The best we can hope for as parents is to minimize the negative impact of changing schools. How can we do that?
If the reason for changing schools is a death or divorce in the family, then it becomes more challenging. But as we will see, with the proper preparation and coping strategies, any move can become a positive one.
A good first step is to say your proper good-byes to your old school and community. Getting some closure while maintaining contact with old friends can help relieve a lot of stress. And staying in touch is easier than ever with cell phones, e-mail, and Facebook.
The two biggest concerns kids usually have when changing schools is making new friends and adjusting in the classroom. We can’t and shouldn’t hold our child’s hand every step of the way, but there are some easy ways we can contribute to making for an easier transition.
Some kids will make new friends so fast it will make your head spin. It’s just natural for them. For those who need a little push-start, we can work with the teacher to help them find a suitable friend to buddy up with in the short term.
Another great way to make new friends is to find activities that interest your child. Get him involved in school sports or clubs. If there isn’t one he likes, help him start a new one.
Perhaps the best way to assist your son or daughter when they are changing schools is to make the move in early summer. This way, your child will have the entire summer to meet neighborhood kids that may attend his new school or make friends at the pool or park.
What about making that smooth transition in the classroom? Hand-deliver your child’s old school records to his new school. When you establish open communication lines with counselors and teachers at the new school, you can ensure that your child is placed at the appropriate level and maybe even get a head start on preparing him for the new curriculum.
While some kids will relish the opportunity to reinvent themselves at a new school, the vast majority will need all the help they can get making the transition. Again, you will want to be hands-on, but depending on your child’s age, it will be good for them to learn some coping mechanisms to use when changing schools.
We’ve addressed the two biggest issues—the lack of friends and anxiety over being unprepared academically. There are a few other minor steps you can take in being an advocate for your child during the process of changing schools.
Some schools may be open to you visiting your child’s potential classrooms and giving input into which one you think will be the best fit for your kid. You can also visit the school outside of school hours and walk around with your child so he is familiar with the terrain.
Changing schools is something every kid will go through at least once, even if it is only changing from a junior high school to a high school in the same town. Your child will probably experience some discomfort at first, but children are resilient, and most make friends easily. If we are reasonably supportive, the kids will figure things out on their own.
Author: David Frank