Preparing for the School Move
Settling into a new school starts well before the first day. To ensure a smooth transition, make these steps while your child is still in their current school.
1. Involve your child in the move
Rather than keeping your child in the dark, get them involved in each stage of the move, helping to foster excitement and anticipation.
Easy ways you can do this include picking out and writing the leaving card for their schoolteacher and friends, bringing them along for a sneak peek of the new local town, and the house you’ll be moving to.
Helping your child to prepare for the move and familiarise themself with new surroundings can lessen the time they’ll take to settle.
2. Address any concerns
Keeping an open dialogue with your child is one of the most important aspects of helping them settle in a new school. Throughout the process, keep communicating and gauge how your child is feeling about what lies ahead.
Reassure them when they have concerns and offer practical solutions to their queries wherever possible. Children can often have a lot of questions about things they’ve never encountered or don’t understand. Leave none of these unanswered and your child will feel as comfortable as possible as their first day approaches.
3. Make a scrapbook
Your child will have a lot of memories from their time at their old school. The happiness they’ve felt and the things they’ve experienced is not something you’ll want to let slip away. Preserve those memories by creating a school scrapbook, full of things your child can look back on with pride.
Include achievements like certificates or high grades, photos from school trips and medals from any extracurricular activities. This can be used as inspiration for embracing a new school.
4. Make the journey to the new school
Another way you can easily bring familiarity before the move is to establish what will soon become routine. On your trips to get to know the new area, include a test run to your new school.
This might be a car journey or walk, but either way, it’s a good idea to establish what’s coming up. When the journey happens for real, settling in will take less time.
5. Be positive
We know moving somewhere new can be tough. You’ll likely be juggling a thousand things, your child’s new school being just one of them, so it’s important to try and focus on the positivity of the move.
A new school is an exciting opportunity for your child and if you remain positive, your child will follow suit, making the whole experience easier.
6. Get to know the new school
This is one of the most vital pre-move steps to take. A new school may be daunting for some children, but a lot of the nerves can be calmed simply by visiting the school beforehand. An informal visit, where you can meet the new headteacher, browse the facilities and meet some of the children, is the perfect way to show your child that it’s just like any other school and there is nothing to worry about.
Again, this all helps to build familiarity. When your child turns up for their first day, their ability to settle will be enhanced as they see places and faces that they are familiar with.
7. Have a proper goodbye
It’s tough to say goodbye, but make sure you put some time aside to say goodbye to their old school in a meaningful way. Hand out cards and thank you gifts and make arrangements to see their friends again.
Today, children can stay in touch easily online and remembering this can make saying goodbye a lot less painful.
Starting in a New School
Once the big day arrives, you need to shift your focus to how you’ll help your child settle into their new environment. Add these things to your to-do list and help your child hit the ground running.
1. Go in on the first day
To help extinguish those first day nerves, walk your child into the school and help them get settled. Speak to the teacher and let them know a little bit about your child. Raise any concerns and offer insight that might help them make your child’s transition into their new class easier.
2. Encourage after school activities
If there is one thing that will help your child settle in a new school more easily, it’s making friends. In class, their teacher will likely set up a buddy system, so they have someone to help show them the ropes in those first few weeks.
Elsewhere, it’s important to encourage your child to take other opportunities to get to know people. Mirror the hobbies and teams your child was a part of in their old school and let them bond with likeminded children in their new environment.
3. Host a play date
Once they begin to make friends and have settled in nicely, consider organising a play date. This is a great opportunity to build friendships outside of the formalities of school and gives you a chance to mix with some of your fellow parents.
4. Be patient
How long will it take for my child to be truly settled in their new school? You know your child best, but if they still have issues and concerns after six weeks or so, it may be worth mentioning to the school.
Children adapt to new things at different rates. Your first instinct should always be patience. Give it time and your child will no doubt love their new school as much as their old one.
Moving a Child from Public to Private School
Moving a child from a public school to a private school can bring its own questions, but the principles remain the same. Private schools tend to bring a number of key benefits, one of which is smaller classrooms. This can help your child get the support they need to settle.
Classes are more intimate; in larger class sizes, breakups into smaller groups can occur. Smaller classes also allow the teacher to spend more time one-to-one with each pupil. In the first few days of your child’s new school, a teacher has more flexibility to be on hand to help them integrate within the group.
Fewer children in school brings more opportunities to encourage stronger friendships. In private schools, children are encouraged to get to know one another, creating a community that contributes to a better learning environment.