21 May, 2024

Parents guide for supporting children during school transitions

School transition Compass International School

Importance of parental involvement

Transitioning from one school to another can be a challenging time for both parents and children. Whether it’s moving to another school in the same city or moving to a new country, parents need to prepare their children and provide support and guidance throughout the transition process. Research on transitions in education emphasises the significance of a smooth and well-planned shift to ensure the child's emotional well-being and academic success. A strong family unit and a well-orchestrated move will have a positive impact on children’s wellbeing. Here is a guide for parents to navigate this crucial period:

Start an open communication

Start by having open and honest conversations with your child about the upcoming transition. Encourage them to express their feelings, concerns, and expectations about the new school. Listen attentively to their thoughts and address any worries they may have. If possible, arrange a visit to the new school with your child before the transition. Familiarise yourselves with the school, meet the teachers, and explore the facilities. This will help ease any anxiety and allow your child to feel more comfortable in their new environment. Ask the school about their transition process and how they assist new students and families. 


Parents guide for supporting children during school transitions - Parents guide for supporting children during school transitions


Encouraging social connections and ensuring comfort

The biggest sense of loss and worry when moving is friendship groups. Losing good friends, often family friends, and having to start over again. Children worry about whether or not they will fit in or their teacher will like them.  Encourage your child to get involved in extracurricular activities or clubs at the new school. This will help them make new friends, build relationships with peers, and feel integrated into the school community. Make sure your child has a class buddy to help them get used to school routines and support them with the change. Join the school’s parent group so that you meet new families and encourage play dates and social outings to build relationships. Keep in touch with friends from their last school. A weekly call, WhatsApp messages, or Zoom call will help with the adjustment and let them share their experiences. Their friends will miss them too! 

As a parent, your optimism and positive outlook can greatly influence your child's perception of the transition. You may be apprehensive yourself but stay positive about the change and highlight the exciting opportunities that lie ahead at the new school. Often parents transfer their anxiety to their children without realising it. Anxiety about a new job, finding a new place to live, selecting a school or navigating immigration hurdles can be stressful for everyone.  If you show that you are not happy in a new environment or feel apprehensive about a move to another country, your child will reflect this. 


Preparing your child for curriculum changes

Research has shown that one of the biggest concerns students have is whether or not they will be able to cope with the curriculum. Often, it is not in their native language and presents a linguistic challenge in addition to the factors listed above. Assist your child in preparing academically for the transition.  Encourage them to stay focused on their studies during this period of change and if changing curriculum, introduce some examples of subject content to build confidence. Establishing a routine can provide structure and stability for your child during the transition. Set up a schedule for studying, completing homework, and engaging in extracurricular activities to maintain a sense of normalcy amidst the change. Ask the school to recommend some prior reading, website content, or activities that will help with the transition. 

Acknowledge that the transition process can be overwhelming for both you and your child. Seek support from other parents, school counsellors, or support groups to share experiences and seek guidance on navigating the transition effectively. Encourage your child to take ownership of their transition process. Allow them to make decisions regarding school choices, extracurricular activities, and social interactions, empowering them to become more independent in their new environment.


Guiding your child through emotional support

Be attentive to your child's emotional well-being during the transition. Validate their feelings of apprehension or excitement and provide a safe space for them to express their emotions freely. If they are struggling, ask the school to refer them to the counsellor for reassurance. Celebrate small victories and milestones during the transition process. Recognise and applaud your child's resilience, adaptability, and courage as they navigate this new chapter in their academic journey.

Finally, research on educational transitions highlights the importance of parental involvement, emotional support, and effective communication in facilitating a smooth and successful shift to a new school. By implementing these strategies and supporting your child through this transition, you can help them navigate this period of change with confidence and resilience.

Ann Djedid

Head of Themaid Campus


Further reading
"Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child: Practical Tips and Storytelling Techniques That Will Strengthen the Global Family" by Julia Simens - This resource focuses on building emotional resilience in Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and offers practical strategies for parents and educators to support TCKs through transitions and challenges.

“Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds" by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken - This  book explores the experiences of Third Culture Kids, their unique challenges, and strategies for success in a multicultural world.

"Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World" by Homa Sabet Tavangar - This book provides valuable insights and practical advice for parents raising globally-minded children, including TCKs.