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The first step in preparing your child to attend a new school is recognizing the fact that any big change, even if it’s ultimately a good change, can create stress. Talk to your child about the new school and allow him or her to express feelings and concerns. Don’t be too quick to say, “There’s nothing to worry about.” Instead, talk through concerns with your children and help them find ways to alleviate fears.
One good way to ease some of the fear about attending a new school is to help children become more familiar with the surroundings. Visit the school, and while you’re en route, point out landmarks so they will be familiar as your child passes them on the bus or in the car each morning. When you arrive at the new school, take a tour.
Spend a good deal of time exploring the playground, the hallways, and your child’s classroom. Help your youngster find his or her way around the new school, pointing out the library, the music room, the lunch room, the gym, and the office. Your son or daughter might even enjoy creating a map of the new school for easy reference.
It is also important to introduce your little one to as many people as possible, from the principal of the new school to coaches and other staff members they are likely to come into contact with, such as the school nurse. It is especially important that your child meet his or her main teacher. If possible, it is also helpful to introduce your son or daughter to some of the other children.
If your child already knows children who attend the new school, try to schedule an outing or two with those kids before school starts. Boys and girls are less anxious if they know someone else and do not feel like complete strangers. Also, work with your child to overcome shyness and to reach out to others to make new friends.
A new school can seem a bit intimidating, but it can also be very exciting. Stress the positive aspects, such as trying out for sports and making new friends. Your help and encouragement can certainly make the transition to a new school much easier.