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11 tips for adjusting to a new school

Make your child's first day easier by getting organized and staying positive.

By GreatSchools Staff

Whether your child is moving to a new neighborhood or making the leap to middle or high school, the first few weeks may be filled with anxiety as well as excitement. These 11 tips will help your child make a smooth transition to his or her new school.

1. Make it a team effort.

If you're choosing between a few schools, talk with your child about what each one has to offer. When it comes time to select specific classes, make sure your child is part of the process.

2. Keep a positive focus. 

As the first day draws near, begin talking to your child about her expectations, hopes, and fears for the upcoming school year. Reassure her that other children are having the same feelings and that she's sure to have a great year. Present school as a place where she'll learn new things and make friends.

3. Encourage school involvement. 

Though you don't want your teenager to become over-committed, it's important to encourage participation in one or two activities that particularly interest him. He's more likely to engaged academically if he feels connected through a school activity, club, or sport. Talk to him about his goals for the school year and how he might like to be involved in school outside of the classroom.

4. Get enough z's. 

If your child has enjoyed a vacation of late nights and lazy mornings, getting him up for school on the first day can be difficult. Help make this transition easier by starting his school-year sleep routine a week or two in advance.

5. Take a trial run. 

Take some time before the start of school to make sure you and your child know where to go and what to do on that first morning. Show your child where the bus stop is, or, if she walks, map out the safest route to school, avoiding vacant lots and places where there aren't a lot of people. Warn your child to always walk with a friend and scout out safe houses to go to in case of emergency. If you can find out what classroom your child will be in, visit the classroom ahead of time so she knows exactly where to go in the morning. You may even want to call the school in advance to find out about any special first-day procedures.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

05/9/2012:
"this can help "
02/13/2012:
"Great thanks! "
08/24/2011:
"Good tips and info to take into the account at the moment our students start classes. thanks a lot "
08/23/2010:
"To those rising 8th and 9th graders; you are correct and I value your detailed notations that much of these discussions were focused on younger children. Good point. I am no expert and definately, probably don't know the first thing of what I am stating. All I know is you are not alone. I am a parent now; but I do know I was in your shoes as a rising 8th or 9th grader or even a rising 7th grader. I was a very shy person or maybe I just didn't feel like talking. I moved from Arlington, VA to Stafford, VA as a rising 6th grader. Worst element of my life! I had already made friends in Arlington, VA and liked the school I was going to. I was extremely comfortable and beginning to like life. Then we had to move. I hated; still hate Stafford, VA. I did not talk to anyone and I refused to come out of my shell. Okay, probably thinking this is not going anywhere. This is how I broke my own shyness. If you are a rising 7th; 8th or 9th grader; find a part time job. This is probably the best tool to break out of shyness. In a working world; we are all faced to communicate. It will take time; yet many employers are patient as long as you do the work and you don't be high maintenance employee. By talking to fellow employees and internal and external customers; you will soon feel more confident in yourself and believe it or not; your self-estem will jump from -0 to 100 in no time. Picture this: Let's say you are delivering papers; or you are babysitting; or cutting grass; or maybe helping mom or dad at their job. Okay at the end of your day or end of the task that was given to you and someone comes up to you and states 'good job, thanks, you are good kid!' Keep up the good work'. You in turn may blush and say thanks, or may just say thanks and wonder why you were even recognized. This is a small example of communication. Practicing communication outside of school can be an altiimate ticket of breaking away from shyness. As you continue to communicate with your fellow co-workers and employers and customers; you will soon learn to communicate effectively. As you gain confidence in yourself; you will then be able to start talking to your fellow students; which turn into friends. This above may seem all wierd and completely confusing; try it! This is coming from a shy person at your age and no one sat down and gave me the guidelines of breaking out of my shyness. "
11/2/2009:
"My son is a junior in a new school and district came from a very small district only 3 elementary 1 middle and 1 high been in that system since 4th grade now in new system and the high school is rural area as most kids in the system have poss goge to school for ever . My son is shy very shy and I just found out tonight that he has not bonded or made any friends when I mentions getting involved in clubs or such its like I have sucked the wind out of him . Please some one I as a single mom of a child with a broken lonely heart needs guidance on ovver coming the shyness so as to blossom at home I have the funnest next comic but out there just a sad little boy!"
09/10/2009:
"My daughter who is 11yrs old just started in a new school. She is painfully shy, because of that she doesn't meet friends easily. It pains my heart to see her cry, because she feels so all alone. What can i do?"
08/26/2009:
"im so scared i moved to another state and i have only been here once to look for a house and this article did not help me i dont now what to do and i dont make friends easy cause im shy and i will know no one. plus u have every class everyday and thats 7 pierods!!! before i only had 5 pierods a day. help please!!!!"
08/24/2009:
"I think the best thing for a person to do when going into a new school is relax. I know it's easier said then done but all the other kids there are just like you....afraid. I have been out of school now for seven years. I was the same way scared and wanted to get right back on that bus and go back home to my mom. Relax guys by the end of the day you will have at least three new friends to go through this with tomorrow."
08/24/2009:
"okayyyy, this article is only suitable for kids in elementary. i am a high school student and let me say, NONE of this tips will actually help kids in high school and middle school. The person who wrote this acticle has to see this sfrom the high school and middle school point of view b/c this article is just maily focus on elementary and naive kids"
08/24/2009:
"last year i moved from london to a school in philadelphia where the work was MUCH harder. not to mention i was going into 7th grade, which in my opinion is a terrible time to move a child's school, let alone half way across the world. it was very hard but i pulled through and will be starting 8th grade in the same school this year! moving sucks. its hard on academics and its hard socially. but you just need to take it one day at a time. thats what i did. hope this helps :)"
08/18/2009:
"hi im going to a new school and a new neighbor hood im going into fith grade but these tips stilll dont help me please i need help"
08/18/2009:
"What i would do is eat a good breakfast and get the right school supplies so i can have a great time at my new middle school because i am moving on to 6th grade and was very scared. I am not so scared now that i thought of this things and i looking to a great school year and i will make lots of friends this year.!!!!"
08/11/2009:
"For little ones, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn is wonderful story about a little raccoon getting ready to start school. He talks about his fears and worries to his mother and she comes up with a sweet and simple way to help him remember that she loves him and is always thinking about him, even when she's not with him. Great read!"
08/11/2009:
"Hi I'm going to middle school and I'm really scared but some of my friends are going to be in my class. "
08/11/2009:
"bad bad bad bad bad "
08/11/2009:
"useless"
08/11/2009:
"Well this helps for pre-k through 5th grade i.e little kids.That transition from 6th to 7th grade is much more than expectations and triel runs!"
08/3/2009:
"oh pish posh, this is a lame article. kids will adjust eventually, they kind of have to. they will make friends and find their place. it most likely won't happen immediately, it takes time. just tell your kids to be patient."
08/3/2009:
"Hi, Like to have article about, 'How to behave on the School Bus'!!! Bus Driver"
08/3/2009:
"I am going to a high school and i am so nervous becasue that school starts from 6th grade and to -12th so i think that pretty much everybody knows each other over there. I am also nervous because the previous school i have been there since pre-k so this is my fisrt time going to a new school. also i already went to the summer school but i liked it its just that every morning when the bus drops us of our bus is like the second one so i have to wait outside and i see people already with others laughing and having fun so i feel left out because my best firend since pre-k is not going to the same school as i am. by: very sad person :.("
08/3/2009:
"I think that , this is important information to know. Can more info be posted for back to school. There wasn't much tips. "
07/21/2009:
"why were there questions on your survey regarding the current president's handling of the school system? How is that used by you? Thaanks!"
07/21/2009:
"What kind of advice is this? I dont know of anyone who would even follow these ridiculous tips. Parents are too overprotective and meddling these days. And who uses the word 'educative'? I think 'educational' would suffice."
07/7/2009:
"It would be nice to read an article by someone who knows how to use the words 'between' and 'among' properly. Point #1: People make choices 'between' options not 'among' them."
05/5/2009:
"thanks that is great help"
01/2/2009:
"My daughter will be moving into a public school and she is used to private schools. She is nervous that she will not be able to fit in because she is not used to the way public schools are. Any advice?"
07/30/2008:
"Getting your child involved in a sport, such as soccer, which runs concurrent with most new school years, will definately help facilitate friendships for both the children and parents when moving to a new area. I have personal experience with this and highly reccomend the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) because they encourage children from the age of 4 - 19 to participate regardless of experience or lack thereof. When soccer season is over, little league baseball begins. Get your children involved in the new area you reside and they will build new relationships with children in their new schools. A quick interenet search should answer any questions."
07/29/2008:
"I would like some tips on going to a whole new town and new school entirely!"
07/22/2008:
"I would be nice to have some tips for children entering kindergarten"
04/7/2008:
"This article is informative and educative. Thank you."
01/17/2008:
"Pretty good tips! Helped us better prepare for middle school!"
10/25/2007:
"I am just a 11 year old boy.All these tips are good because some kids have problems in school.I sometimes have problems in school but i try stay in class .I try my best to LISTEN,RESPECT and WORK HARD.I WILL DO THEESE TIPS!!!"
09/20/2007:
"Parents with children with add should try this site-www.addinschool.com. Their suggestions should apply to your child. The first days of school are challenging for any kindergartener, especially active children. Give it some time, discover their needs and most will adjust soon enough. Some children are better off starting in first grade, while some could use the structure learned in preschool. If a child is bored because the work isn't challenging, a portion of the day, such as some center time might be spent in a higher grade. For children with add time needed away could be 15 min. or so walking, learning with computer games, (for energy release) and other suggestions mentioned in the site. Try to be selective about tv programming. Also intensify reward system and try reverse rewards. Maybe have a reward before him, and let it await him at the end of each activity. Give ample notice before changing activities. Work with his teacher. Ask the teacher if there are cues to mi! sbehavior and ask what's worked in the past. When initial needs are met it's still all about keeping up and staying involved."
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