Social-Emotional Learning (SEL): How to Help Your Child Transition to a New School
Change is inevitable and is very much part of life to grow. Nevertheless, many people, including children, resist change to fear the unknown and reluctant to get away from their comfort zone or familiarity. Changing or transiting from one school to another can be the most challenging moment in a child’s life. Transition to a new school can especially be very trying for an elementary school child. It is not easy to integrate and get used to new teachers, new environment, friends, and classroom, even to the friendliest child. As a parent, you must assure your nervous child that it will be okay and help them cope with the new environment.
Some students may feel lonely and out of place for several months in the new school because a new school often means a new home environment. Suppose your child is unable to cope with the new school. They may express discomfort by acting withdrawn, changing sleeping and eating patterns, dropping in school performance, and withdrawing from social activities. Older kids may struggle to cope with the new environment while also dealing with academic pressure. Fortunately, you can help your child cope and adjust effectively to the recent changes by following these tips.
PREPARE YOUR CHILD IN ADVANCE
Prepare your child in advance about the transfer to the new school. Let the child understand the reason behind the transfer and why it is essential to embrace the change. Give the child enough time to process the proposed change. Ensure your children by having an honest and open conversation and be ready to deal with any anxiety that may arise due to the shift of life. Ask the child about their feelings about the upcoming change and listen to their worries and concerns. After actively listening to your child, provide actionable advice and reassurance where necessary. While you may not alleviate all the anxiety and fear your child is going through, they will feel better to know that you understand their predicament.
MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
If there is something that your child is good at is picking up your reaction or perception towards a crisis or situation. If you want them to embrace change and quickly adapt to the new school, you will have a positive attitude. Focus more on the benefits of moving into the new school than on the drawbacks. Do not brush off their fear or concern, but encourage them by showing them that the move has more benefits than drawbacks. Speak more about the exciting aspects and opportunities, and be enthusiastic about them. Positivity will encourage them to be positive too.
INVOLVE THE CHILD IN MAJOR DECISION-MAKING
Let your child be involved in the transfer from the initial stage. Most of the children reject new schools because they were not involved in the transfer decision. Without control over decisions made over their life or environment, a child is bound to leave it or be anxious about it. Your child’s stress compounds when changes are done without their consent or involvement. You can handle such stress by giving them room to make choices and share views about their lives.
TALK TO THE CHILD
If there are many schools to choose from in the neighborhood, invite your child to visit them all and choose the one they find to be the best. If the school is beyond your capability regarding fees or other issues, let the child understand why they can’t enroll there. You can also involve your child in the transfer process by involving them in more minor roles such as picking uniforms and buying other school supplies. Any level of involvement in the transfer process will give your child confidence and more acceptance of the change.
TALK TO THE TEACHER
Talk to the teacher about any fear that your child could be going through. Explain how the transition might be affecting your child and determine the best way to handle the child. Ensure that you communicate to the teacher about your child’s unique feelings about this transition and other needs, such as allergies, special learning needs, or disabilities.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Let your child hold on to old memories and past friends. Encourage them to keep in touch with old school memories if that makes them feel better. Eventually, they will naturally detach themselves from them as they develop new relations in their new school.