For a child, going to a new school where they don’t know anyone is intimidating and a big adjustment. Most children experience emotions they don’t fully know how to process and the result is often a period of frustration, confusion, and loneliness.
The reason why many children move to a new school is usually because of their parents. In a lot of cases, the parents may have decided to move to a new house, or one of the parents may have gotten a relocation offer on their job. For the latter case, a corporate relocation often involves moving to a brand new city. This process can be challenging, but there are professional school relocation services to make it easier to settle down.
Fortunately, there’s a lot that parents can do to help children cope with moving to a new school – regardless of their age. Below are the nine ways on how to cope with moving to a new school:
1. Try to Cope
The first piece of advice we can give on how to cope with moving to a new school is to commit to trying. Invest your effort in learning and getting good grades. Set goals for yourself. These don’t have to be academic.
If you don’t meet new people easily, commit to signing up for an after-school activity at least once a week. ‘Trying’ goes a long way in keeping yourself focused on yourself and moving forward rather than on any nervousness you may be feeling.
Moving to a new school doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye forever to past friends. Connecting over social media is the next best thing. Ensure a child has their friends’ social networks, phone numbers, and email addresses. Distance is distance. That’s all it is. There are still plenty of ways to keep in touch, including over Skype, Zoom, and other video tools.
3. Make a School Routine
A routine can be as simple as waking up at a certain time or having dinner at a certain hour. It doesn’t need to be more rigid than that. What a routine does is accentuate normality. It gives a child the knowledge that no matter where they are, they have their routine at home to come back to.
A routine also gives a child something to look forward to. To this point, ensure the routine is something a child wants to actually participate in.
4. Recognize Emotions
When we feel more in control, things are easier. When we understand why we feel how we feel, it helps. From a child’s perspective, ensure they have the space to verbalize their emotions. Whether it’s positive or negative, self-expression is powerful. As a parent, explain to your child motivations for moving.
Your child doesn’t need to tell you what they are thinking but it’s very important to ask and ensure they have the opportunity to express what they need to express.
5. Think Optimistically
Regardless of how familiar one is with their school, there are going to be good and bad days. Inside a new school, the bad days are going to feel heightened. Try to stick with positive and optimistic thinking. It does make a difference. Even if you’re naturally someone who isn’t always looking on the bright side, if you can communicate to your child a sense of optimism, it can transfer.
6. Don’t Give Up Your Identity
A person of any age has a certain identity based off what they like to do with their free time. Assuming your child has an interest or hobby of some kind, ensure they stick with it. If they’re a musician or play sports, ensure they are enrolled where they need to be to continue on this path.
Identity-building activities boost self-esteem and may also help them meet others in the community. The last thing you want to do is take away another part of their identity, away from the friends and things they are having to leave behind to go to a new school.
7. Ensure They’re Fed
This may seem incredibly silly to some but think of the way we behave when we’re underfed. Nowhere does it make anyone better. All of the anxieties and frustrations of adapting to an unfamiliar school can be better managed internally and subconsciously when a child is well-fed. Though you don’t want them overeating, pay attention to warning signs such as skipping meals or any sort of change in their eating routine.
8. Put Them into Situations Where Making New Friends is Easy
No child is an island. Even for children who aren’t very social, putting them in group dynamics where they have to interact with others can lead to making new friends. If a child misses friends they used to have, finding a new friend group with similar interests to their own can aid in coping.
That said, they don’t want to chase activities or friend groups that they aren’t interested in. Be patient. Making good friends doesn’t happen overnight. To any child, know your future best friend could be the person seated next to you or someone you least expect.
9. Be Yourself
Above all this, don’t forget to be yourself. Things at a new school may be different. It’s unlikely you’re not going to want to compare it to the way things were. Amidst everything that you’re feeling, the last thing you want to change is you. Be you. Do the things that make you happy. You’ll feel more comfortable in your new surroundings if you’re honest in who you are.