A new school year is right around the corner and I remember how much time and effort was spent getting ready for that first day of school. Long lists of what needed do be done, getting new clothes, lunch boxes, backpacks, and school supplies. Then moving on to logistics – car pool schedules, bus passes and after school arrangements.
This is the practical part of getting kids ready to go back to school. It's also important to help prepare kids who are transitioning to a new school. This could be from kindergarten to first grade, elementary school to middle school, or middle school to high school. Transitioning to a new school can be difficult for kids of all ages. This can be especially challenging for middle school and high school students.
Each transition requires doing something different and being in an unfamiliar setting. Moving into first grade requires more attention, longer days and usually larger classrooms. Middle school is the beginning of having to figure things out for yourself. It can be a little scary just finding your way around, remembering locker combinations (I still have dreams about this one) and being in the youngest group again. High school can be challenging for many adolescents. They are no longer kids but not quite adults. This is the beginning of independence and a higher level of expectation and responsibility is required.
Here are a few tips to make the transition easier:
1. Talk to your kids about their concerns and expectations in their new environment and what you can do to help them feel better.
2. Visit the new school before classes begin and help them get familiar with the layout. For younger children, show them where they will be picked up, talk about their schedule and what might be different in their daily routine.
3. Help them get organized before the first day of school. Establish after school routines to get homework done. Create a balance between academics, social life and after school activities. Everyone handles change better when they are well rested.
4. If you have any concerns about how your child is coping, talk with fellow parents and teachers. The teachers have been down this road before and other parents will certainly understand what you're going through.
Growing pains are a part of growing up and cannot be avoided all together. Help your kids through their challenges but also allow them to develop their own coping skills and how to find solutions.