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Helping Your Child Start a New School

The start of a new school year can be an exciting time, but for kids starting a new school, it can also be a time of anxiety. Whether your child is starting school for the first time, or you recently moved and have to switch schools, a new school can cause school-related separation anxiety or even school refusal.

You can help make your child’s transition to a new school easier with these six tips:

  1. Talk it up. List all the great things about your child’s new school, including special features that may be unique to the school. For example, a brand new science lab or a playground with lots of green space.
  2. Reassure. Let your child know that fear is completely normal and in fact many other children will be feeling exactly the same way on the first day of school. Knowing they're not alone will help ease any anxiety.
  3. Get Familiar. Learn as much as you can about the school and your child’s routine before the first day. Visit the school and walk around. Play on the playground and look in classrooms and the lunchroom. Attend the school’s open house to meet the teacher.
  4. Do a practice run. Walk or drive the route to school or the bus stop a few days before school starts. Have your child wake up at the time they will need to on a school day to get familiar with the new routine.
  5. Find Friends. Visit local parks or the library or ask around your neighborhood for kids who will be attending your child’s new school. Helping your child to meet other kids before school starts will give them some familiar faces to look forward to when school starts.
  6. Get Involved. Encourage your child to join clubs or sports teams, which can be a great way to make friends quickly at a new school. In addition, get involved at the school yourself, by volunteering or attending school events.

The first few weeks at a new school will be hard for even the most sociable child. Be patient and listen to your child’s concerns. Keep encouraging your child and stick to a routine. Before long, the new school will be like an old hat. If your child is still having trouble adjusting after several months, talk to the teachers and ask the school counselor for additional help.

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