You’ve been through a lot with your elementary schooler — from that adorable first day of kindergarten, when you saw them off to class from just beyond the classroom door with tears in your eyes, to the class parties, teacher conferences, and field trips of first, second, third and fourth grades. Now that fifth grade is near, what if your child needs to change schools?
What is a parent to do? How do you keep their spirits up, ensure they adapt well, and most importantly thrive, when their world has seemingly been turned upside down? We’ve been through it, and we are here to help you change schools, too!
The year before middle school is already tough, but when a new job, changes at home, or other circumstance necessitates a move, sometimes you just have to make the best of it. To change schools isn’t always a bad thing, though. There are new opportunities, awesome new teachers, and even more opportunities to make friends. Help your child see the best of it with some of these tips, and change schools smoothly.
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Before You Change Schools, Check It Out Early
To help your child feel more comfortable in his or her new school, be sure to start off on the right foot. First, if possible, organize a family tour of the new school before you change schools. Ideally, this happens during a time when school is in session, so your child can see other kids enjoying their surroundings. We did this with our child, and he was able to meet the principal, guidance, counselor, librarian, gifted teacher, news crew club leader, and others on our tour alone. When we visited a full classroom, several kids smiled, waved, and talked to him as well. This enabled him to have several familiar faces when he actually arrived on campus on day one.
One of the best ways to help your child feel more comfortable in his or her new school once you change schools is by getting involved. Start by signing up for the PTA at the new school. You don’t necessarily have to take on a leadership role, just learn about the events happening at the school and volunteer where you can. There are often family nights at local restaurants, fundraisers, and other events that you will hear about at PTA before anywhere else.
You can also schedule a parent-teacher conference shortly after you change schools. We recommend bringing your child to this, so they can get to know the teacher, learn what is expected, and hear how they are doing and what they can improve on. This establishes lines of communication and a good relationship early. During this time, offer your time and assistance by volunteering in the classroom, requesting to attend field trips, etc. By attending classroom activities, your child will feel your involvement, and you may even make some new friends in the process.
Tame the Morning Madness
Another way to adjust to your child’s new school and schedule is by setting up a positive morning routine. Grab a new alarm clock to help your child get up on time. Make sure he or she eats a healthy breakfast. Allow plenty of time to pack a backpack, snacks, and water bottles to ensure they are fully prepared for the upcoming school day. It is often helpful to do this and lay out clothing the night before. These small steps will help them feel more prepared in the morning, and also reduce chaos during an already uncertain time.
Encourage Your Child to Get Involved
Another way to change schools more smoothly is to encourage your child to get involved in clubs, organizations, and programs that the school offers. These extracurricular activities are a great way to get acclimated to the new school, meet additional teachers, and continue to make new friends. It is often nice to have friends outside of their classroom. These are kids that can say hello at recess, and the lunch line or passing in the halls. Plus, if they are learning a new hobby together, this type of shared educational experience is great for additional bonding beyond just being a classroom buddy. They will have something in common and connect on a different level.
Communicate and Ask Questions
Be sure to talk to your child a lot before you change schools — well before, immediately before, during, and after. This will allow them to let you know if they are feeling uncomfortable, aren’t feeling welcome, aren’t making new friends, quickly enough, etc. it’s important for your child to share his or her thoughts and feelings about the new school and how things are going with you. Be sure to be a good listener, and you’ll gain deep insights into how things are really going.
Encourage Your Child to Try Something New
If your child was involved in clubs and activities at their prior school, it makes sense to explore the same options at the new school. After all, this is something they’re familiar with and will feel comfortable to them. However, the new school may offer new opportunities for sports, arts, clubs, and other activities that their prior school never even had available. This is an exciting time! Encourage them to try new things, learn and grow. They will not only make new friends, but feel their horizons open, and will learn wonderful skills that they can bring to middle school and beyond.
READ MORE: Tips For Changing Schools Mid-Year
When you change schools, it can be a daunting experience for any child – especially when they are near the end of their elementary education career. However, with love, support, and guidance from parents, as well as involvement and encouragement, this transition can be smoother than either of you expect. Just make sure to tour the school early, get involved, tame the morning madness, and communicate, and you will help your child change schools and make the most of his or her final year of elementary school and create lasting memories!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Change schools with ease, and then check out these 15 Fun & Exciting Self-Care Ideas For Mama As The Children Return To School. After all, you deserve it!
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