Starting at a new school can be both exciting and scary for children–yes, even the boldest and brashest of them. Having to adjust to new teachers, friends, environments, expectations can get pretty overwhelming.
Whether your child is making the shift from their comforts of preschool to Primary 1, or graduating from his primary school after PSLE to the wider world of secondary school life, or even making the transition from secondary school to higher education – there’s lots for him to process.
As a parent, there are definitely some things you can do to help ease your child into his new school environment. Here are five things that may help!
1. Validate your child’s feelings
It's crucial that you don't brush his anxieties and emotions aside, downplaying them in your bid to comfort him. Instead, acknowledge what he feels and encourage him to express these feelings in words. As he talks about his worries, walk him through his anxieties and reassure him that it is normal to be anxious but also that you will be there to support him at every step of his new journey. Check in with him constantly, because his fears aren’t going to magically disappear overnight. It’s a process that he will have to undergo with you by his side, cheering him on.
2. Support your child’s learning
Your child may be worried about the differences in learning expectations or styles in the new school. As his parent, it is your job to help him find out about the gaps and differences before discussing with him what needs to be done to bridge the learning gaps. You may even make arrangements to meet his new teachers before making the switch, to discuss your child's learning needs and also address any concerns you may have for your child, going into a new school.
3. Get involved in the school community
The best way to overcome the new school jitters is to jump head-first into community life and get involved with the parents, teachers and other staff of the school. Spend some time volunteering and helping out at school events, or participate in parent-child opportunities whenever possible. Setting this example would help your child make some headway in getting started in his own involvement with the school community, since he would have mum and dad as his great role model!
4. Stay connected with your child
It's especially important to be connected with your child during this time of transition to help him ease into his new school environment. It's uncomfortable to be thrust in an unfamiliar spot so make time to give him extra cuddles before and after school, write notes of encouragement to put into his lunch box, or drop him a sweet message on his phone in the middle of the day, for older children.
5. Maintain a stable home routine
Having a familiar routine to return home to would help a lot to anchor him and keep him centred and calm in the midst of big changes in school. Try to fix a family breakfast or dinner every day as routine, which will go a long way in helping your child feel secure and supported by the family in his new school! Encourage him to go to bed at a fixed time daily too, with a soothing bedtime routine that he can look forward to. These little points of stability add up and help your child feel grounded and ready to tackle the new school with confidence and a smile.