Moving With Kids Part Three: Preparing For a New School

Moving homes is one thing — starting a new school with new teachers, friends, activities, and schedules is another. We’ve gathered some expert advice and formed it into do’s and don’t’s to help your child have the easiest possible transition into their new learning environment.

Do help her break the ice.

Get a class list from the school office and arrange some playdates with your child’s new classmates. Once school’s in session, stay involved. Michelle Gwin, from Durham, North Carolina, did some social networking for her 6-year old daughter when they moved: “I volunteered to help with class trips and other special days — it meant I met other parents and was able to set up more playdates for Mackenzie.”

Don’t wait until the school year starts to get informed.

Inquire about the curriculum, lunch program, and after-school activities so you can help your child get excited about going to school. “You can even plan the route you’ll be taking,” suggests child psychologist Anita Gurian, Ph.D., executive editor of AboutOurKids.org.

  • Are there sports teams or activities you can sign your child up for before school begins?
  • Is there a fun new art class your child hasn’t been offered before?
  • Can you walk to school as a family when the weather is nice?
  • Will they like the hot food menu or will you pick out a new lunchbox in their favorite colors to bring meals from home?

Do take a tour of the building.

If you move during summer vacation, your child’s new school may have a “meet the teacher” session before the school year starts. “If you enroll during the middle of the semester, ask if an older kid can show you around,” suggests Jane Winn, a guidance counselor at Taylor Ranch Elementary, in Venice, Florida. 

Having a feel for the building before their first day can calm your child’s nerves and get them excited about starting their education in a new place.

Don’t let your child stay home all summer.

See whether your child’s school offers day camp; if not, check at the library for info on local camps. It will give him or her a chance to meet some classmates before school starts. 

You can also:

  • Take family walks or bike rides around the neighborhood to meet other families with children and make connections for both local playdates and school day friends at the same time.
  • Head out to family-friendly events or attractions like county fairs, playgrounds, and pools to meet other kids who may be enrolled in the same school.

All in all, it’s important to get acquainted with the school and be involved in activities as soon as possible. The more connections and guidance your child has, the easier this exciting change will be!

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