Take these basic steps to help your child get off to a great start in the new school year:
--Help your student get organized using planners, schedules and assignment books.
--Help your child set daily goals by keeping track of classroom lessons and upcoming assignments and tests.
--Be consistent with specific study and homework times; stay informed about the curriculum and school regulations.
--Encourage communication between you and your child, and really listen to what is said and not said.
--Support your child. Reach out to teachers and counselors for young children, and encourage older children to speak with teachers/counselors on their own.
--Listen to your child's dream for the future, and encourage appropriate studies toward that goal.
The beginning of any new school year can be stressful for a student, but that angst is increased when the first day takes place at a new school. If the school change is simply part of the normal progression of advancing through grades, there will most likely be several familiar faces in the classroom, even if the teachers and faculty are different.
Make sure that both you and your child understand any changes in school policies from the old school. If your child has specific needs (health, emotional or learning), it is a good idea to send a letter of introduction to the teacher and the administration. Most documented special needs should already be part of the school records that transfer in with the student, but it's wise to send a letter, just in case. This is especially true for younger children.
Sometimes a child will change schools for reasons other than the typical progression -- for example, to enroll in a specialized academic program, such as International Baccalaureate; to attend a parochial school; to have access to special needs programming; to avoid bullying; or redistricting. In such instances, the child may feel alone and isolated without her usual classmates surrounding her. Parents should reassure the child that the change is not punitive, that it is in her best interests and is an opportunity to make new friends. If the child's residence hasn't changed, then she could be reminded that old friends are still available after school. Encouragement from parents is important in helping to bolster the child's confidence to safeguard a positive experience.
*What About Relocation?
Children who experience a complete change of environment from relocation may have a rough time assimilating themselves into both their new digs and their new school. They have left familiarity behind, have lost old friendships and are facing new schools that may or may not be on a par with their old ones. Young children may have more difficulty adjusting, because they may have only recently gotten used to spending time at school without Mommy and Daddy hovering over them. Prepare for the possibility of placement testing, as different school systems may have different syllabuses. Then help your child familiarize himself with new required studies for his grade level.
A lot of preparing your child for a new school may depend on the reason for the relocation, the availability of support beyond the immediate household (perhaps grandparents are available), access to communications with old friends and the parents' attitudes about the move. Because many friendships are formed in the classroom, it would be ideal if the move were accomplished just before a new school year so that there isn't a lot of lonely time adjusting to the new environment. Teachers could be helpful allies in introducing the new student and making him feel welcome in the classroom.
If the reason for the move was a career opportunity, then the parents should promote the positive changes this new move will bring. Military families can move as often as every two years and do not have control over destinations. When the move is out of country, children will also have to cope with cultural differences. Large organizations and the military often have networks available to help families ease into the new setting. Using the internet and travel guides can help familiarize the child with where the family will be moving; an actual visit to the new location could be a fun exploration for each family member and can help relieve overall worry.