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How can I help my child prepare for a new school?

Michele Borba
Psychology
Here are ways to help your child feel more secure about a new school or transition:
  • Visit the school. A few days before the big send off, take your child for a tour so he can find key places like his classroom, playground, school office, cafeteria, water fountain, lockers, and restroom. A large campus can be intimidating even to an adolescent -- especially if your teen has multiple classes in different locations so anticipate or identify those spots on his "worry list" and make sure he visits those.
  • Take an online tour. Many schools have websites that give online tours that show not only the school layout but also what the students look and dress like.
  • Print a map and schedule. Obtain a map of the school (go online) and print out his class schedule. Then help your child walk that campus until he feels secure.
  • Get a school handbook. The more your child is aware of school rules and rituals the more comfortable he'll be. Check the school's website or stop by the school or district office and ask for a school handbook. Then review those rules and schedule with your child. In particular, find out the dress code, bell schedule, school rules as well as the name of the mascot, school motto and colors, and any song.
  • Find a buddy and teach how to "fit in." Knowing just one classmate can minimize first day jitters so help your kid learn the name of at least one peer. The two kids don't have to become soul mates -- just acquaintances!

Starting at a new school can be as stressful for kids as the first day at a new job can be for grownups. In this video, psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein discusses ways you can make the transition to a new school easier for your child. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.