Starting a new school can be exciting and frightening for both parent and child. There are so many unknowns when it comes time to start a new school. Parents are often anxious about how their students will handle the change and adjust to the new environment. Students may struggle to overcome the fear of the unknown when starting a new school. As a parent, you want to make the transition as easy as possible for both you and your student. The key to easing the transition into a new school is to establish realistic expectations for both yourself and your child. A few steps before the first day at a new school can help make the entire process easier and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Learn as much as you can about the new school
What was your process for choosing your child’s new school? Did you know right away that you found the right program? Did you engage in extensive research before finally deciding on this new school? Learning as much as you can about the new school will help you establish expectations in yourself and your child. For example, if your child is moving from a public program to a Montessori school, the classroom will look a lot different. Your child will move to different stations throughout the day instead of sitting at an individual desk. Providing your child with an accurate expectation about the classroom environment will make the transition easier.
The underlying educational philosophy of a Montessori program is very different from public school. Understanding those differences will help you as a parent know what to expect from this new school. For example, in the Montessori classroom, student progress is most commonly assessed by teacher observation. You will not see a lot of worksheets or tests come home with your child. If you know to expect those things, it will help you avoid stress and concern about the amount of paperwork your child does or does not bring home.
If possible, schedule a time to observe a new school class before your child’s first day. Class observation is an important part of establishing the correct expectations for both yourself and your child. When you see how the classroom is set up and how the teacher runs the class, it will help you envision your child in that environment and let him or her know what to expect.
Expect a time of transition
A big change like starting a new school is going to come with a transitional period. Change can be difficult – even when it is good change. If you expect a time of transition for yourself and your child, it can help prevent you from feeling overly concerned. It takes time to get used to a new place, new routine, new teacher, and new friends. Stay in touch with your child’s teacher during this transitional period to find out if there is anything you can do at home to make the process go more smoothly.
Starting at a new school can represent a new start for many wonderful things. There are so many possibilities for both you and your child in this situation. Starting the process with the right expectations will help you and your child focus on all possibilities instead of the unknowns. The right expectations and a little bit of time will help both you and your child settle into the new school.