Starting a new school after the long summer holidays can be a stressful time and cause varying degrees of anxiety for kids. Whether starting a new school because of relocation or the natural progression from primary to secondary school, or secondary school to further education, the worry can build up before they’re due to start.
In normal conditions this can be a concern for parents, but even more so right now. Children are already having to cope with the impact Coronavirus has had on their education and school experience but there may be even more far reaching consequences for kids due to start at a new school in the next school year. Lockdown restrictions have meant that the usual support available to prepare children for the next school year, or leaving school, has not been available to the extent we’re used to. Here’s some useful information on transitions from Mentally Healthy Schools
Top common worries kids have about starting a new school
losing old friends
discipline and detentions
Tips for preparing kids for a new school
Search around your school’s website to see if you can find a map of the school. You may find some useful information in the prospectus section on the website. Depending on circumstances your child’s new school may or may not be offering some form of school tour ahead of their first day. Make sure you keep an eye on all communications from your child’s current school and/or new school so you don’t miss out on this. It would also help to plan the journey in advance. If they’re walking or cycling to school, or if they need to take a bus, do a dry run with them (at the time they would need to be there) a couple of times before so they’ll know what they’re doing and how long it’s going to take them.
Losing old friends
Encourage your child to set up a communication group with their old friends so they can keep in touch. Some friends may be joining their new school whilst others may be off to other schools. Regardless of this they won’t be seeing as much of each other as they’re used to. If they set up a (closed) group on whatsapp, or messenger or something similar this will help them to support one another as they make the transition. They can even arrange to meet up out of school to keep in touch.
Discipline and detentions
It’s true that secondary school ramps up the rules from primary school. As kids grow up, they’re expected to take more responsibility for their behaviour and actions and secondary schools usually implement defined, codified rules and consequences. Once children are fully aware of these it’s unlikely to cause any issues but it can help to be informed before the new term starts. Take a look on your school’s website for codes of conduct, behaviour and policies. Have a chat with your child about these guidelines to make sure they understand the rules and consequences. This should prepare them well and put them at ease before they start.
It’s more usual now that primary schools give kids homework on a weekly basis, however this can vary between schools. Some children will be used to set weekly tasks based on key subjects such as English and Maths whereas others may be more long term project led tasks. Check your school’s website to have an understanding of what will be expected when they join.
This can be a concern for both children and parents and carers. A bigger school can mean a greater chance of dominant groups of children and group and individual hierarchies. There’s likely to be a section on the school’s website about their anti-bullying policies to give you and your child an understanding of how this tackled and what they can do if they do experience any form of bullying at school. It’s also a great idea to have a frank chat with your child about these issues and discuss what constitutes bullying behaviour. There’ s a difference between the expected disagreements between children and something more significant which needs attention. For useful information take a look at Bullying UK’s article on Bullying at School.
More tips on settling in to a new school
Join a school club to meet new friends
Introduce new and old friends
Get involved and give things a try
Try to be approachable, speak to new people even if you don’t feel confident