The New Kid In School: How to Help Your Child Adjust

By the time I was in grade three, I was already attending my third school. We weren’t a military family. My parents moved a lot due to life or financial circumstances. I swore that when I had children I would never do that to them ….. never tempt fate to question you, because it certainly will.

After living in our house for seven years and due to life and financial circumstances, this past July saw our family move from just outside Toronto to small town Saskatchewan. Our daughter was not amused that she would have to start grade six in a new school with no familiarity of her Ontario friends or teachers.

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My husband and I both have backgrounds in social services and we sometimes over analyze how we parent. It’s the bane of our daughter’s existence. She is probably the only 11 year old that understands the concept of ‘motivational interviewing’. However, we knew we had dig deep into our brains and figure out how to ease her anxiety of starting fresh. We wanted her to feel ‘familiar’.

Visit the school before school starts. We made an appointment before school started with the principal to finish enrolling her and take a tour. Hopefully knowing where her class will be, where the washrooms are, and where she can get access to the nearest escape routes will help ease her into a new school life.

Find a friend. The last time I spoke with the principal I asked if they had a buddy program. The principal replied he would speak to her teacher and match her up with someone. That may take some additional fright out of the first day.

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Play on the school grounds. We also have been taking her to the school playground. It’s a way to further introduce her to her surroundings making it not feel so new and isolating. Already another student popped out of a backyard and played with her.

Sign up for summer camps. Through the above and the camps we’ve signed her up for she has had the opportunity to play with kids her own age here. She’s met a couple kids who will be going to her school.

We’ve been encouraging her to remember the new events she has enjoyed in the past. The first time she slept overnight at a camp, (trust me, this was a doozy of an issue for her – she loves her bed), the first time she went swimming and the first time she made a friend herself. We tell her to recall things that seemed scary, but after weren’t so bad.

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Keep communication lines open. Our daughter has also expressed an interest in blogging. She wanted to reach out to other kids in the same boat. If she can make it through this, maybe they can too. We researched child bloggers and made the decision to allow her this avenue of expression. It’s a way for the dialogue to flow between us as a family and communicate about any issues that crop up. For us, communication is so important during this type of transition…or any issue really. You can find her thoughts at Press with Jess.

When school starts, we definitely will be her teachers’ best friend. We also need to be able to communicate with her teacher. Our children have a different life inside of school. One that we’re not really a part of. I’m sure most of us have questioned our children about what they did that day and they responded “I forget”. Teachers are there to work with us as parents. We are going to use this to our advantage so our daughter has a great start.

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Lastly, we’ve been patient and will continue to be so. It’s tough what’s she’s going through. I know there are times where she hates us for moving her. She’s a tween and we messed up her world. I get it – I miss home too and hope we can go back in the future. The first few weeks of school are probably going to have moments that will have us both crying.

Everything we’ve done might not work. Every kid and situation is different. But with love, talking and laughter, we’ll get through it.

Have you moved your child to a new city to start at a new school? Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment below.

Found in Back to School, Parenting

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Holly Goodman Holly Goodman Aug 27, 2013, 10:32 pm

    Hello Vera,

    While I don’t have children I am a child that moved a lot and have continued to do so in my adult life (until now). I just wanted to reassure you that it will get better and things will get easier. Soon your daughter will see the value in moving and having to meet new people – it is a life skill that she will be grateful for later on in life. It will make her more adaptable and flexible, which are key attributes in our fast changing environment. The fact that she is blogging her thoughts and wants to help others is already an amazing thing! Not a lot of kids would do that – so rest assured in my opinion you are doing all the right things and Jessica will be a more well-rounded individual because of the move :) And hey – at least she has two great parents!


    • Vera Orsini vera Aug 28, 2013, 11:27 am

      Thank you!!! Hopefully soon she’ll see the benefits of life skills LOL. The only reason we’re great parents is because she is an exceptional kid ;)

  • Avatar Janelle Aug 27, 2013, 7:19 pm

    What a fantastic article! Your daughter is so lucky to have such thoughtful and caring parents!

    • Vera Orsini vera Aug 27, 2013, 10:00 pm

      Thank you for commenting :) Some days we are awesome … some days not so much ;)

  • Avatar Jacki Aug 27, 2013, 1:12 pm

    Our kids are starting at a new school next week. Thank for the helpful article. We didn’t move cities, but the stresses are very similar. Going to the school’s fun fair in the spring was very helpful to us. The kids are feeling much more comfortable.

    • Vera Orsini vera Aug 27, 2013, 7:37 pm

      What an awesome way to get in the groove of a new school :) A fair – fun, food and they get to scope out the joint too!!!