My son started a new school on Tuesday and I’ve got to admit – I was a bit apprehensive. Would he like his new teacher? Would we? Would the children be well-behaved or would they be rowdy? Would he be safe?
Will they cater to his educational, emotional, physical and social needs? Will he flourish in the environment, or will he just “get by”? Yes, as parents we did our research. We checked out the place but how do we know we made the right choice?
Any change in environment can be scary for your child whether they are just going to preschool or they are off to university. The first few weeks or even months will be a period of adjustment for both you and her. So what can we expect in this new phase?
1. Tears: Don’t be surprised if your child or yourself or both tears up on the first day of school. Accept your emotion and that of your child. Don’t let them feel as though there’s something wrong with them. If you’re the tearful one, that’s okay too – your little baby is growing up and that’s a big deal.
My mother still tells the story of my first day at school. Apparently I went blissfully off into the sunset while she was left behind wiping tears.
2. Anger: Your child may display feelings of anger especially if this move was not something that they particularly wanted. Nobody likes to be the “new kid” and so your child may react in anger at the situation.
Don’t take it personal. Remember your reasons for moving her from the old school. Allow your child to express their anger (as long as they are not hurting themselves of being destructive). Once the child calms down, explain your reasons for moving them from their old school.
You may have to do this a few times before your child settles into a routine and starts to enjoy the environment.
3. Fluctuating grades: No two schools are the same and your child’s work will reflect this. Your job is to take note of the change in grades and analyze it. Did the grades improve or get worse? Is the work at the new school harder or easier? Does your child need additional help in order to improve their results? Is the grading system fair? Are the papers being scored correctly?
4. New culture: The new school will come with a change in culture. Before you reject it, take some time to understand it. It may help you to know what the school motto and vision statement are.
Look at school’s past accomplishments.
Speak to various parents.
Observe. Look at how the teachers and the auxiliary staff behave. Look at the students, how do they treat each other? How do they relate to the staff?
All of this will help you to figure out the culture of your new environment. Once you understand it, decide: is this the right place for your child? How do you and your children adopt to this new environment?
Now that we have an idea of what to expect at your child’s new school, here are my five tips for getting through the “New School Blues”.
1. Write down why you chose the school: Relax. You did your research. You checked it from all available angles. You may even have googled a list of things to look for when choosing a new school (like this one right here or maybe even this one). Keep a list to remind you of the things you liked about the school and why you chose that particular one over all the others.
2. Be an active part of your school community: I’m not telling you that you have to be a part of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) or that you need to volunteer for every event – if you feel led to do so and your calendar can accommodate it go right ahead. What I am saying is: support your children’s teachers in the job that they do.
Get to know your child’s teacher. Visit the school. My mother used to make unannounced visits when I was a child (I know this because she told me). Those visits allowed her to observe me in my natural habitat and made her aware on two levels: she saw how I behaved when I wasn’t on guard and she was able to see how school administrators and teachers interacted with students when no parent was expected.
If this is something that your schedule allows, go right ahead and do so. If not, be sure to at least attend the PTA meetings. If your child’s teacher sends home a letter, read it, take the necessary actions. That little bundle of energy is your gift from God and you have a responsibility for him/her.
3. Talk to your child about the new school: One of the best ways to know how your child is fitting into his new environment is to hear stories about what happened that day. Make it into a game – ask your little reporter to tell you the news of the day. This will give you a bird’s eye view of what’s going on at school.
Remember, no matter how often you visit your child is the one who spends hours there day after day – they have a pretty good idea of what’s happening at school.
4. Listen to what your child has to say: This ties into the point above but it’s so important I wanted to highlight it. As adults (and parents) we get so good at multitasking that we carry on whole conversations without our brain being engaged. We make the right listening sounds but a lot of the times our minds are miles away.
So let me just say this: when you ask your child about their day at school:
Listen to what they have to say.
Try not to interrupt or get them to gloss over the tale of who ate what off the floor. Cringe and correct later. For right now your main aim is to get the details on what’s happening at school.
5. Pray for your children: As parents this is one of our main responsibilities. We need to pray our children up and ensure that they are covered under the blood of Jesus. Bot sure what to pray? Check out this article about the 5 Prayers We Should Be Praying For Our Children. Before your child leaves the house each day, suit her up in her armor.
Bonus: Encourage your child to be active: Being social is a big part of who we are, encourage your children to participate in clubs as long as they are supported by your beliefs. Need help remembering these tips? Download our checklist plus 5 Bible verses to combat the "new school blues".