New school top tips

Is your child starting a new school? Whether it be you’ve moved through concerns or you’ve moved house so have to change schools too hopefully this post will be insightful!

The first few weeks starting a new school and how to help your child to adjust.

So Eilidh started a new school a few weeks ago now and I wanted to write a little blog post on things that have helped us both adjust to the new experience. If you would like to hear more about why we decided to move schools or learn about the process or what we looked for in a new school this post might be helpful.

When is best to make the move?

Once we decided she was moving I looked at the calendar and possible dates. For us I felt like it would be best to move Eilidh before the start of a new term. Lots of people suggested to move after the Easter holiday but I knew Eilidh would then spend the entire Easter holiday worrying and getting worked up about her new school. We decided to move two weeks before the Easter break, it would give her a chance to meet new friends, get a feel for her new school and then after that first few weeks she had a well deserved two weeks break to let it all sink in then go back into the new term knowing she had made friends. I’m also hoping to have a few meet ups throughout the Easter holidays with her new friends to strengthen and nurture those new friendships.

Leaving school :

Prepare your child for leaving, talk to them about their concerns. Really listen. Listen to all of those ‘small’ concerns and reassure them without stomping on their worries with ‘it’ll all be fine!!’ It’s important for them to tell you everything they are feeling so that you can have a huge picture of what exactly they’re most worried about.

Most of Eilidh’s worries were to do with making new friends, of course your parent reaction or instinct is to say ‘of course you’ll make friends!!’ but thats maybe not what they need to hear, its not addressing their feelings or reassuring them. What we did was we spoke about all the friends she has and asked her why she thought she had so many friends. Her answer was ‘I don’t know’ so we asked her to think about it again, she thought for a while and started to come up with things like, ‘because I’m kind and helpful’ ‘I look after other people’ ‘ I can be fun’ once she spoke about how and why she already has friends it made it easier for her to realise that she will be able to do this again.

It’s just as important for us to take care of our children’s mental health as well as our own as adults. My hope for the future is that the more we speak to Eilidh, discuss ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that it will create a strong bond where she feels like she can come to us about any worries she has throughout her life.

Eilidh has some wonderful friends that she left behind at school but that doesn’t mean they are no longer friends. We have tried our very best and gave lots of time to making sure she feels like she still has those friends by having kids over for dinner or meeting up at a park. She’s too young for a phone so I allow her to use my phone to phone her friends or text on occasion to their parents. It’s so funny reading back their messages. SO MANY EMOJIS.

Make their last day fun!

We took in a school top and lots of coloured sharpies for the kids to all wrote goodbyes on. I’m so glad we did this as it now means so much to Eilidh to read all of the wonderful messages.

Prepare for tears

Perhaps this will be different for you if you’re considering a move because your child has been bullied but for us it was a very upsetting day the last day of school, for both of us. This safe place where Eilidh had spent the last 3 years of her life coming to was now coming to an end. It must be really hard for them to process that. Eilidh’s friends were are in tears, parents shed tears - as I mentioned in a previous post it was such a small school so everyone really knew each other.

We took lots of group pictures of Eilidh and her friends in front of the playground.

Beginning the new school:

Create an ‘All About Me’ poster - we used our special after bedtime time (something I’ll write about soon) to make a poster for Eilidh’s new teacher. It’s certainly not an original idea, you’ll have probably seen one if you have children who have started school/nursery but I thought in this case it would be helpful for Eilidh and her teacher. We all know how much kids forget what they’ve done or what they like so this will take out that awkward time of Eilidh trying to explain all of who she is and what she loves.

Questions we included;

Who lives at home:

My pets:

My best friends:

I love:

I dislike:

My favourite experiences:

My favourite books:

My favourite food:

My favourite TV shows:

What I’m excited for:

What I want to be when I grow up:

We also wrote a mini autobiography together that was filled with some silly sentences.

Other than this being a great tool for Eilidh’s teacher it was also very beneficial for Eilidh. It allowed her to write down lots of things she is good at and her aspirations. It gave her a nice little confidence boost before starting her new school.

Get a BUDDY:

I’m sure this will be something that ANY school would set up for a new pupil coming in but if for some reason they don’t I would definitely request it. It has been so valuable for Eilidh’s transition.

So a buddy is a pupil/classmate who will help your child ad ‘buddy’ them for that first few days. Show them around the school and classroom, help them at lunch time and during breaks.

The school couldn’t of picked a better fit for Eilidh with her buddy and they’ve become ‘best friends’ so quickly, its allowed her to fit in seamlessly and make more new friends knowing her buddy.

Make sure YOU know what you’re doing

Making sure you know what you’re doing is crucial too (it’s a hard one for me, I’m not the os organised)

Knowing things like,

Where to drop off and collect your child

What the routine for lunches is

What day P.E. is

How does the school keep in contact with you? Some schools now have apps to keep in easy contact/ hand out information

I would also recommend buying a ‘letter bag’ for letters from the school to go into so you don’t need to rummage through a school bag to find new letters or forms to sign.

This will make the first few weeks much easier for your child if you know things that they might question.

These are just some of the things that have helped Eilidh’s transition. She is a fairly confident individual so we didn’t feel like we needed much more preparation. Perhaps if you have a younger child or your child is a bit introvert you’ll want to research and find out other helpful ways to prepare them.

I hope you’ve found this helpful!

Karen x