Changing Schools: Helping The Child To Adapt

Changing schools is not easy for a child. He will need a period of adjustment before he feels comfortable in the new reality. Let’s help him overcome his fear.
Changing schools: helping the child to adapt

Changing schools causes great anxiety and fear for the child, regardless of his age. The adjustment period usually lasts a couple of months, until the child feels comfortable with the new teacher and classmates.

It is up to us to help him overcome this critical phase, to see the glass half full and discover all the positives of the new experience. Do not miss the advice we present below.

Why fear and anxiety?

Child hugged to mother
Fear of the unknown is one of the reasons for anxiety when changing schools.

Regardless of the child’s age, feeling anxiety or fear is normal when it comes to a change of this magnitude. It is not difficult to understand the reasons, it is enough to activate our empathy.

Changing schools means a new start for the little ones (and not so young). Among the main reasons for anxiety and fear we find: 

  • The unknown. Everything is new: the child does not know who or what he will find in the new school.
  • Feel lonely. Changing schools means entering a class where everyone already knows each other. It is understandable that this situation generates fear.
  • Losing friends. Another fear is the thought of losing old school friends, of being forgotten.

Remember : the time needed to acclimatize varies from one child to another. The little ones tend to adapt faster than the big ones. It also depends on the character: shy people need more time to get used to. Be patient and stay close to your children!

How to help the child when he has to change school

Changing schools is probably an event that generates some anxiety in parents too, but it is imperative to keep it under control. Do not forget that you are a mirror in which your children are reflected. You are an example to follow. Let’s see how to help the child adapt to the new school.

Before changing schools

Mother hugs her daughter who does not want to change school
Dialogue and empathy are indispensable when starting a new adventure.
  • Only announce the change when it is safe. Talking about possibilities with your children would cause them unnecessary stress.
  • Explain why. Talking to the child about the reasons for the change is the only way to make him understand that it is a necessary sacrifice. Even if your children are small, they are able to reason. Arm yourself with patience, get ready to answer their questions and talk!
  • Provide important information. Tell them when they will start the new school, how their days will be organized, how the school works and everything else it takes to reduce the anxiety of the children.
  • Be empathetic. It is a difficult time for your children. Put yourself in their shoes and don’t lose your temper. Children need your understanding, love and support.
  • Visit the school. Getting to know the new school before class starts can help them have a clearer idea. Find out if it is possible to visit it.
  • Take advantage of extracurricular activities. If the school offers activities outside of class hours, it may be a good idea to enroll your child. Pick an activity together that he likes and let him gradually get used to the new school and his classmates. That way, when the time comes to start, you won’t feel too “the new one”.

The first day of school

First day in the new school, mom and daughter crying
Organize a peaceful first day of school to help curb anxiety.
  • Wake up the baby gently. Take the opportunity to have breakfast together, unhurriedly and trying to calm his anxieties.
  • Take him to school. No matter his age, he will need your support to deal with new teachers and peers. Be his pillar.
  • Listen. Let him know that you understand his fears and insecurities. Let it unleash with you.
  • Be on time, when you take him to school and when you pick him up. It is important for the child to arrive on time and it is essential that you be there waiting for him when he leaves school.
  • If he cries (in the case of the little ones), assure him that everything will be fine, but don’t bring him home right away.
  • Pay attention to the signs. Some children do not tell everything that happens in school or have difficulty expressing their feelings. Observe your children and note any changes or new attitudes: it helps you to understand how they are living the new experience.

During the adaptation period

Kids in the classroom
The time needed to acclimatise differs depending on the child.
  • Don’t forget that we are talking about the adaptation period. It is impossible to predict after how long the child will begin to feel comfortable in the new situation. Take a deep breath and remember that everyone has different times.
  • Never lose patience with your children if they say they don’t want to go to school. Adaptation can be very complicated. Listen to them, accompany them, do not add recriminations or outbursts to their stress.
  • Get to know other parents. Try to figure out which mate your children like best and talk to mom or dad. Maybe you can help your child break the ice by inviting the child to play or do homework.
  • Listen more, talk less. Allow the children to express themselves, try to understand them without moralizing. Each person experiences change in a different way.

Changing schools and adapting to the new reality can be long and complex, depending on the characteristics of each child. Arm yourself with patience and empathy. Only in this way can you truly help your children.

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