Janet Hicks Ph.D.

Raising Parents

How Can I Help My Child Transition to a New School?

Helping My Child During Our Move

Posted Jun 06, 2017

So, you finally aced that interview and received that new job or promotion. Or, perhaps your company is sending you across the country to take on new responsibilities. Regardless of the reason for the move, your excitement is quickly tarnished when you see the astonished look on your child’s face and hear things such as, “But all my friends are here. I don’t want to move.”  It can be very difficult knowing your success requires tremendous upheaval and stress on the part of your child. When I worked as a school counselor, I helped children new to the school adjust and make friends. Fortunately, I learned several strategies that were helpful.

If possible, try to have your child settled and starting school at the beginning of the year. This is easier on your child because everyone is transitioning to a new grade level and classroom at the beginning of the year. It means your child stands out less as the “new kid” and may even meet several other children in the same situation. Even if your child can’t start school at the beginning of the year, however; several strategies are helpful.

Visit the new school as soon as you can. Introduce your child to the school counselor and teacher(s) so they see a few familiar faces on the first day of school.

In addition to introducing your child to the educational professionals, schedule a private visit with the counselor and teacher(s) and explain your concerns about the move. The school counselor and teacher(s) can assign other responsible children to serve as mentors to your child and help with the transition. It also helps educators when they know about any educational or personal/social issues in advance.

Read books with your child about moving and making new friends. Eileen Kennedy-Moore’s child friendly book, Growing Friendships: A Kid’s Guide to Making and Keeping Friends, offers helpful suggestions for children aged 6-12. The book gives specific dos and don’ts that are easily understood by children and will be available July, 2017. Visit the library with your child and see if you can find this and other such books you can read together.

Encourage your child to become involved in interesting extracurricular activities or clubs. Even non-school related activities help your child adjust to their new location and meet new friends.

Allow your child to maintain connections from their previous school and town. Phone calls, texts, emails, and even occasional visits keep your child from being lonely and remind them they have the potential to make and keep friendships. Do encourage your child to branch out and make new friends with others in the new location, however.