Saturday, August 23, 2014

Helping Your Kids with their First Day in a New School

“I felt excited to go to school, and that scared me." Stephenie Meyer, Twilight.

I am still a few days away from sending my boys back to school but I can't stop wondering if they feel the butterflies in their stomachs, the ones I felt when I was a kid. I went to the same school from kindergarten to  the 12th grade, but my kids have attended six different schools around the world, and so far, they've always had smooth first days.

So, how can you help your kids feel more at ease on their first day at a new school? Here are a few tips:
  1. Will you know someone attending the new school who could help them on their first day?  International schools (read how to choose the right one for your kid here) are pretty good at helping new kids navigate around on their first day.  If your school doesn't have a program to welcome new students, don't hesitate to request a "sponsor"for your child.
  2. Visit the school before the first day of classes and give your child a chance to familiarize him or herself with their new surroundings.
  3. Make an effort to attend the orientation programs.
  4. Ask your child if he/she has any questions about their new routine and try to help them find the answers.  I know my kids were always worried about getting into the wrong school bus and getting lost in an unfamiliar city.
  5. Write you home/work address and phone numbers on a piece of paper and put it in their backpacks so, in case or an emergency, they'll know how to contact you (have the card translated into the local language).  Of course if they're old enough a cell phone might not be a bad idea.
  6. Will a new outfit (new backpack, new lunchbox...) give them the extra confidence they need?  Maybe worrying about what to wear will take some pressure away from the awkwardness of the first day.
  7. If they're attending the same school as last year, help them connect with classmates before the beginning of school, so they can catch up and share some of their summer stories before school starts.
  8. Remember, as you may be more nervous than them, try to keep your cool and radiate the confidence they need.
  9. Volunteer at school.  Seeing you around and participating will help them feel part of the new school.
  10. Remember, they are going to be fine.  You survived; they will, too.

Do you have any other tips to share?

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