It’s back to school time and I can’t believe it is already here. We made a big move this summer and of course, that means EVERYONE has a new school in my house. Our move was bigger than that though. They’re attending school in a new country. That meant a lot more changes than it might have been if we would have just moved states.
School is school, but there are enough little differences that could make things more nerve-wracking than they already might be. I’m not sure who is more nervous, me or the girls…probably me! As you can probably imagine, I’ve been thinking about the school side of things for a long time. And I had to put on my teacher hat. I checked the websites for grade-level standards and all that jazz. I just wanted to make sure they had everything they needed to feel comfortable in their new settings. When grandma, a retired teacher asked questions, I had to be prepared! She’ll be worrying about her grandbabies education.
Why did you move, you ask?
From people at home, we get a lot of “you’re brave” or “Why are you moving?” or “What took you there?” Definitely, a lot of thought goes into a move like this, especially when there are children involved. In our case (and if you don’t know much about me), my husband’s family was the draw. It was a now or never kind of timing. Everyone was on board so it was time to go for it! As soon as we decided this is what we are doing, I started the research. I thought about what I could do to help make our transition as smooth as possible.
Have your kids had to change schools? How did they take it? What did you do to feel good about it? You may have already gone back to school, but many families might have to prepare for mid-year moves. I also know that classes can change around as schools are still managing their numbers as kids come in late. Families can also change their minds about where they enroll their students changing class size numbers.
6 Tips for Starting a New School
Here are some of the things I did to help make it a smooth transition. You might find them useful now or save them for a future school change that will be coming your way. You’ll find a lot of my ideas simple, but if you know me, or have read some of my previous blog posts you’ll know that I really believe that most of the time we find joy when things are simple rather than overcomplicated.
Get in Touch ☎
Reach out to the school if they haven’t reached out to you. Find out if they have an orientation day for parents and students. Schools often offer this for students who are attending the school at the entry-level year. I’ve been very impressed by my older girls’ school and the introduction they have been given. They’ve walked into school each day as if they’ve always been there. If this isn’t available, or it’s not the entry-level year then give the school a call to find out when you can ask questions or address concerns you might have about your child attending a new school. I like to understand the school’s culture and way of doing things. I think that the more I know about what they’ll be walking into, the better they’ll feel. The better I’ll feel too!
Tour the School 🏫
Setting a time for your kids to take a tour of the school will help minimize the fears of not knowing where to go. My older girls had a day just for touring and familiarizing themselves with the school. It was built into their schedule on the first day of school. Because they were first-year students, there were no other grade levels on campus.
The preschool and primary schools that my other two daughters are attending offered time for us to come see the school before the first day. This way they would be comfortable in their new school setting. Some schools may not offer a tour. However, if you ask to come on a day when staff is on campus they may gladly let you have a look around. You might even get a chance to meet the teacher quickly if they’re around (this is usually for younger students).
In the several years that I have taught, I often had new students who were nervous about coming to school. They’d stop by my classroom to become familiar with where they will go on the first day. A quick hello from the new teacher will usually lessen the tears and get them in the door faster on the first day. My little one got to hang out in the preschool for a few hours before her first day. Let me tell ya, it helped momma know what to expect during drop off. And her heels weren’t digging in the ground trying to get in the door on the first day.
Try to find or make friends with at least one new family 🤝🏻
It’s always nice to see familiar faces. If you’re new to the area, going to a local park is a great way to meet other kids who probably go to the same school. Even the shyest of kids find it easy to join in play at the park. It’s also a great place to meet other parents. You can ask them questions and they’ll often have a lot of great info that only the locals would know. After all, we’re usually sitting there just watching our kids play or trying to find something to busy ourselves while they play. This way, you and your child will have a few familiar faces to watch out for on the first day of school and thereafter.
Arrive a few weeks early 📆
I think my kids felt like we spent the whole summer gearing up to move. Then after the move, it was all of the stress that went into setting ourselves up to live in a new place. We arrived about four weeks before the girls started school. Even though there was a lot of busyness going on, because we came a few weeks early we could weave in some time to check out the area and have some fun. Again, you and the kids can get to know your new surroundings and know what kinds of activities the local area has to offer.
So when the going gets a lot tougher, you have a few places to go have some fun! Believe me, the going will get tough. It has a few times for us. It’ll cut down on everything feeling so new which can make things feel very overwhelming. Discovering new parks, or a cool place to have a coffee and a treat is a nice break for everyone.
Ask How They’re Feeling Throughout the Process ❤️
Throughout the process, I made sure I asked ALL of the girls how they were feeling. Most of the time I got a “fine,” but as we got closer to the move the nerves began to show up here and there. I never asked if they still wanted to move because it wasn’t going to change anything if they didn’t, and I didn’t want to put any false ideas in their heads. That would just confuse them. I checked in with them often. Not only before the move, but during the move, and even now after we’re here.
Go Shop 🛍️
My older girls will learn what it’s like to wear uniforms. While they are not crazy about wearing a uniform, they can still shop for other accessories they’ll need and school supplies. Kids are usually excited to pick out backpacks, pencil cases, lunch boxes, and all of the little extras. If they ask for a little something extra, I might find myself giving in because I want them to have some excitement about going to school.
Have a great school year!
If you read this and find yourself saying “that’s nothing new,” that’s great! But, you may find yourself also saying, I forgot about that, or that’s so easy, and I CAN do that! It can be worrisome to make big changes with your kids, but I believe there are ways to do it that can make it more of a fun experience than a traumatic one. Starting the school year is just the beginning and little challenges might creep up as the year goes on. I will definitely continue to practice some of the suggestions I’ve given to help the girls hopefully enjoy their new school setting.
Here’s to a great school year!