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How to Adapt to a New School

by Shelley Frost

New surroundings, unfamiliar faces and different learning standards make the transition to a new school stressful for many students. Not only are they faced with unknowns, they may still feel sad about leaving their old schools. Getting used to a new school takes time, but coping strategies can ease the transition.

Research

Knowing what to expect makes the transition a little easier on everyone. Most school districts have websites with general information about individual schools, educational philosophies, schedules and activities. The school calendar provides details about upcoming events, such as an open house, that might help with the transition. If you know the names of the teachers, you might even find pictures or biographies to learn a little before you meet them. The method of transportation to school is another research topic. If walking is an option, check out a map to find the best route from home to school.

Visit

The first day at any new school often is met with nervousness and sometimes confusion. Contact the school and schedule a low-pressure trip to the building before the first day so the campus looks familiar when classes start. The trip provides a chance to find lockers, classrooms and key spots, such as the cafeteria. If the teacher is available, a meeting is a possibility. The visit may ease some fears about starting at an unknown school.

Get Involved

Involvement in the community even before the first day of school can help with the move. You meet new people who may also attend the school or have children at the school. Those familiar faces make the school less intimidating in the beginning. Once classes start, the school offers other ways to get involved, such as joining extracurricular activities or student organizations. Parent involvement at the school through volunteering and staying informed on school events helps the entire family transition to the new learning community.

Establish a Routine

A new school often means a new routine, including morning preparation, getting to school and after-school activities. Settling into a routine gives the family a sense of familiarity. With all of the changes, a daily schedule gives children some stability. The routine should include a bedtime early enough to allow for plenty of sleep. Being rested makes it easier to handle the challenges of a new school. When still adjusting to the school, allow for yourself plenty of time in the mornings. Rushing to get to school on time adds to the stress of being in a new situation.

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