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How to Help a Child Transition to a New School in the Middle of a School Year

by Kay Ireland

Heading to a new school at the start of a school year is difficult enough, but transitioning in the middle of school year can mean struggling to make friends, keeping up with a new curriculum and having your child playing sick so she doesn't have to go to school. Ease the midyear transition by doing as much of the preparation work together as possible. The more comfortable your child is with the school before she starts attending, the more confident she'll be when making the switch.

Visit the school outside of school hours to get a general feel for the layout, meet the administration and help your child feel more confident on her first day. Taking a tour and finding her class can help her get acquainted with the school without the added stress of dealing other kids. When she starts on her first day, she'll essentially already know where to go and what to do.

Schedule a time to meet your child's teacher. Not only will this help calm any fears your child has, but it's an excellent opportunity to talk about curriculum and to ensure your child is already caught up. If she's behind, ask the teacher for some homework or worksheets that you can do before the first day so your child doesn't feel confused or left behind because of a new school's curriculum. This is also a good time to get a list of and buy the supplies that your child will need so she's fully stocked and isn't left out when all of the children have the same supplies already.

Encourage your child to make friends outside of school, suggests the National Center for Youth Issues. Signing up for a soccer team or registering for gymnastics means she'll meet kids her own age that could go to the same school. This helps her practice her social skills and possibly make friends even before she has her first day at a new school.

Offer to volunteer in your child's classroom, suggests the National Association of School Psychologists. Getting involved at your child's new school can make her feel more comfortable while giving you the chance to learn about her peers, her teacher and the other parents involved. You'll have the opportunity to make adult friends and set up play dates with your child, while seeing first-hand how your little one is adjusting.

Focus on the positive. Your child might not be happy about changing to a new school, so check your own attitude and point out the benefits such as a well-stocked art room or the opportunity to play on an intramural volleyball team. This encourages your child to look on the bright side so switching schools midyear isn't so traumatic.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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