Transferring to a new school will be stressful for both children and parents. There are steps you can take now to help make your family’s transition smoother. Whether it’s a week before or two months before, take the time to get the following in order so that your switch will run with ease.
Many schools now have new student paperwork available online, and if yours does, download your papers as soon as possible and begin completing them. Do not wait until the day of the move to file the paperwork, as you’re likely to find you need papers to accompany the official documentation.
Whether the school makes forms available online, call the school (even in the summer) and request a checklist to help you make sure you have every paper you need.
If you’re moving from far enough away that you’ll be switching doctors and/or dentists, be sure to ask for a copy of your child’s health records. Make at least three copies: one to submit to the new school, one for your new doctors’ offices, and one for your files. If your family is staying with the same doctors, you’ll still need a copy for the school.
Take the time, now, to request paperwork from your child’s former school, as well. Especially if the former school has a hard-copy system, the turnaround on this request may take a few days. While the new school will likely, contact the old school for records, it will be helpful if you have copies with you to submit. Be sure to request copies of all information, including any special education programs or specialized programs created for your child.
It’s also helpful to ask your child’s former teacher to write a recommendation for the new school. The teacher observed and worked with your child in a different setting than you usually do, and if she found it helpful to encourage your child or used a particular classroom program that your child would benefit from in the future, you’ll want her to pass that information on. Your child’s teacher may wish to mail that independently to the new school, so be prepared with a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Schedule a visit
Whether your child is starting with the new school year or mid-year, call ahead to see if you can schedule a visit for your child to get a tour of the new school. Oftentimes, a student representative will give the tour, but sometimes it may be a principal, counselor, or school secretary. While you’re there, make sure your child knows where the bathrooms are how the cafeteria works, and point out things that are usually of particular interest to him. If he’s a lover of fantasy books, help him find them in the library. Take him out to the playground for a little fun there, too.
This is also a great time to inquire about local sports and arts opportunities that may be offered through your child’s new school or in the area.
Connect with new peers
I’ve seen so many children enter a classroom and become bombarded with 26 new faces. If you’re unable to find new friends around your child’s age in your neighborhood, ask the guidance counselor if she can recommend a first-day buddy. Hopefully, the buddies can meet before school starts, but if not, at least that new friend will be someone who was asked to look out for your child.
Get into a new routine, now
A change of schools is enough newness for one week or month. If you’re finding things in your routine that hasn’t been working (perhaps you’d like to start making lunches the night before, rather than the morning of, or an earlier bedtime may be in order), change them while you’re still at the old school, or over a vacation, long before the first day. One big change at a time is enough for a family!
Check out the curriculum
As if 26 new faces, a new hallway, different bathrooms, and a different lunch routine aren’t enough, imagine finding that your new school teaches a completely different handwriting system, math program, or your child will be reading books he read last year in Language Arts. Try to check into all of this ahead of time to prepare and, if necessary and possible, tutor your child. The internet offers countless ways to learn concepts–just a few lessons are often all it will take.
By preparing in advance, you’ll find the first day to still have a few more nervous jitters than usual, but you’ll be prepared enough that you can send your student off with a confident smile.