Help your child settle into a new school

Monday January 28 2019

Parents should accompany their children on the

Parents should accompany their children on the first day of a new school to help them overcome their anxiety. PHOTO BY ALEX ESAGALA 

By Barbara Nekesa

The selection process is over meaning your child starts their secondary school in a couple of weeks. Some parents may be taking their children to kindergarten or primary school for the first time. While some of these parents are excited, others are anxious. The children though, may not know how to react to the new school given that it is a new environment with new rules, having to make new friends, getting to meet new teachers, or that it might not be the school the child wanted to join in the first place but for some reason, they have ended up in this school.

This can be nerve-wracking! Parents will wonder whether their child will be able to adjust to the new school; will they cope with the routine; will they make friends? You can help your child transition into this new school.
Do they know basic skills
For kindergarten, the child should be toilet trained by now, know some numbers and letters and be able to interact socially and make friends. For secondary school going children, they should have learnt basics such as laying beds and doing basic housework.

Involve the children
Take your children with you when you go shopping for school items such as bags and books, among others. Whenever possible, allow your children to choose these items. Also, involve your child in packing their school items as they prepare to head off to school.

Go together on the first day
If it is possible, accompany your child to school on the first day as you will be able to meet their teachers. In order to deal with separation anxiety, say goodbye firmly and cheerfully and leave your child at school as planned. Some schools can go an extra mile and even send you pictures of your child as they go about their day. I remember requesting for pictures for the entire first week at my child’s pre-school; this will give you some level of comfort and security while you go on with your work. Most schools settle new children into kindergarten, offering short days or mornings to start. If you feel your child will not keep up with the schedule offered, ask the school if you can collect them early.

Establish daily timelines
These daily timelines help start a routine in your child’s life. They include waking time, giving enough time for children to get prepared for school and have breakfast, school time, picking up time, up until they get back home, have supper and get into bed. These routines should be consistent and allow your child a balance between play time, including television time and sleep time.

Talk to them
Whether it is daily for younger children that go to school from home or during visitation days, parents should endeavour to talk to their children about school so the children know you are in it together and can confide in you.
Remember, it is going to take time. Adjusting to a new school and new friends will take some time. Give your child the chance to feel comfortable in their new space. It may even take a few months before things settle. Allow your child (and yourself) that time. And before you know it, you will all be feeling a lot more comfortable.