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Tips for the New Kid in Class

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A New School Year and a New School: Tips for the New Kid in Class

For students of any age, there is nothing that compares to the first day at a new school. It's a mix of excitement for a new start and apprehension about the unknown combined with a powerful need to fit into a new setting. As a parent, you've been focusing for weeks now on the good parts of the new school year ahead the opportunity to make new friends, the bigger and better features of the new school, and even new class selections that the old school may have been unable to offer. You've still got a few more weeks ahead to help your young learner develop a sense of confidence about their new school experience. This is the perfect time to develop a checklist designed to make the first day of school a breeze.

Before School Starts

Make an appointment to tour the new school. The month of August is a good time to work with school staff members to make sure your new student gets a leisurely and comfortable start in his or her new surroundings.

A tour of the building can be a real confidence booster. When students know where things are, they will feel much more secure about a new setting. It's a great relief for youngsters to know in advance how far they may be from their classrooms, the cafeteria, the gymnasium, and other locations.

Ask if you can make an appointment to meet your child's new teacher or teachers in advance. Learners of any age will welcome seeing a familiar face when they walk into a new class setting for the first time.

Help your student to make appropriate clothing choices by obtaining a copy of any student dress code well in advance of the start of school. If the school has a uniform, buy it early and let your child get accustomed to their new daily look. Some students entering Kindergarten may enjoy putting their uniform on in a game of dress-up for friends and relatives; just make sure to hang the clothing up out of reach to keep it in the best possible condition for the start of school.

If possible, make new friends before the school year begins. For any child, life at a new school is all about making friends quickly. Once you've looked around the neighborhood, check a little farther afield. Some local libraries welcome volunteer workers of school age; some youth centers and swimming pools offer paid or unpaid employment opportunities. Get creative; brainstorm with your new neighbors and see what you can come up with.

Youth-oriented membership service organizations are another great way to make new friends for parents, as well as for children. Camp Fire USA, Girl Scouts of the USA, and Boy Scouts of America offer supportive environments and activities for a range of ages. Each organization has an online locator feature that will help you find the group near your home.

Encourage students who may be struggling with starting over in a new place by reminding them that a new school is a new opportunity to reinvent their image. They can emphasize interests that may have been under the radar at their old school. It can be very cool to be the new girl or guy in town; new classmates will be trying to figure out this mysterious new person who suddenly appeared in the classroom.

The First Day of School

Make sure you know what time school starts. This may seem obvious, but some schools don't include start time information on their advance paperwork or web sites. You don't want to be guessing at information this important on a stressful first day.

Keep an eye on your child's first-day clothing choices. Although younger children may look charming in sweet little outfits and dressy shoes, these may not be the best choices for the rough-and-tumble world of the playground or the long (for a Kindergartner) school day. With older kids, talk about first impressions and ask them how they'd like to launch themselves at their new school by dressing for success.

Know how the lunch plan works. If your child will be bringing lunch, make sure it's something they will eat. Have prepaid lunch cards or lunch money ready well in advance to avoid morning scrambling.

Be sure your child understands how their school transportation will work and where to find their ride home. Children of all ages need some type of reassurance in this area. Make sure younger children understand that Mom or someone will be there for them when they get home.

The School Days Ahead

A routine has been established; it's time to explore and enjoy the new school. Your child may enjoy blogging about the start of school with friends from the previous school.

As the days go by, new friendships will bloom and the new school will begin to seem less strange. Talk to your youngsters often and let them tell you what they think of their new surroundings; help them find the best parts of the new world around them.

--Kathie Felix
Kathie Felix writes about education for a variety of national news media outlets.



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