Research

Transitioning to a New School

As August winds down, kids are trading in their baseball gloves and bathing suits for backpacks and textbooks.

While a new school year can bring excitement, children can also experience anxiety — especially students transitioning to a new school or moving to a new city.

“It is normal for kids to feel nervous about the first day at a new school,” explains psychologist Regina Mendoza, Psy.D., a member of Baptist Health’s Quality Network. “They are anxious about the unknown. They are scared that they will feel alone.”

Parents can help by validating their child’s emotions and easing their mind.

“Parents can visit the new school before the first day to familiarize the child,” Dr. Mendoza said. “It is also a good idea to involve the child in preparing for school with activities such as gathering school supplies. This helps build excitement.”

Role-playing social situations helps children handle new peer interactions.

“Reviewing conversation starters and how to engage others will help them feel more confident and comfortable,” she said. “Kids need to be reminded that sitting next to someone they don’t know is an opportunity to make friends, not something scary.”

Dr. Mendoza also suggests getting involved in the school community to build relationships with other families and setting up play dates. “The more the household is connected to the school, the more comfortable the child will feel.”

Parents need to remember that they are not alone in the school transition. “Teachers can help children fit into to a new place,” Dr. Mendoza said. “Parents need to talk to the teachers to explain their child’s anxiety. They are often the best resource of support.”

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