Moving schools is often one of the most unsettling and difficult periods of a child’s life. School moves are usually accompanied with other seismic events such as moving to a new house and a new area. It is incredibly important that the transition between schools is completed as smoothly as possible. A traumatic move can have many consequences for children in the future and hugely affect their learning. There are a number of things to ensure this doesn’t happen and that the move is completed effectively.
Pass on information
Although your child’s previous school should have sent transfer documents, including examples of their work, onto the new school, it will do no harm to offer the school further examples of work that you might have. If your child has any Special Educational Needs (SEN) or Learning Difficulties, it is also crucial to check the school is in possession this information and has an understanding of their needs.
Many parents whose children are switching schools arrange a meeting with their child’s new classteacher. This is a great way of introducing yourself and gaining a clear understanding of what is expected from school and any customs and routines.
Make sure you have a thorough look round the school and get a feeling for it. Consult your child in the process and, where possible, ensure they are able to see the school too. When touring the school, take the opportunity to find out about the ethos of the school. Talk to the teachers, pupils and other staff to help you gauge the atmosphere. It is often said that parents should choose a school based on the headteacher- after all, they are the person who sets the tone for the rest of the school. Prepare a list of questions that you’d like to know about the school. Don’t worry if you think they might be trivial- each one will be important in helping you and your child fit in. Along with establishing the essentials of the school, such as timetables, homework, bullying policies etc, another important subject to broach is what plans the school has for the future. Things like expansions or changes in personnel can be extremely disruptive.
Involve your child
As well as ensuring they look round the school, it’s vital that children learn about the area or place they are moving to. Encourage them to join up to after-school clubs as a means of making new friends. Help them learn about the area they are moving to and always be ready to listen to any concerns they might have.
It is important that children keep the links they have to their old school and friends. Although they must be encouraged to move on, there is no harm in them remembering their time and keeping in touch with friends. Social media is a brilliant way for contact to maintained (used safely) but writing letters to friends and teachers can also be a nice way to keep in touch.
Ensure that a balance is struck between keeping links to the past and moving on for the future. Most of the time, children will make friends quickly and move on with their lives, but more sensitive children will take time to establish themselves and cling to their old lives. Support them with this and allow them to reminisce whilst slowly easing them into a new phase of their lives. Allow them to invite new friends from school to come round to play as this will immediately help to make them feel more secure and confident.
Get involved yourself
Starting a new school can be very daunting for some children, so sometimes it can be a good idea for you to get involved with the school, too. There are plenty of ways to get involved- hearing readers; volunteering to help on a school trip; join the PTA. Whilst you being at the school will help some children settle in, it’s vital that you don’t become too “pushy” and over-involved in their lives. They also require room to breathe and carve out their own life.