Six Steps to Setting Kids up for New School Success

If you moved into your new construction dream home during the spring or summer and have school-aged children, odds are that they are a bit nervous about starting at their new school.  A positive attitude and some organization will help the transition go more smoothly.  Here are six steps to help your children adjust to their new school.

Photo by coward_lion

Photo by coward_lion

  1. Punch up your positive attitude. Kids have wild imaginations which can sometimes cause them to focus on everything that could go wrong.  Starting at a new school can cause anxiety for children, however by reinforcing that other kids have the same feelings, hopes and expectations, you can help them feel more comfortable.  Focus on the fact that they will soon meet many new friends and learn lots of new things to help minimize their fears.
  2. Put the ‘I’ in involvement.  Encourage children of all ages to participate in one or two activities that appeal to them.  Studies show that children are more likely to be academically engaged when they feel connected to the school through extracurricular activities such as sports or clubs.  Consider volunteering yourself in the classroom for younger children and in the booster club or other committees for older children.  You’ll make new friends and strengthen your family’s ties to your new school district.
  3. Schedule a trial run. Before school starts, take your children through a trial run.  Make sure they know where the bus stop is unless they are walking, in which case traverse the safest path to school with them.  Be sure to review school safety tips.  If you know which classrooms your children will be in, request a visit ahead of time so that they know exactly where to go on the first day of school.
  4. Arm kids with school supplies. Don’t wait until the night before school starts to stock up on supplies.  Fortunately, most school districts post recommendations for school supplies by grade on their websites.  For example, here is South Lyon’s list.  You can also search by Michigan school here.
  5. Read stories with positive messages. Children identify with playful characters and common scenarios in popular youth book series.  Younger children will benefit from hearing back-to-school stories such as:
  • Berenstain, Stan and Jan. The Berenstain Bears Go to School. Random House, 1978
  • Brown, Marc. Arthur’s Teacher Trouble. Little, Brown Books, 1989
  • Howe, James. The Day the Teacher Went Bananas. Penguin, 1987
  • Rey, Margret and H.A. Curious George’s First Day of School. Houghton Mifflin, 2005
  1. Take vitamin Zzzzzz. Most children enjoy staying up late on hot summer nights and sleeping in as long as possible.  They will transition to earlier wake times more easily if you set their alarms for schooldays at least one week ahead of their first day of school.  Consider waking them up earlier in increments over a period of time, for example fifteen minutes or a half-hour earlier than they have been waking up during the summer months.
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