In general, to create a smooth transition for your child you can:
- Listen to your child's concerns about the change – Children respond to change in different ways. Some children may be excited about the new experiences the school may bring. Other children may feel anxious. The way that children respond may depend on many different factors, including their age, previous school experience and how familiar they are with the new school. If your child has concerns, give him or her the opportunity to discuss them with you. Having a list of your child's questions and concerns can help you, and the school staff, find answers for your child.
- Learn about the new school – There is often information online that can familiarize your child with the upcoming school experience. Although each school website varies, there may be information on topics such as the school’s extracurricular programs, major events and classroom newsletters that describe the learning activities. If the school does not have a detailed website, they may provide some information by mail. As already mentioned, it may be beneficial to visit the school in advance to become more familiar with the space and the school team.
- Ask about programs for new students – Some schools have a buddy program fornew students to help them get to know the school and other students.
- Talk with your child about his or her unique needs – Discuss whether your child would like his classmates to have specific information about him. Your child may want to share information with the class or prefer that you orthe teacher start a discussion. The information that is shared can help other students increase their awareness. For example, for a child who is blind, it may be helpful for classmates to let him or her know when they are leaving after a conversation and to keep pathways clear of objects. The decision for children to share information about themselves, or not, is their individual choice.
- Keep other parts of your child’s life constant as much as possible – Look for activities or routines that can remain constant in your child’s life. Routines can include regular visits to the library on Mondays, a walk to the park on Thursdays, a family movie night on Fridays and visiting a relative on Sundays.
- Encourage staying in touch with friends from the former school and neighbourhood – There are now many different ways to stay in touch – visiting for a weekend, texting, writing letters, talking on the phone, sending emails and video messaging. Providing opportunities for your child to communicate with the friends from their old school will help to ease the transition.