(METRO)–Being the new kid in school can be a tall order for youngsters. Children who change schools may face a host of challenges that studies suggest can affect both their social and academic development.
In a 2010 study that followed students who entered kindergarten in 1998 through 2007, the Government Accountability Office found that 13 percent of students changed schools four or more times by the end of eighth grade. Such mobility can adversely affect students, as a study of 13,000 students in the city of Chicago found that children who had changed schools four or more times by the sixth grade were roughly a year behind their classmates.
In addition to the toll transferring schools can take on their academic performance, students also may experience difficulty assimilating into their new schools. Though there’s no formula to make such transitions easier, parents can try various strategies to help their kids successfully adjust to new schools.
n Speak with children about the transition. Pathways.org, a not-for-profit organization devoted to providing free child development information to parents and health professionals, recommends parents speak with their children about transitioning to a new school. Encourage children to share what excites and worries them about the transition. The way parents discuss transitions can go a long way toward shaping how kids view the change.
n Stay true to your routine. Pathways also recommends parents of students who are transitioning to a new school do their best to replicate first day of school routines from years past. Some familiar traditions might help calm kids’ concerns about their first day in a new school.
n Assimilate into a new community before the school year begins. The education resource Edweek.org notes that the most common causes of students changing schools are residential moves related to parents’ jobs or financial instability. Parents on the lookout for a new job or those who may need to relocate for financial reasons may want to delay moving until the current school year has ended. Moving between school years gives families time to acclimate to their new communities. That means kids will get time to make new friends. Some familiar faces on the first day at a new school can go a long way toward alleviating the fears children may have.
n Volunteer at your child’s new school. Parental involvement at school can have a profound impact on children. The National Education Association notes that children whose parents are involved at school are more likely to perform academically than students whose parents are uninvolved. In addition, such students are more likely to have good attendance and exhibit stronger social skills than children whose parents do not involve themselves in their children’s school. It stands to reason that students transferring to a new school may benefit from parental involvement even more than other students, as seeing their parents approach a new school with excitement and energy may inspire children to follow suit.
Transitioning to a new school is not easy for many students. But parents can help smooth that transition in various ways.