Back to School…only it’s a new school.

It’s that time of year again.

I have started to think about school supplies…like trying to locate the backpacks, lunch bags and anything else that my kids will need on their first day of school.

Yes, school starts in less than a week for two of my kids. For my youngest, this will be a new school. She attended a local school for the past few years, but will now attend the “American” school where we live. She’s a bit nervous and excited all at the same time. She’s been asking questions about her class, her teacher, and if she will have to take her shoes off before entering the classroom.

I believe as parents we must help our kids transition into a new school.  Whether it is changing schools because of a new city/country, going from local school to international school, home-school to a classroom setting, we need to help them feel more confident. I’ve listed 5 ways that you could help your child with this transition.

1. Tell your child what language will be spoken at the school. This sounds very simple, but younger children (and maybe even some older ones) may not realize this and are either pleasantly surprised because they do  understand OR worse, shocked and scared because they don’t understand.

2. Tour the school.  If you can, call in advance and set up a tour.  Or, if this not possible, look up the website of the school and see if they have any video tours or pictures to show what the campus looks like. Show your TCK the classroom, the playground, the cafeteria and anything else that would be of interest to your child(ren).

3. Meet the teacher(s). If possible, try to meet the teacher. Don’t stay too long because they are busy, especially the week before school starts getting the room ready. Most teachers are happy to meet new students briefly before the semester starts. Older students may or may not want to do this. I’d go with whatever they decide. If you are not able to meet the teacher, then check online and see if the school has photos of the faculty. Then at least you and your child will see what your teacher looks like.

4. Meet classmates.  This one might be tough to do, but it’s not impossible. Ask your school if they would be willing to give you contact information of other parents. Also, go to English language churches, clubs, or restaurants that you think other members of the expat community might attend.  In addition, there maybe various websites regarding expat life in your city. Check those to see if there are any events for children.

5. Listen to your child. This is the most important. Let them share their fears, excitement, and sadness with you. They will most likely be sad about leaving the “old” school.  You may just need to hold them and let them cry. It can be a hard “season” for everyone, but it is just that, a season. It will change and it will get better. Share that you understand and are there for them.

I understand that my daughter might still be nervous and may even shed a tear come Monday morning. But, at least I know some of her fears can be put aside because of taking these steps.

I know there are other ideas out there. So share. What have you done to help your child transition into a new school?