Adjusting to a New School/Class

Adjusting to a New School Environment


1. Fostering Independence

  • Give choices (even small ones)

    • Examples: what cup to drink from at dinner, picking out clothing, etc.

  • Encourage kids to help with chores

  • Create a chore chart for older children

  • Use words like "You should be proud of yourself" vs. "I am proud of you"

    • The first sentence helps increase self-esteem in children by letting children be proud of themselves

    • The second sentence implies looking for approval from others

      • If my parent is not proud of my work, then I can’t be proud of my work

  • Higher self-esteem builds better coping skills

  • Encourage kids to try to do things on their own (tying shoes, picking up toys, etc.)


2. Adjusting to a new school environment

Includes classroom, school, new friends, new teacher, teacher style differences

  •     Tour the school building before the first day of school

  •     Be Proactive – come into the school with your child on the first day to drop them off

  •     Meet early on with the teacher about any issues (behavior, academics, etc.)

    • Address specific concerns with the teacher and don't be afraid/anxious about repercussions

  • When moving to a new school or area, have a positive outlook

    • View the move as an exciting opportunity and model this to your child

  •     A student will develop coping skills for adjusting to a new environment

    • Having to make new friends

    • Learning new way around location/school

    • Coping with difficult feelings (sadness/anger)

  • Having a “Solve-the-Problem” approach rather than an “Avoid/Escape” approach is best

    • Teach your child to solve problems rather than avoid or escape them

  • Extra-curricular activities/hobbies outside of school will help a child develop new friendships and build higher self-esteem


3. Separation between child and parent

  • Separation anxiety can occur at any age/grade level

  • Start at home by increasing the amount of time away between child and parent (small amounts that increase over time)

  • Present neutral feelings - if the parent seems worried/sad/crying, then the child believes there is something to be worried about

  • Repeat clear, short verbal statements like "It is important to go to school"

  • Transition time is pretty short for most kids

    • Once the child is in the classroom and is situated, the separation anxiety usually disappears/decreases

  • It is very important to be consistent

  • Arrive at school at the same time every day

  • Don't give in on certain days (keeping your child home on more difficult days)

  • Continue the same routine every morning

  • Separation anxiety is worse after long breaks/weekends/summer