There is a natural amount of anxiety and excitement that comes with the start of the new school year and that is without the added drama of being the new kid. The following are highlights from a radio interview Dr. Cross did with Melanie Cole, host of Healthy Children on RadioMD.
Families move, kids change schools and although things almost always work out just fine, there are some things parents can do to ease the transition.
Prepare Your Child
Tour the school: Call ahead and see if you can set up a time to tour the school. If not, don't necessarily think you can't just stop by. Most schools are open a few days before school begins for teachers to set up. Often even if you can't get an official tour, you can walk the halls, locate the bathroom, the library, and the gym. You may even be able to peek into your new classroom. Be sure to remind your child how to properly introduce himself, so that if you do run into his new teacher, he makes a good first impression.
Practice what to say in new situations: Acknowledge that it can be hard to just go up and talk to kids you don't know, but, if you practice what to say, it may help kids get over the hurdle. Role-play introducing yourself, "Hi, my name is Joe, what's your name?" "Do you mind if I sit with you guys for lunch?"
Read books about being the new kid:
There are quite a few books available catering to all different age groups about adjusting to being the new kids.
- Ellie McDoodle New Kid in School by Ruth McNally Barshaw
- 15 Best Things About Being The New Kid by Cynthia L. Copeland
- Will you Be My Friend by Peter Brown
- Sea Monster's First Day by Kate Messner
- Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School by David Mackintosh
Talk about the upside: Remind your child that the good thing about being the new kid is that you get to start anew. If you had a nickname you didn't like, no one needs to know it.
Increase Your Child's Opportunity to Make New Friends
Get outside: Take advantage of the last few weeks of summer to meet kids. Go to the town pool, park or just play outside on your block.
Join activities: Meeting kids in small groups can be easier. Join activities in school and out of school: ballet, tennis, t-ball.
Walk to school (with a parent if appropriate): Walking to school will allow you to meet other kids who live near you.
Get to know Another family: Invite the family of one of your child's new classmate's over to dinner.
Remind Your Child that It Takes Time:
Don't latch on to someone right away: Expect it to take some time to get the lay of the land.
Be yourself: Although it is easy to think that any friend will do as long as you make one quickly. It is better to make friends with people you mesh with well. So don't try to be someone your not just to make friends. Remember your special too.
Stay in touch: Just like the saying goes, "Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the others gold." As much as you want to give yourself time to meet new people, chatting with good friends will always cheer you up and make your feel less isolated.