3. Involve your child as much as possible
Actively involving your child in the preparations for starting or changing schools will help them feel as though they have some say in the matter, and it can also help build anticipation. For example, if you need to choose between a few different schools, you could narrow down the best ones and then discuss the options with your child to see whether they have any preference.
Other ways to involve them in the transition process include shopping for new school supplies or clothes together, planning out their new route to school and having them make a list of the things they are looking forward to – as well as any questions or concerns they may have.
4. Pay a visit to the new school beforehand
We tend to fear what we don’t know, which is why visiting the new school in advance is a great way to help your child feel calmer about the transition.
Research from UCL also shows that a successful school transition involves being behaviourally and academically involved in school, and feeling a sense of belonging. Visiting the school in advance is one way to pave the way for this, as your child will have a chance to get to know school’s layout, see what extracurricular activities they might like to participate in and meet some of their teachers.
5. Help your child stay in touch with old friends
Losing friendships is a valid concern for children who are moving from one school to another. Research shows that preschool friendships are important for the development of social and emotional skills, and that they can increase feelings of belonging while decreasing stress.
So if your child had a close friend or group of friends in their last school, think of some ways to help them keep in touch after they move on. For example, you could organise play dates or even look for after-school activities, such as sports or dance, which they could join together.
You can also discuss the fact that they will make new friends, but that this doesn’t mean they will have to choose between their old friends and their new friends. Of course, it’s natural for some friendships to fizzle out over time, but in the early stages of a school transition, it’s important to reassure your child that changing schools doesn’t have to mean losing a good friend.