We’ve all been there — it’s your first day at a new school and you don’t know the building. There are a lot of new faces you don’t recognize. Let’s say you’re starting high school: As a freshman, you’re at the bottom of the pecking order.
What can students and families do to ease first-day jitters? With the first day of school just around the corner, Morning Shift talks to Dr. James Walsh of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology about his top 5 tips to help deal with school transitions.
1. Listen to your kids' concerns: "It's really important as parents to listen to those kids," said Dr. Walsh. "Every child will have different reasons... they're nervous or anxious about school. Sometimes it's about whether they're going to make friends, whether they're going to be smart enough, able to keep up with the workload, whether they're going to be safe at school. [...] This week is really a good time to have a conversation with your kids. It's listening to them. 'What are you excited about? Is there anything you're nervous about?' ... Then you can do the preparation based on what they want."
2. Getting used to the new space ahead of time. "If you can walk through the hallways [with your kid], or meet with the teacher ... or walk to the cafeteria," are great ways to let your student familiarize themselves with this new school.
3. Plan that first day. "Find out if there's anybody in your neighborhood going to that same school. 'Hey do you want to walk to school together?' That's a nice way for a child to feel like 'Oh I know somebody.'"
4. Get back into the school-year sleep schedule. About a week ahead of the first day of school, students (and parents) should establish the sleep schedule they want to have during the school year to avoid morning stress and fear of being late.
5. Take a look at the list of after-school activities. Finding an activity a child is interested--and a group of peers that share that interest--could help a student feel more connected to a school and break down nervousness, according to Dr. Walsh.
GUEST: Dr. James Walsh, Department Chair of the School Psychology program at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
The practical and personal of back to school (Gazette Extra, 8/5/18)
Tips to Help Your Child Transition to a New School (Pathways Blog)