Back to school time brings out lots of emotions in kids, excitement, anxiety and sadness that their summer break is over. But for kids transitioning to a new school, middle school or high school unfamiliar buildings, more students and more freedom can be extra challenging. Parents of teens and school counselors say kids worry most about three aspects of the changes they’ll experience, logistics of the new school, keeping up academically and fitting in socially. Here are a few tried and true techniques that can ease the transition for both kids and parents.
Logistics – How will I find where I need to go?
- Kids entering a new Chula Vista school suddenly need to know how to find their classrooms, remember a locker combination and navigate a new building. If possible, sign up for tours that the school offer and go over a map of the buildings with your child before school starts.
- It’s a good idea to attend a few school events the year before your child enters school; going to plays, sporting events and concerts are a good way for kids to get comfortable with the new buildings and see what the older kids are doing.
- Once school starts, tell your child not to worry too much about being a little tardy to classes the first few days, it happens a lot and teachers understand.
- If the school allows it, encourage your child to bling-out their locker with pictures of friends, pets and favorite things.
Academically – How will I keep up?
- It’s important to remember that teachers do not want your child to fail; it’s in their best interest to help your kids succeed. Partner with them, encourage your child to visit teachers during office hours and attend after school tutoring sessions if needed.
- New Chula Vista high school students suddenly have a lot more freedom at school and more homework. You can help by setting up after-school routines like having homework done in a central, visible place and not allowing cell phones during homework time. This sends a strong message that you consider homework, and their studies, important.
- Be sure to keep on top of your child’s grades and attendance. See if the school offers some type of online parent access website that shows your child’s progress. Reach out to teachers when you notice a problem.
- Find out who the school counselor is and allow them to deliver tough messages when you’re struggling to get through to your child. They have different credibility than parents and can be a good resource and advocate for your child’s success.
Socially – How will I fit in and make friends?
- Most schools have student groups set up that help new kids acclimate. Chula Vista Middle School has a WEB (Where Everybody Belongs) group that helps new 7th graders make the transition from elementary school. WEB is made up of trained 8 graders who become WEB Leaders. They are assigned several 7th graders (Webbies) and act as in-the-know mentors.
- Try to have your kids stay away from the social media posts of current students. They are often slanted with extreme views of the school or other students. Many student groups or administrators post information about the school and these present a much more balanced picture.
- Keep track of your kid’s new school friends and encourage them to get involved in groups outside of school as well. Outside groups based on your child’s interests (athletics, Scouts, church, dance, and hobbies) enlarge your child’s friendship circle and if things are rough in school for awhile, it gives your child others to hang out with and have fun based on mutual interests.
- Most importantly, let your child know that they don’t need to be part of the most popular crowd at school, it’s over-rated and it’s always better to be happy and loved.