Starting at a new school is one of the most daunting experiences we all face at a young age. Whether it’s moving up to secondary level or simply joining a new school, feeling prepared can really help soothe those first-day nerves. Whether it's checking out extra curricula activities on the school website or packing your PE kit in good time, here are our top five tips to help your child tackle their first week with ease and confidence.
1 Plan for the first day
While most children will have visited their prospective school before their first day, it’s always worth taking some time before to explore their new route and how they will get there. For some children, starting secondary school is the first time they’ll take the bus by themselves, so making sure they know which one to take, and which stop to catch it from, will ensure their new setting won’t feel so alien to them. Downloading a bus timetable app before terms starts will come in useful to help them plan their journey.
2 Double check they have everything they need the night before
Stationery? Check. Uniform? Check. Pocket money? Check.
The first day at a new school can make even the most confident child nervous so help make the night before and morning as stress-free as possible by making sure they have everything they need in plenty of time. Whether it’s laying out their uniform the night before or helping them pack their bag (don’t forget the PE kit if they need it), it will head off possibly incendiary moments in the morning as they rush around looking for their socks or bus pass and also allow them to feel in control of what lies ahead.
3 Be open, chatty and confident
Although we’re all a bag of nerves before meeting our new teacher and class, ask your child to think about the sort of impression they want to create. Remind them that no matter how anxious they may be feeling, being as friendly and open as possible will go a long way. If your child is feeling really nervous, why not sit down with them and think of three questions they can ask in order to get know their peers? You could help them think of three facts for them to share about themselves too. They may roll their eyes and think you’re lame, but even if they don’t use them, thinking of them will help take their mind off what’s about to happen.
4 Show an interest
Encourage your child to have a look at what extra-curricular clubs are on offer on the school's website before they start. Not only will this allow them to interact with new teachers, but other pupils too. Whether it’s a choir, debating or sports class, there will be interesting people ready to be met.
5 Remind them that everyone is in the same boat
Your child may know some people from their old school and that’s great, but if not, remind them that many others will have just joined by themselves. No matter how apprehensive they’re feeling, tell them there will be lots of other children feeling exactly the same way. Emphasise that joining a new school marks the start of an exciting new chapter where many people meet new friends and learn new things, rather than letting them dwell on any negative thoughts or feelings.
The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or CEOP.
First published: July 2017
Updated: May 2018