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Helping the child who is new to a school or area

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/2/2006 | Education

The greatest worry for any child is socializing in a new environment. Peer-group feelings are strong in schools and when a child is uprooted from his old school and leaves his old friends behind, he feels insecure and anxious.

Children react to change differently. Some children welcome change and look forward to meeting new people. But there is a vast majority that feels perturbed over the change. Children usually do not express their fears but their reactions can be judged from their behavior. They may be sad or angry at the loss of old friends and teachers.            

That is why it is essential for parents to understand their childs behavior and make the transition easier. They should refrain from scolding the child for misdemeanor, the inability to socialize or the failure to cope with the academics. It is best to monitor the change, empathize with the child and encourage him to share his feelings.

A trip to the new school and getting acquainted with new friends and teachers will help make the transition easier. You can study the curriculum to understand how much more your child needs to learn. Once the child gets to know his new school, part of the fear vanishes.

Let him keep in touch with his old friends and talk to him about his past performances, especially if he has done well. This combination of the old and the new also wards off insecurity. If the child is taking time to adjust to the new atmosphere, do not press him; let him take his own time to adjust.            

Some parents start preparing weeks ahead of the actual re-opening to infuse enthusiasm in their child. This is a good strategy. The child starts getting accustomed to the idea that he is going to join a new school, and will make new friends. In fact, some children may actually love the idea of making new friends.

You should never ignore complaints made by your child. These are good indicators of the problems he or she is facing or is likely to face. Once you identify the problem area, just try to understand the childs point of view without deriding the child or being over-protective. This way you can increase the confidence levels of your child. It is a child-focused approach in which you listen to him and assure him of you whole hearted support

You should inform the teacher about any problem that your child is suffering from and also notify the medication required to be taken if an emergency arises in the new school.

Please remember that every child adapts in his own way. You must therefore make a realistic assessment of the childs needs, give him the required support and ensure that you have healthy communication with the school because the school staff are the best people to identify the childs problem further. If taken into confidence they can join hands with parents to help the child emotionally, socially and academically.