Change can be hard for anyone, at any age. This school year is particularly challenging for our oldest daughter who will be a junior at a new school.
She’s excited about this change, but with it comes anxiety of the unknown. As a parent, I’m trying to do everything I can to provide my daughter with the tools she needs to feel empowered and confident to navigate this big change. I’ve also asked other parents for advice and hope that if you have an older one making this big change this will help you too.
7 Tips for Kids Starting a New School
- Learn about the New School. Anxiety often stems a fear of the unknown. So, together, my daughter and I are learning everything we can about her new school. We checked out the website and learned about clubs and extracurriculars. Help your teen figure out if they want to try something new or continue something familiar.
- Get Guidance. With the help from a fabulous guidance counselor, she was able to choose her classes ahead of time and even get into classes she might not have without her counselor. Get to know your new guidance counselor immediately and ask as many questions as necessary to help your teen adjust.
- Encourage a Fresh Start. If your teen attended the same elementary and middle school, it’s possible your teen’s identity as a math whiz, cheerleader, athlete is deeply engrained in the minds of their peers. And that can be constraining. Now is a great time to remind your teen that at this new school, no one has preconceived notions about who they are. It’s their chance to reinvent themselves. A fresh start can help your teen become an even better version of themselves! They can create positive change for their life and surround themselves with the types of friends they want in this new phase.
- Make New Friends. Nothing helps more than seeing a few familiar faces when you’re the new kid. When we first moved into our neighborhood, my husband did a great job finding a few families with teens our daughter’s age who offered to host a pool party. Even though they have a son, one family invited every girl they could think of to help our daughter meet other girls her age. This helped us tremendously! We also signed her up for lacrosse, which is a year-round sport. This enabled her to quickly make a few friends who will be at her new school. If your teen is shy like mine, it’s a good idea to help them make a plan for meeting new people and making friends. Joining a club or playing a sport is a great start.
- Encourage Maintaining Old Friendships Too. Social media and cell phones make it easier than ever for teens to stay in touch with old friends. Encourage them that making new friends is important, but so is staying in touch with old friends. It can be so comforting to confide in old friends about new experiences and challenges.
- Know When to Call in the Pros. If you notice your teen is struggling a lot or is experiencing anxiety that is interfering with their lives, consider seeking therapy for them. Anxiety and depression around major life changes is incredibly common, and a good therapist can help your child with tools to navigate the change and feel better.
- Give Extra Attention and TLC. Be sure to keep a careful eye on grades, sleep, eating habits, and exercise. Get to know teachers and communicate with the school to check in and see how your teen is adjusting. While you’re helping them prepare to soon leave the nest, they may appreciate some extra TLC right now.