If you’ve ever been the “new kid” at school, you can certainly attest to the stress, anxiety, sadness, and frustration they can feel. But, being a new student can (and should) be exciting! A new town, new teachers, and new friends mean new opportunities. If your child is going to be the new kid in school, or if you’re a teacher who is looking for some helpful tips and tricks to making a little one feel more welcome, read on! Here are 5 tips that will help any new kid acclimate to their new school setting.
- Make a Vision Board
A child basically gets to reinvent themselves when they walk through the doors of a new school. Help them get off to a great start by determining who they want to be and how they want to be seen before other students make the decision for them. A vision board will help build confidence, set goals, and is a great way to let creative juices flow (which also reduces stress). Simply provide a child with a large piece of poster board or cardboard. Give them items such as magazines and online print outs to browse through, a pair of scissors, some glue, and other artistic accompaniments (like glitter, ribbon, paint, etc.). Explain to cut and paste images onto the board that convey what they want to accomplish or achieve. They can hang their vision board in a spot in your home that they’ll see on a regular basis to keep their spirits high and their ambitions focused; basically allowing them to remain positive every day.
- Throw a Party
Kids love parties, so why not throw a “Get to Know You Party?” Teachers can have a stash of supplies in their closet that they can readily access when they learn they are getting a new student. Spread out a colorful table cloth, set up some party hats and horns, and bring in a few snacks and drinks. When the class sees that the table is set up, they’ll receive the visual cue that a new student will be arriving. Excitement and positivity will be in the air. The new student will also feel special because a party was thrown in their honor and everyone will be a stakeholder in the celebration of their arrival. Don’t forget to take pictures, play music, and play games to break the ice and make the student feel part of the class right away!
- Plan A Visit
After school lets out, plan to make a visit with your child. This will help them feel more at ease. The school will also be empty so there won’t be any pressure. They will get a sense of the building, where their class is located, and they may even get to meet their teacher. The first school day will go smoother and reduce any anxiety that may be brewing. It’s also a great time to slip the teacher a note with any pertinent information you want them to know about your child so they can be on board with the transition right from the get go.
- Set Up a Mentor System
In order for a new student to feel as though they have an instant “friend” on their first day, a mentor system should be established. Students who demonstrate exemplary behavior socially and academically are great candidates. Teachers may even choose to make being a mentor to a new student a special reward and job in their classroom. A mentor can walk the new student around the building, eat lunch with them, share supplies if needed, and help them set up their desk and locker. The mentor should check in with the teacher at the end of each day and update them on any questions or concerns that the new student has.
- Host a Lunch
At the end of the new student’s first week, invite the student’s family in to have lunch with you. It’s a nice gesture and will make the new student feel less homesick. It’s also a great time to have an informal conference with the parents and to update them on how the student is doing. You may even wish to have the guidance counselor or an administrator stop by to spend a few minutes with the student and family as well, to provide total peace of mind or to recommend some additional activities that can help accommodate a new student to their new school (literature to read, attend community events, sign up for a sport, etc.).
Being a new student can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. When both parents and the school makes an outstanding effort, a student will feel at ease and happy to be in their new surroundings.