By Deborah Williams
Entering a new school can be the cause of much stress for a child, and that’s true even when that child is not new to the area. An article on the Medical Express website reminds us that the “transition grades”—grades one, six, and nine—can be stressful, too. The truth is that whenever a child starts the year in a different building, he or she often stresses about how to fit in the new population.
Parents might find suggestions from one expert, University of Alabama at Birmingham associate professor Josh Klapow, worth considering when trying to help their children. Klapow’s first suggestion is for parents: See your child’s counselor as a child advocate, and form a partnership with him or her. He suggests at least once appointment with the counselor either with or without your child. Also, let the school know of significant changes in your child’s home situation (e.g., “changing to a different school system, hitting a growth spurt, or experiencing a parental divorce”) because they can affect your child’s stress level as well.
Klapow’s suggestions for children follow:
- Make social connections before going back to school. A familiar face can reduce stress.
- Parents of children 12 or younger should notify the school/teacher/counselor about any family changes.
Preteens and teens can be reluctant to discuss what is bothering them. Ask open-ended questions and let them talk to you about what they think will help their situation.
Finally, Klapow cautions parents to be watchful for any change in their children but be aware that children need time to adjust and to switch into their new situation.