Change isn’t all bad


Don’t let change be such a scary thought for your child. Instead be prepared, read our tips from our experts, and help your little one transition smoothly, be it to a new classroom, school or host country. 


By Donna Townsend


As the end of the school year approaches, teachers and head teachers turn their thoughts towards helping children through their forthcoming transitions. Whether this is helping to prepare them for their first day at school, their new class or a move to a new school or country.

It’s critical that a child is prepared for the changes taking place and there are many things schools and parents can do to help make the transitions smooth.

First of all open communication between home and school is essential. If your child’s behaviour changes at home, for example if they experience a loss of appetite, disturbed sleep, become irritable or withdrawn, this may be a sign that they are concerned about the upcoming changes. By sharing this information with the class teacher you can help to ease the worries your child has.

International teachers are usually experienced in working with children who are from transient families and they will have had experience of preparing children to move to the next class. Use their experience and expertise and talk about strategies that will help your child.

Popular strategies used in schools are to tell the children who their class teacher will be before the end of the school year. The children are often introduced to the new teacher, either in person or through a presentation, which a new teacher may send to the school if they have not yet arrived in the country. This helps the child to break down any preconceived ideas they may have had about their “new teacher.”

Another strategy is to take the child to their new classroom, sometimes this will be in another building and the thought of moving can be daunting for some children. Experienced teachers will be able to comfort the children and make the experience positive. Schools may also introduce the younger children to the older children’s playground if they are about to move to that year group. This will be done sensitively and with supervision to allow the children the time to explore and experience the bigger playground with the comfort and support of their current teachers.

As parents you can talk about the new teacher. You can discuss the positive attributes of the teacher with your child and allay any fears they have.

If you are moving to a new school taking your child for a visit or showing them pictures on the internet is another way of helping them to feel more confident.  During the school holidays you could make a scrapbook which your child could take in to school on their first day. Often having a physical item to show helps the child to feel more confident about sharing news of the holidays with a new class.

If your child is young and attending school for the first time send them with any comforter they use at home. This will help them to feel more comfortable on their first day. Share your child’s likes and dislikes with the class teacher and if your child does not communicate in English let the teacher know the key words your child uses for using the bathroom and for letting you know if they are hungry or thirsty.

Saying goodbye is important for children. You can help them to say goodbye in many ways, make a thank you card for their current teacher. Write about the fun things they did in that class and think about what they are excited about for their new class. Take photographs of their current teacher and friends so that you can talk about them during the holiday, reminding your child that they will have a new teacher when school returns but that their friends may still be in the same class.

By preparing your child and by approaching the changes in a positive manner you will help to ease many of their concerns. You are a role-model for your child and if they see that you are happy about the changes, they will feel more confident and will in turn be happy.

*previously published in Expat Ladies

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