I will never forget my first day of 4th grade at a brand new school. We had PCSed from Reese AFB, Lubbock, Texas to Scott AFB, Illinois and once again I was the new kid. I am not sure when exactly Spelling class was that day and I can’t remember the teacher’s name anymore but there I sat at my new desk, amongst all new faces and I started to cry. I was dying. So overwhelmed. So embarrassed. Unacknowledged. Feeling friendless. It was an awful feeling.
I can take myself back to that moment instantly and have empathy for /any/ student that is starting a new school. I even remind my own boys to take the time to get to know new faces because the new students /need/ friends; “Your mom was one of those new faces so very often.”
What do you do to help your child in a new school? My 8 year old will soon be starting a new school in the same school district. So the same friends but it is a new school to him and he is very nervous. Nervous enough to have actually thrown up a couple of times these past two weeks. I listen to his fears and don’t treat him like they are unfounded. They are real feelings. Real anxieties. We remain positive though and talk about meeting new friends, seeing old friends, all the excitement that this new school-year will unfold.
Open House is next week and we will get there early enough that we can find his classroom, meet his teacher, explore the class, but then walk around the building a bit too. We’ll find the cafeteria, the restrooms, the gym and just get grounded before the big day. He knows this and he appreciates it. It helps him get past the anxiety attack knowing someone is in his corner.
Elaine Wilson from the American Forces Press Service had a few more good tips in “Tips Ease Transition to New School“:
— Keep a positive focus. As the first day draws near, begin talking to your children about their expectations, hopes and fears for the upcoming school year. Reassure them that other children are having the same feelings.
— Encourage school involvement. Though you don’t want your children to become over-committed, it’s important to encourage participation in one or two activities. They’re more likely to be engaged academically if they feel connected through a school activity, club or sport.
— Get enough Zs. If your children have enjoyed a vacation of late nights and lazy mornings, getting them up for school on the first day can be difficult. Help make this transition easier by starting their school-year sleep routine a week or two in advance.
— Take a trial run. Take some time before the start of school to make sure you and your child know where to go and what to do on that first morning. Show your child where the bus stop is or map out the safest walking route to school, avoiding vacant lots and places where there aren’t a lot of people. Warn your child to always walk with a friend and scout out safe houses to go to in case of emergency. If possible, visit the classroom ahead of time so your child knows exactly where to go that first day.
What are you doing to help your military-brat? One of the very hardest aspects of the military lifestyle is the transition to a new school after a PCS. But with the right tools, the right attitude and a lot of love you know they will be successful!