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Settling Children into a New School

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 10 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Relocation Moving School Kids Primary

Settling your children into a new school after a move can be a daunting task – it doesn’t matter what age they are. Not only do they have to cope with a new home and new surroundings, they’re suddenly strangers in what’s really a closed community.

The best time to move is before the start of a school year, or at least before the beginning of a new term, but that’s not always possible, and putting your kids into the new environment in the middle of term only makes things harder.

Before You Move

Take your kids and visit the area where you’ll be living. Point out the house, tour the neighbourhood, and, very importantly, show them the school – don’t be afraid to peek through the windows, too; it offers a more concrete sense of where they’ll be. Tell them all you know about the area, where the shops are, buses, everything that they might use.

Visit the school yourself so you can tell them about it. Talk to the people who will be teaching them and also the head teacher to form an idea of the place. Give your kids all the details you can to prepare them.

When buying the school uniform, make sure you have everything right. There’s nothing worse for a new kid than starting at a school to discover they have the uniform wrong; it leaves them feeling even more isolated.


Be sure you emphasise all the positive aspects of the move to your children – better job, better location, better schools. Since they have plenty of adjustments to make, let them decide on how to arrange and decorate their rooms, so they feel some sense of control in the new surroundings. At the same time, try and keep plenty of familiar routines about mealtimes, where items are in the kitchen and so on.

Inevitably, they’ll miss their old friends; that’s especially true with teenagers. You’d better be prepared for mood swings. Encourage them to stay in touch with the people they know and to have friends visit and stay.

If possible, time the move so they have a few days to become familiar with the new area before they start school. It will help their confidence.

At School

On the first day, take your kids in early and go with them to meet their teachers. In primary schools, teachers will often assign another pupil as a buddy to help them settle in for the first week. It’s a good system, helping them adjust and make friends more easily.

Older kids, though, tend to be on their own, so finding friends and social groups can become a lot more difficult.

During this initial time, talk to your kids a lot. It’s not unusual for marks to go down as they adjust, and you need to keep your eyes and ears open for any sign of bullying the new kids, and act appropriately if it happens.

Encourage your children to socialise with other kids from school, inviting them over and going to their houses. You need to understand, though, that they won’t feel comfortable and as if they fit in immediately. It’s going to take a term before they feel a part of things. Gradually, though, it will happen. Accept they’ll feel unsettled and worried at first, even if they don’t say so. Be positive in your outlook, listen to what they say, and things will end up just fine.

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