Let’s face it: moving from kindergarten to first grade can be an overwhelming experience; so can transitioning from elementary school to middle school, or middle school to high school. In many ways, kids can be totally unprepared for what to expect as they move from one grade level to the next. So how can parents help with this transition?
Pay a Visit
Before the end of the school year or possibly before school starts the following year, take your child to his or her new classroom. If possible, do it at the end of the school year and again a few days before school starts. Getting them familiar with the new classroom might ease your child’s apprehension as they enter a new grade level.
Meet and Greet
Meet with your child’s new teacher before the school year begins. Have your child ask questions. Find out what is expected of your child in their new grade. If it’s not possible to meet with your child’s new teacher, arrange a meeting with your child’s current teacher to ask about expectations for the next grade level.
Find out if any children near you are moving to the same grade level. If so, get in touch with the parents and arrange for the children to get together over the summer. Seeing a familiar face or two in a new grade can certainly help with the transition process.
If changing grade levels also includes moving to a new school, such as from middle school to high school, make it a point to attend an orientation. This will give your child a chance to tour their new academic setting and meet other kids going into the same grade. If your child’s school has a website and you cannot attend an orientation, take a virtual tour of the school if the website offers such an option.
Face the Big Issues
Ask your child what worries him or her the most about moving to the next grade level and ease that fear first. For example, if it’s that the work might be too hard, try to get some samples of the work for that grade and spend some time preparing your child to meet these academic expectations.
Ease into a New Schedule
Don’t wait for the first morning of school to get your child up and off early. Start about a week before school to set an alarm to get your child up earlier. Organize what your child will need a few days before school begins. Being organized and prepared can help to remove some of the anxiety your child might be feeling.
Even if you are feeling some anxiety yourself, do your best not to convey this to your child. Bring up only positive aspects about their promotion to the next grade level and don’t let them focus on negatives or potential problems.