Inside: Are your kids heading to a new school this fall? Here’s how to help your kids adjust to a new school quickly.
My three kids were the new kids at school three times in three years.
We moved from Los Angeles to Boston to Chicago and back to Los Angeles.
That’s a lot of change in a very short period of time for anyone.
But especially for young children.
So I spent a lot of time worrying about my kids’ mental health.
I worried if they would adjust to their new surroundings and the new schedules and the new playground dynamics:
Would they fit in?
Would they find friends?
Would they be bullied?
And while my kids were quick to adapt and adjust and they did, in fact, make incredible friends in each of their new schools, there are several things we did to help our kids adjust to a new school quicker.
Why Kids Need to Find Ways to Fit into Their New School
I don’t need my kids to change who they are to fit in with the kids in their new school.
But I do want them to find ways to make new friends quickly.
Because friends are the quickest way to bully-proof our kids. They provide a circle of comfort and ward of loneliness and help our kids feel like they belong.
Plus having friends at school get kids more excited to go to school.
And when our kids are their true selves, they will find their true friends.
But sometimes, small adjustments or encouragement from us can help speed up the process of finding friends.
Especially when they’re new to the school and know no one.
Tips to Help Kids Adjust to a New School Before School Starts
1. Take a tour of the school before school starts
Reach out to the school and see if your kids can get a sneak peek of the school before the first day.
Show them the cafeteria, gym, and bathrooms.
When our kids know where they’ll be walking in on the first day of school, they’ll feel more confident.
2. Ask the office for names of kids in your new neighborhood
Some schools will help you connect with other families in your new neighborhood.
Our Boston school gave me an early class list so I could set up play dates with future classmates over the summer. Heading into school already knowing friends can be a game changer for feeling more comfortable.
3. Invite the Back to School Fairies to visit your home
One of our family’s favorite back to school traditions is having the Back to School Fairies come for a visit.
It always gets my kids excited to go back to school, no matter where their school is.
4. Prep for an IEP if necessary
My eldest daughter has low vision and requires an IEP. If your child requires an IEP or a 504, you’ll want to reach out to the school as soon as possible to so accommodations and modifications can be planned and ready for your student on Day 1.
My daughter was relieved to know her new school knew about her vision and what she needed to be successful.
5. Prep for a Food Allergy if necessary
My son has a severe food allergy and we need to have plans in place before my son steps foot on campus. All of his medicine was set up and ready in the nurse’s office. His teacher knew how to keep him safe. And the school knew how serious his medical needs are.
6. Meet with the Principal to let them know the kind of teacher your child would thrive with
Oftentimes, the new kids get shoved into any class where there’s a spot.
But I meet with the principals of my kids’ schools to “introduce” them to the principal and let them know what kinds of teachers my kids would thrive with.
My son and daughter each got put in with the perfect teacher for them because the new principal really listened and heard what I had to say.
7. Start a School Countdown Paper Chain To Get Excited for School
Another great way to get kids excited to head back to school is to create a school countdown paper chain.
My kids can visually see how many days are left until their 1st day of school and we can all get prepared together.
Tips to Help Kids Adjust to a New School When School Starts
1. Purchase school spirit clothes or colors to help kids adjust to a new school
My kids have red t-shirts and purple t-shirts so they can wear similar clothes as everyone else on Spirit Fridays. I also purchase a t-shirt or sweatshirt with each of the school logos on it so they feel like they belong at their school.
My kids have been proud Bobcats, Lions, and Owls. And they know all the school songs to prove it.
2. Encourage them to sign up for a popular hobby or sport or club
In an effort to meet new friends and partake in activities that classmates were involved in, we signed up our kids for popular local activities.
My daughter and son each joined local scouting troops. We signed up for soccer and baseball and karate. And my eldest daughter joined the school’s Chorus and signed up for the Talent Show.
3. Allow them to partake in what’s being traded and collected
In Boston, everyone collected and traded Shopkins. So we bought a starter pack for my daughter because that was her “ticket in” to play at recess.
In Chicago, the going collection was Pokemon cards so we got my son a starter pack. We said ‘yes’ to simple things and my kids were able to partake in the trading and collecting with their new friends, rather than watching on the sidelines.
4. Purchase a local sports team’s hat
My son has been a Dodger fan, a Red Sox fan, and a Cubbies fan. He’s now back in Dodger territory and he refuses to wear his old team hats.
He wants to fit in with the boys at recess and the quickest way is to wear the local team gear.
5. Linger at pick up to get to know the other parents
One of the quickest ways to help our kids make friends is to get to know the other parents.
If it can be hard for our kids to make friends, it’s hard for us too.
But meeting other parents was one of the fastest ways for our whole family to fit into our new neighborhood. Me meeting other parents was how my kids got play dates, I got friends, and I figured out who to write down as my kids’ emergency contact.
6. Volunteer to get to know the other parents
Another simple way to meet other parents and get to know the inner workings of the school is to volunteer with the PTA or PFA.
Attending the school fundraisers and social events is important too, but when you volunteer at the school, it helps you all meet new school families.
7. Help them with oils
I send my kids to school with oils to help them adjust to their new school.
Because new schools mean different germs, we are constantly using Thieves oil when we head to school.
I put a few drops of Thieves oil onto cotton balls and stick them in a plastic travel container. I then put them in my daughter’s backpack and have her sniff it a couple of times a day throughout fall and winter to ward off cold germs and give her an immunity boost.
I do the same thing with Stress Away oil and a Be Brave blend to help calm my kids’ nerves and anxiety. I use the cotton ball in a jar mom hack or I send them with a roller stick they can apply to their wrists.
Because between being the new kid at school and having to deal with new routines and schedules, I also send it with them to help ease anxiety on test days.
My kids love having a familiar from home and some extra emotional support on harder days.
Interested in oils? Click here.
8. Ask the teacher for playdate suggestions
My youngest daughter found friends on the first day of school. But the girls who befriended her weren’t the nicest of girls. And they inspired her to act like a mean girl. Which is not okay.
So I reached out to her teacher and asked her who the kind girls were so I could set up play dates with girls who would make better, kinder friends.
Because at the end of the day, we want our kids to love their new school.
And they’ll love their new school if they can adjust to their new school quickly.
Even if that means searching for purple t-shirts my son is willing to wear on Spirit Day.