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Changing to a new school

(6 Posts)
Earlybird Sun 23-Sep-07 22:57:22

Questions for parents and teachers: If a child changes to a new school, what do you think helps ensure a successful transition?

I'm especially interested in hearing practical suggestions that might help a child changing to a school where the academic curriculum is different to their previous school. Also would appreciate thoughts about how to help a child integrate into a situation where many friendships are already established.

DD is in this situation, and would have been in Year 2 in London. She has just entered first grade in America.

Eliza2 Mon 24-Sep-07 10:50:04

Could you find out whether there's a local Rainbows (or US equivalent) or popular swimming lesson that many of the others attend?

Or are you able to invite the mothers of "potentials" round for coffee?

ladymuck Mon 24-Sep-07 10:56:25

Making sure that your child is fully kitted out before they start school - double check everything including whether they need pencil cases etc.

Ensuring that they have had a tour of the school first - they won't remember all of it but at least it will look vaguely familiar.

A lot will depend on the turnover of pupils - some schools regularly have new pupils, for others it is more of a rarity. it is worth knowing which category your dd will be in. At the dcs school new pupils are a rarity and so are welcomed with open arms.

Be in the school playground ready to be part of the mafia for a while. It will help with finding out what the culture is like for playdates, parties etc.

Earlybird Mon 24-Sep-07 12:27:26

Thanks for suggestions.

There is a Rainbows group after school for dd's age, but it is at capacity. There is talk of setting up another group, but so far it has come to nothing.

School clothes are fine, and the school provides supplies (parents give an agreed allowance for teacher to purchase so everyone has the same thing), so no worries about not being equipped there.

There is a system where you drive to school doors in a loop and staff are waiting to help children out of cars into the building (virtually everyone drives here). It's very efficient, but means no chance to chat and/or get to know the other mums.

There doesn't seem to be a system of class reps here, so no organised coffee mornings. I have volunteered to help out on Book Day, so will presumably meet/get to know some others there, but will be a cross section from the school and not necessarily dd's class.

We've invited quite a few children for playdates (some 2 or 3 times), but return invitations have been sparse. I know it's not because people don't like dd (or me), and not because they're unfriendly - they're all just very busy with established lives. Their time is committed.

DD is signed up to do 2 after school clubs, so that may help her integrate. She is also doing ballet outside school (no classmates attend). We've started going to church, and there are some nice children who are 4 or 5 years older that attend the same school, and dd is always thrilled to see them.

I think I sound very negative, but I simply feel discouraged. I tell myself it will take time, but in the meantime, it's hard.

Oh - will write later about differences in curriculum, which is another area of concern.

curiouscat Mon 24-Sep-07 12:44:53

Earlybird good luck with all this, as a child I moved schools every two years due to family relocations. The most important thing for me was being assigned at each new school to a sort of classroom playmate, who would show me where the lockers/loos/cafeteria were etc and include me in their group of friends unless and until I was confident enough to make my own friends. I'm sure your dd will be fine, as long as you are upbeat and positive yourself.

I don't remember often having school friends round because schools were never close to home (and it's nice to get away from class mates sometimes) but other girls who were neighbours quickly became good friends. Remember your dd only needs 2 or 3 good friends, don't worry about pleasing a whole class full of strangers.

You're doing everything right so far, just believe in yourself and your dd.

Earlybird Tue 25-Sep-07 15:37:21

curiouscat - thanks for your suggestions and reassurance.

DD seems to be settling after a rocky start - unpleasant children who initially excluded her for being 'weird' (differences perhaps not embraced at this age). Academically it's been a challenge too as the UK curriculum is miles ahead of first grade here, so much of what is being taught is 'old news' and therefore not very interesting for dd.

I'm hoping that adjustment period will be brief (things are better already 5 weeks into the school year). Think I would do well to take a deep breath, followed by a big step back. Things are very different, which doesn't make them worse - just unfamiliar atm which can make for some uncomfortable times in the short term.

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