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January 4th, 2010

Starting a New School in January

Sometimes children and teens start a new school in January. Perhaps the family has moved, or decides a new school would be a better fit. For some of these youngsters, instead of having carefree thoughts over the Christmas break, they may have concerns about their new school such as, What if I don’t fit in? What if nobody likes me? Who will I sit with at lunch? What if the work is too hard? These thoughts are normal and natural – after all, going to a new school is a big transition, with many unknowns.

There are a number of ways a parent or family member can help a young person face this challenge of starting over in a positive light. For starters, have a frank discussion with the child, listening carefully to any fears and worries. Visit the new school beforehand if you can, so the child knows how to find the classrooms, gym, cafeteria, and bathrooms. Maybe the child will be taking a new bus or a new route to school. Preparation is a big part of how you can help.

One of the biggest worries young people have about starting a new school is making new friends. Encourage the child to stay in touch with friends from the old school. At the same time, encourage making new contacts. Present realistic expectations, such as talking to several new kids in the first week. Schools are used to “the new kid,” so avail yourself of the school’s resources, such as teachers, school counselors, and school psychologists.

If, after some time, you notice your child or teen is not making a good adjustment, there is another resource available. Tool Kits for Kids LLC has created “emotional first aid kits” to help young people feel stronger and more secure when faced with change. The Charge Up Your Confidence Tool Kit for Kids teaches 20 powerful strategies to boost self-esteem and improve social competence. These emotional life skills are just what’s needed when a young person feels uneasy about starting a new school mid-year. In this Tool Kit, children quickly learn to think in confident and strong ways, act in confident ways, and learn methods to deal with self-doubt, loss, criticism, and mistakes. This Tool Kit comes in two editions, one designed for ages 5 to 11, and the other for ages 11 to 18.

Another of our Tool Kits, the Outsmart Your Worry Tool Kit for Kids, helps anxious and nervous kids handle situations with a realistic and positive outlook. This Tool Kit also comes in two editions, one for Elementary School children, and one for teens in High School/Middle School. Kids learn how to turn down the volume of worried thoughts and replace them with competent and accurate thoughts, which gets them ready for new experiences.

Starting a new school in January can be empowering, especially when given the right tools to keep confidence steady and minimize fear. Learning to handle change well prepares children and teens for the many important new situations to come.