Even though I have 13 years of experience as an educator, I am somewhat of a “newbie” this year. After working at the same school for 11 years, I am working at a new school. I’m transitioning from a private school to a public school. I have new administrators, new colleagues, new expectations, new responsibilities, a new commute (and longer) commute, a new sign-in time (which is earlier), new procedures, new acronyms to remember, new paperwork, etc. It can be quite overwhelming if I let my mind go there.
Now think about a child who will be starting school soon. He/she will be experiencing many of the same things…especially if it is a new school. There will be a new building to navigate, new teachers, new children, new expectations, new responsibilities, new activities, etc.
So…what can we do to make it better?
Learn as much as you can BEFORE you go. Look through the school’s website. Many schools have their school’s history, videos and photos of fun events, a newsletter, information and pictures of the administration and teachers, the lunch menu, the schedule, etc. There is so much you can learn ahead of time just from the website.
If your school offers an opportunity to visit and meet the teachers BEFORE the first day of school, go and take your child with you. Let your child ask questions and/or tell their new teacher about themself (whatever they are comfortable doing). While you are there, ask if you can walk around the school to familiarize your child (and yourself) with the school. Point out and talk about things you see, such as the:
- water fountains
- library/media center
- music room
- bus pickup/dropoff
- car rider pickup/dropoff
- nurse’s office
- school store
Also point out any “landmarks” that you notice and talk about the importance of it. For example, “Look at that flag painted on the wall. It is right outside of the library.” Doing this type of “walk-through” was one of the most helpful things that one of my new co-workers did with me on the first day…and it kind of happened by accident. She was telling me that I would need to get a copy code for the copiers. I added it to my list and then asked where the copiers were located. It hadn’t really dawned on either of us that I would need to know little details like that.
2) Positive attitude
Focus on all the positives of this new experience. It’s an opportunity to make new connections and learn more about different people and topics. However, don’t dismiss their concerns. Listen to them and try to help them think of possible solutions. You could talk about different ways to address their concern and give suggestions on how you’ve handled a similar situation in the past.
Starting something new can be a little scary (even for adults). However, I believe that a little bit of preparation and positivity can go a long way.