Moving to a new location can be a cause for anxiety for adults–what more for children who are transferring into an international school in Manila. While adjustments vary depending on the child’s age due to the unique challenges the experience presents, this need not be anxiety-filled. As parents, we can help them adjust gradually to their new environment. But if you are a parent who is equally distressed about the entire transfer and transition, pay heed to these tips.
Tips on how to help your child adjust to a new environment
Indeed, transferring to a new environment is a process, and adapting to the new learning environment should be a process, too. Integral to it is the varying stress levels that both parents and their children will face For parents, it would be difficult to move past the stress and anxiety if you don’t know what fuels these exactly.
So sit down with your kid and have a heart-to-heart with him. You must create an avenue where your child can talk freely about what bothers him or what his fears are. There may be circumstances that are beyond your control. But for those you can control, you can address these ahead of time.
For instance, if she fears having no friends at her new school, you may arrange a meetup with her classmates at the park before the first day of school. Or, invite them to your house for a quick getting-to-know-you. If your son says he hates to navigating a bigger school, bring him to the school to explore it. In this way, he would know where his classroom will be, the locker room, gym, cafeteria, playground, etc.
The new school comes with new teachers, classmates, workloads, routines, and this can be quite overwhelming. So there is no need to give the child more pressure at home, especially since he is already academically, emotionally, and socially burdened. Stop bogging him down with questions that he is not willing to answer yet. Let the transition take its natural course.
While at it, keep your child engaged by introducing him to new people and activities outside the school. This is also the reason why you should have done your due diligence in knowing what child-friendly activities are available in your new neighborhood ahead of time. Again, this forms part of acclimating your child to the new environment–not just the school.
If you can, stay with your child at home for the first week of his transition. For instance, your son will feel more comfortable with the new environment if you are with him at crucial times, such as bringing him to or picking him up from school and you can start having casual conversations with his teachers and other parents. The more you interact with the people around him, the better he will cope with the new situation.
Consider doing these things:
Routines establish familiarity and familiarity breeds comfort. So if they have routines or schedules at their old school, continue with these in their new school. For instance, the child may still wake at the same time every morning and have breakfast by 7:30 am with the whole family before each member braves the day. These things help the child adapt to the new situation with minimal effort.
Routines also change from time to time, like in this situation. Therefore, you need to have room for flexibility to reduce challenging behaviors such as not wanting to go to school and staying in his room most of the day. After all, routines need to be changed as your child gets older and the family experiences a significant life transition such as relocating to the city or another country.
New family routines can help. Some examples are:
Whatever they may be, the best routines are established when the children themselves are involved in making them. This gives them a sense of ownership of what they want to do throughout the day. Also, it provides them a sense of accomplishment when they succeed at creating something that the entire family will enjoy and participate in.
Anxiety manifests itself in sleep or lack thereof. As parents, you need to ensure that your child is getting enough sleep. Adequate sleep varies, though; it should be between nine and eleven hours for children aged 6 to 13 years.
This is where the role of routines comes into play. In helping your child build healthy sleeping habits and getting quality sleep every night, you may do these things:
You need to be careful in addressing this issue because children react to situations differently. For example, if your daughter would rather sleep in her room all day on a Saturday instead of meeting new friends outside, this might be a sign that she is having difficulty adapting to the new situation. On the other hand, this could be her coping mechanism in some instances.
Thus, it is best to observe the physical changes that your child is experiencing after the move and react accordingly. If things concern you, talk to your child or an expert to understand the depths of what your child is going through.
Some children react to major life events differently. Some would transition and adapt more quickly than others. For example, outgoing children make new friends easily. However, some introverted children may find socialization a struggle. That’s why it is vital to observe whether your child is adjusting to the new school or not.
The best way to know if your child is doing well with the transition or not is by asking him directly. This is the reason why keeping open and constant communication is critical.
When adjusting to a new school, your child must see you as an ally and a confidante. You are in this together, so be as open as you can. He can model the same behavior, telling you about his experiences inside and outside the school.
Be aware of the signs that your child is ready and willing to share about what happened in the school playground. Build on what he was telling you or wanted to say to you. This also means looking for signs that he wants to talk to you about something. When this happens, take the time to listen to what he has to say and understand what he is going through from his perspective.
Changing schools is a disruptive experience for any child regardless of age. However, parents can always minimize the negative impact of a move by showing support to their children. Indeed, the amount of time it takes for one child to settle in the new environment happily depends on the extent of support that he receives. Thus, be physically and emotionally aware and present as much as you can.