5 Ways Students Can Make the Most of Moving to a New School

6 min to read
A Learning Coach mother and her daughter smiling at one another.

Moving to a new school can be a big deal for kids, but especially for teenagers. Whether they are starting a new school at the beginning of the school year or switching to a new school in the middle of the semester, it’s a transition that is laden with emotions, concerns, hopes, worries, expectations, and so much more. 

Helping students adjust to new schools is a responsibility you are expected to take on as their Learning Coach, but it doesn’t have to be daunting! Learn how you can help your middle or high school student make the most of the opportunity that a new school presents, and how you can help them work through tough feelings associated with this sort of change. 

How to Help Your Child Make the Most of Their New School

If you want to take a hands-on role in helping your child navigate the waters of moving to a new school, here are five helpful ways that you can support them and give them some tools for success. 

1. Encourage them to set some goals for the school year ahead.

Goal-setting helps students feel focused, empowered, and positive about their future, and their potential to achieve. When your child is thinking about how to deal with moving schools, encourage them to use this transition time as an opportunity to visualize what they want their new school experience to look like and commit to certain goals. 

What are some things they want to do? Maybe try a new extracurricular, make new friends, take a new class they’re excited about? What do they want their life to look like at their new school? How do they want to keep and build connections with their peers?

Before classes begin, sit down with your teen for a goal-setting session to help them put some of these ideas on paper and come up with a plan for success.

2. In times of change, help them focus on what they can control.

If your student seems especially apprehensive about adjusting to a new high school, one of the best ways you can help them feel more positive is by focusing their attention on what they can control. This is the principle described by the “locus of control theory,” which essentially means that the more in control of our lives and our surroundings we feel, the more positive we feel as a result. If we can shift our mindset to a more “internal” locus of control— meaning that we realize how much of our thoughts, actions, and circumstances are within our control—we can start to feel more optimistic about our lives.  

Creating a schedule for their new learning environment, whether in-person or virtual, can be one of your child’s greatest assets in feeling in control and set up for success in their new school. Help them create and stick with some positive time management habits to give them a leg up on their new load of homework, studying, and school projects.  

A parent helping her student learn how to adjust to a new school.

3. Honor and acknowledge their feelings.

As a parent, it’s natural to want to find the “silver lining” in your child’s problems with the intention of helping them see the good in seemingly negative scenarios. However, the last thing a teen wants to be told when they are sharing a worry or fear is a quick “It’s not that bad” or “You’ll be fine.”  

Instead, one of the best ways to show empathy to your struggling teen is to validate their feelings. Listen to what they have to say, and before jumping into “fix it” mode, affirm their experience. More often than not, your child wants a chance to vent and express how they’re feeling, and sometimes just feeling seen and heard is enough to fix it.  

4. Create an environment that encourages openness.

If you have a teenager, you know how tough it can be to get them to open up to you. A transition to a new school is likely to bring with it some big feelings, both positive and negative, and can easily create an environment where your child feels overwhelmed. And overwhelm – or a lack of confidence in how to deal with feelings – can lead to them keeping all those feelings in, rather than dealing with them head-on. 

You can help your teen learn how to deal with moving schools by providing them with lots of space and opportunities to share what they’re feeling when they are feeling up to it. And a great place to do this is in the car. Multiple studies have found that riding together in a car with someone, especially a family member, can provide an ideal space for connected conversation and honest sharing. Use the time when you are driving with your teen to ask them about how things are going in their new school. What are they excited about? What’s challenging? If you keep extending the olive branch and creating a space that’s safe and open for dialogue, they’ll be more likely to share.  

5. Show an interest in the new school.

Another great strategy for helping your child with adjusting to a new high school is to lead by example. If your student hasn’t yet, take the time with them to learn about their new school. What are new courses or extracurricular offerings it may have that their last school did not? What are some fun facts about the school and its history? What are some fun events that the school is known for doing?  

And the sooner you can start researching the new school, the better! This is also a great strategy if you have more tactical questions at the beginning of the school transition process, like “how to enroll in a new high school?” If you’re invested, your child is more likely to find things to get excited about in their new school as well.  

Every child is different, which means they’re all going to approach and adapt to change in their own unique way. As their Learning Coach, modelling positivity, staying patient, and leaning on these five tips to help your student through the journey of moving to a new school; before you know it, your child will be as optimistic about the transition as you are. 

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