How to help your child deal with being the new kid at school

School can be a scary place for a new kid. If you've just moved to Singapore or your mini-me has recently switched schools, here's what you need to know...

When you’re an expat kid, you’re bound to be the new kid at school more than once. After all, your family never stays in one place for more than a few years at a time. And that means every time you make a great group of friends, you’ll eventually end up saying goodbye to them – sob! Although living in Singapore is awesome, it doesn’t make it any easier for our little ones to adjust to their new school and make new friends.

As someone who’s always been the new kid at school, I’ve found that with each move, it became much easier to adapt to my new environment. I was used to the whole being introduced to everyone routine, making new friends and learning the ins and outs of my new schools. It took a while for me to build up my confidence, but know this – your child will eventually get there too! Whether you’ve just moved to Singapore and your kid is having a tough time adjusting, or you have a child who’s recently switched schools, here’s what could help:

Think of it as an adventure 

Being in a new place means starting fresh! It’s the perfect chance for little ones to try something completely new, something that’s completely unlike them. Encourage your child to go out of their comfort zone and sign up for extracurricular classes they never would have tried before. This way, they’ll not only make new friends, but friends who are interested in other things.

Know that they’ll miss their old school every once in awhile 

The older a child is, the easier it is for them to become attached to a certain place or people. And you can expect them to feel sentimental about these for a while. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about being homesick. It’s a slow and painful process but reassurance from parents can be a great source of comfort for kids. Sooner or later, they’ll grow out of it but until then, expect that it will happen and be there for them as much as you can.

Help them stay in touch with their friends 

If it’s their first move, being separated from their friends will be, to be frank, absolutely heartbreaking. If you have a younger child, take the initiative to befriend your child’s friend’s parents and swap contact and social media details. Promise your child that you will help them stay in touch with their friends and keep that promise until they’re comfortable.  Being in touch with friends will help ease your child in their new environment and give them the confidence in knowing that they still have friends, even if they haven’t made any new ones.

See things from their point of view 

The younger your child is, the more difficult it is for them to understand why Grandma won’t be able to come or why Amy won’t be able to sleepover anymore. They worry about the most inane, unexpected things and haven’t really grasped the concept of time, space and distance, so understanding why they have to move schools or countries may be quite difficult for them. Knowing all this will help your kids understand everything a little bit better and make it easier for you to explain things.

Ease them in

Before your child starts school, make the first day less overwhelming by paying the school a visit together. It will help your child get a feel for their new school and also give them a chance to meet their new teachers. This way, come the first day at school, they won’t feel so lost. It might even make them feel better about being a new kid!

Remember, moving to a new school can feel daunting to a little person. Every little thing adds up to getting off on the right foot. And the more confident and comfortable they feel, the happier they’ll be – a win-win for everyone!

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