How to Adjust to a New School

School is a child's base, where they learn to succeed. Adjusting to a new school can be nerve-wracking and scary. When you go to a new school, you might worry that you don’t know anyone or that you won’t fit in. You worry that you might get lost, or if the teachers are strict. As you get into your schoolwork and after-school activities, you’ll find that you’re making friends and life is getting easier. Knowing about your school, preparing for the first day and knowing how to make friends can make this transition a lot easier.



1
Getting to Know the School

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    Take a tour of your school. Before you start the school, go with your parents to visit the school. Find out where your classroom will be, as well as the cafeteria, auditorium, gym and other important places (including the bathroom!) [1]
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    Meet your teachers. Meeting your teachers before you start school will also help you make a smooth adjustment to the new school. Introduce yourself and smile. Being friendly with your teachers will help your transition. Find out some key facts about them, such as what subject they teach, where they teach, their name etc.
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    Read the school handbook. Knowing the school’s policies ahead of time will help make it easier to fit in with the school culture. Get the school handbook from the school or download it from the school’s website. Read through it with your parents so that they can explain policies that might sound confusing to you. If your new school doesn't have a handbook, read the rules and school diary to get used to what is expected.
    • The school handbook might also have some interesting facts about the school, which can help you get acquainted with its history, the students and the teachers.
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    Know the school year calendar. It will be helpful to know when vacation/holiday days are scheduled, as well as half-days and special days like field days or carnivals. Mark these dates on a calendar in your room. This will help you anticipate when you have a short day of school or a day off.

2
Preparing for the First Day

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    Do a practice run of your first day. Before the first day of school, it can help to take a practice run so you know how long it will take to walk, bike or drive to school. Then, know exactly where to go for your first class.[2]
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    Get your school supplies together. Get a list of required school supplies from the school or the school’s website. Go shopping for your supplies and make sure you have them all ready to take to school.[3]
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    Get a good night’s sleep. Start off your first day of school with a good night’s sleep. Being well rested will help fend off any nervousness you may be feeling. Try to get at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep if you’re over 12, or 10 to 11 hours of sleep if you’re between 7 and 11 years old.[4]
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    Eat a good breakfast. You might be too nervous to eat much, but it’s important that you give your body some fuel to get through until lunchtime. Eat something with protein, such as peanut butter toast or eggs.
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    Get your outfit ready. Lay out your outfit for the first day of school the night before. Then you won’t be rushing around for a clean pair of pants or your other shoe in the morning. It will help you start your day off calmly when you can envision yourself walking into school wearing a particular outfit.
    • If you're wearing a school uniform, make sure to get it early and make sure it fits well. Wearing well-fitting clothes will help you feel better about starting a new school.
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    Leave early for school. Make sure you leave lots of time in the morning to get to school. You don’t want to be rushing into your classroom after the bell rings. Arriving early may also give you a chance to chat with a few other students and hopefully make a few new friends.
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    Talk with your parents about your concerns. Your parents have gone through many transitions and have attended new schools. Ask them about how they felt making new friends.
    • Remember that if you have moved to a new town, your parents are also going through a transition and needing to adjust to a new job or to make new friends. You can ask them about their day too, and maybe even give them some pointers on adjusting to a new situation.[5]

3
Doing Your Best at School

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    Learn the rules of the school. Every school has its own set of rules that help students stay safe and learn well. You may need a hall pass to use the bathroom during class, for example. Learning the rules of the school will help you adjust and will keep you out of trouble.
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    Do what your teachers say. When you are starting a new school, you should follow your teachers' instructions very closely. You don’t need to be a brown-noser, but making a good impression with your teachers will go a long way to making a positive adjustment to a new school.
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    Do your homework and try to do well in school. Keeping up with your homework and making a solid effort to do well in school will help with your adjustment. You are already under enough stress with adjusting to a new school that you don’t want to add more stress with poor grades.
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    Make sure you’re placed in the right grade. When you move to a new school, your education so far is assessed and you are placed in your grade. Almost all of the time, this will mean that you are placed in the grade you are expecting (for example, if you left your old school in 4th grade and you’re moving over the summer, you’ll start in 5th grade).[6]
    • If you are in high school, meet with a school counselor to make sure you are on track with prerequisites and graduation requirements.
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    Tell your parents about what went well at school. When you are adjusting to a new school, you might feel lonely or shy. But every day, there are good things that happen, even if they are minor. Telling your parents about these things can help you realize that you are getting used to your school.
    • Examples include: getting a good score on a test, saying hello to someone new, scoring a goal in PE, and so on.

4
Making Friends

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    Learn how to introduce yourself. Introducing yourself and starting a conversation with someone new can be intimidating, especially if you feel shy. Once you break the ice, however, you may find yourself in the middle of a bunch of friends. Choose someone to introduce yourself to. Smile and say hello. Talk about something related to school, such as, “We’re in the same English class,” or “When is the assignment due?”[7]
    • Rehearse your conversation by practicing with your parent, sibling or even your pet.
    • You can also think of other ways to start up a conversation, such as complimenting someone on their clothes or noticing a cool new notebook.
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    Try to meet new people before school starts. Making a new friend or two before school starts can be helpful so that you don’t feel so alone when you go to the first day of school. Go to a park in the school neighborhood, or join a summer camp. It can be helpful to see some familiar faces in your classroom when school starts.[8]
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    Participate in activities. Sign up for activities like drama, sports or chess club. This will put you into smaller groups with people who have similar interests as yours. This will also give you a chance to demonstrate your skills at a particular sport or other activity. You might even be able to teach some other kids about how to do something.[9]
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    Be yourself. It can be exhausting to pretend to be someone else in order to fit in. Try your best to just be yourself. Don’t worry too much about what other people think.
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    Make good decisions about making friends. When you are in a new school, you have the chance to make friends with anybody. It can be tempting to try to fit in with cool kids. You should, however, spend most of your effort making friends with people that you’re comfortable around. It goes back to the idea of being yourself. Who are the people that enjoy your company because of who you are? Who are the people who treat you with respect?
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    Set goals for yourself. By setting goals for yourself every day or every week, you can see how you are adjusting to your new school in very real ways. For example, you can say, “I’ll attend one club meeting this week,” so that when you attend the meeting, you’ll know you’re trying hard to adjust.
    • Another goal is to try saying hello to 3 new people every day.
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    Keep in touch with your old friends. Just because you’ve moved to a new school, that doesn’t mean you can’t have your old friends in your life. Talk to your old friends on the phone or send them emails.[10]
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    Start a conversation with your seatmate is the best way to make a friend.
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    Sharing your experiences during your vacation is the a good start to make your new friend feel comfortable.

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