Transitioning from summer's long days and endless playing is hard enough — add in a new town and a new school, and it can be nerve wracking!
The first and most important step in preparing for a new school year in a new town is to communicate with your children. Talk to them about new school options and, if possible, let them play a role in choosing the school they would like to attend. If you are choosing between a few schools, a website like SchoolQuest (specifically designed for military children) can be very helpful. Discuss with your child what each school has to offer and make a decision together. When it comes time to select specific classes, be sure to include them in that decision-making process as well.
Schedule a meeting with your child's new teacher or principal before the school year starts. This will ease some of the nervous energy about starting fresh at a new school. If possible, arrange for a tour of the school, so on the first day, your child will have a good idea where to find restrooms, classrooms and the cafeteria.
After a school is selected, have a family discussion about expectations. Discuss changes in curriculum and let your child know what grades and study habits you expect from them. This is also a good time to talk about activities your child might like to participate in, and how they will balance them with school work.
Next, ease back into a school routine. This includes starting to set an earlier bed time and waking up a little earlier each day. It's also a good idea to start serving meals and snacks around the same time the kids will be eating in school. Practice the morning before school at least once to avoid any morning meltdowns (this means having backpacks packed, papers signed, outfits picked out, etc. the night before)! Here is a list of ten healthy make-ahead breakfasts for a less stressful morning meal.
Here are some additional resources I believe are helpful to aid in finding a new school and discovering ways to ensure the back to school transition is as smooth as possible.
Military Youth on the Move is a wonderful interactive website that covers topics that will help children deal with the difficult time of moving, saying goodbye, and starting over in a new place.
Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children provides states with common guidelines to follow in handling various issues like class placement, records transfer, immunization requirements, course placement, graduation requirements, exit testing, and extra-curricular opportunities.
National Center for Educational Statistics can be used to search for your new school district to obtain facts such as student/teacher ratio, number of students and enrollment by gender and race.
How do you help your child prepare for a new school year? Please share your advice in the comments.