by Anastasia Allmon Riley

The thought of their child having to leave their friend sand start all over at a new school can give parents pause. Suddenly, excitement for that big promotion or new house becomes concern that their child will not fit in. While friendships are crucial for children’s development, so is learning to pivot and leave one’s comfort zone. With the right approach, transitioning to a new school can be a growth opportunity instead of something negative.

Focus on Keeping a Positive Attitude and Open Mind

Change is at least a little terrifying for almost everyone, regardless of age. People tend to panic immediately and thoroughly analyze every worst-case scenario imaginable. New things are initially frightening because people tend to be afraid of what they don’t know or can’t predict. Undoubtedly, it is especially so for children.

Children are always looking for guidance because they constantly learn and encounter new unknowns daily. Sometimes, they don’t know how they feel about something and look to adults to help them figure it out. Being a role model is why it is essential to focus on positivity, especially during a significant transition. A healthy outlook will go a long way to ease any transition they encounter. If children have positive expectations, new things are less scary, and the “unknown” can be an exciting opportunity for a new adventure.

Being open-minded through the transition goes hand-in-hand with focusing on a positive attitude. While it can be scary not to know exactly what to expect on the other side, it is exciting for the same reason. No one can predict what life will be like, but what if everything turns out better than anyone thought possible? What’s unknown now won’t be unknown forever. Although negativity is easy to come by, maintaining an open mind and a positive outlook will make any transition easier, shorter, and maybe even exciting.

Listen More Than Talk

Listening is a vital part of meeting people, forming new friendships and adapting to new environments. Listening becomes even more critical for parents throughout a transition toa new school or community. Asking questions, actively listening and stressing the importance of communication during change and uncertainty can help a child feel more secure and supported. It’s a great reminder that they are not on this journey alone.

Making friends is not easy and can be incredibly intimidating in a new place, especially when everyone else already knows each other. It’s usually up to the new student to adapt and make new friends. A huge part of transitioning to a new school is learning about the new environment’s culture for both students and parents. Listening more and talking less, especially in an unfamiliar place, will go a long way. Try initiating conversations with anyone and everyone and ask questions. Doing so will both ease and shorten the overall transition. Most people love talking about themselves and this is the time to let them. As the new student, putting effort into getting to know the school and the other students will ease the transition and build a foundation for meaningful friendships down the road.

Get Involved

Nothing forces people to talk to one another for students and parents alike, like school or community events. A new school is a fresh start and a great time to try new things. If the school offers a sport or activity that was not an option before, consider signing up and trying it out. Doing so is a great way to develop a new interest or to realize an unknown talent or skill set.

Signing up for things outside one’s comfort zone without knowing anyone else is understandably not easy. But doing so is one of the best and fastest ways to get plugged in and form new friendships. Getting involved sooner rather than later will make the transition easier, shorter and more enjoyable for both students and parents. The benefits will not disappoint even if it’s something small at first—a once-a-month time commitment or helping with a school event.

Keeping an open mind, learning about the new school’s culture and finding a way to get involved will all make the transition shorter and easier. Moving to a new school doesn’t have to be scary. With the right approach, it can be an adventure.