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School Transitions

Wed, 22 Aug 2012|

-Changing schools because of a move or because your child graduated can be one of the biggest stresses your child faces when it comes to going back to school. Joining us now is Psychotherapist Arden Greenspan-Goldberg to tell us how to help our kids make a smooth transition. Hi, Arden. -Hi, good morning Rene. How are you? -I think this is one of the things that parents really do stress out about a bit. -Yes, they do. -Yeah, because what is it exactly that makes transitioning to a new school so difficult for kids? -I think, any kind of change something familiar is-- can be potentially frightening for the child or for the parent and it's a precursor of a growth to anxiety. It's normal but as I said to you moments ago, the parents sets the stage for the child by volunteering. I think, PTA, class mother going on class trips. So, they set the precedent to show the child that volunteering is a good thing. So, being the class monitor, erasing the blackboards is a good thing. Taking the chairs off the table in elementary school, helping the teacher is a good thing, being a Daisy or a Cub Scout is a good thing. -Is-- when should we worry if that the transition isn't going well? What-- there be some signs that we shall be looking forward? -Yes, some red flags? Yes, if your child is going to say to you; I don't want to go to school, I have a headache, I have a bellyache. If they seem kind of moody and if they're a little older there's like a sudden drop in grades --absolutely, there is need for intervention. You have to-- as a caring compassionate use of friendly parent, I think you need to ask your child every day, 'how was school today, honey?' -I'm afraid of that-- asking that question because you know what the answer you typically get is-- -A what? --'fine, it was fine.' -Yeah, that's typical. -Yeah. And there is a difference, is there not? When a child is moving from one grade to another then if you're moving to, say a different neighborhood. -Absolutely. The new kid coming from some other space and place to a brand new school is a major transition for them but I think it behooves the parents again to help the child maintain connections from the old neighborhood, the old kids, via IMing or AOL or texting, whatever. -And they email all the time. --and then-- they are in that as well. So, that they become, you know, bring the old into the new to some degree. -Yeah. I think also-- is it not important for the parents to not, sort of, poo-poo something if your child says to you, 'I'm nervous about going to school.' That you really have to take that seriously. -Oh, absolutely. Yes, you have to make sure that you have-- as a parent you have to have the fingers on the pulse of your child, I think on a daily basis. That makes your effectual confident parenting and you let your child know on a daily basis, Rene, how much you love them, how much you appreciate them and you want to provide opportunities for them in school to help them shine. Okay, to be the best that they could possibly be and I think when kids get involve, let's say in student's council at school, they have opportunities to meet and greet a whole new bunch of people or activities like sports activities, junior varsity to varsity. -Right. -They have opportunities to kind of allay some of those anxieties. Also, volunteering will also definitely help that. It's a purpose. -As a parent-- yeah. You can set the tone and you can also let them know that you're there for them. Arden, thank you so much. -Absolutely. -Great advice. Thanks a lot. If you want more advice from Arden, you can sign up her newsletter at askarden.com.