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Top 10 Tips to Help Your Child Settle into a New School

Primary School Children

If you are thinking of moving your child to a new school, you are bound to be feeling anxious as to how they might settle in. However, schools are generally very good at making new starters feel welcome and children are very adaptable, so - with some advance preparation - being the ‘new boy’ or ‘new girl’ won’t last long! Here are our Top 10 Tips to help you smooth the transition for both you and your child.

Preparing for the school move

1. Try to involve your child as much as possible ahead of the move. Visit the school together to meet their teacher, and organise a private tour of the school with the Headteacher. Knowing where things are in advance should help to alleviate some of their fears. You could also go along to school events, like fun days, to meet other staff and pupils and help them get used to the new surroundings. For children joining our Reception Class, their first experience of Wandsworth Prep is a Forest School session in the Spring Term. The session allows children to become familiar with their environment and serves to build their  confidence, prior to walking through our gates. In June, all children joining the school meet their new teacher and peers when we host a ‘moving up morning’. The activities during the ‘moving up’ morning focus on children getting to know one another and, likewise, teachers getting to know the children. As we believe that children benefit from strong partnerships between home and school, we spend time with new parents to the school to offer advice as to how to support their child through the transition process.

2. Be positive about the move and talk to your child about all the great opportunities they will have at their new school. Look on the school’s website together and seek out extracurricular activities you know they’ll be excited about, such as the range of sports they can try or the opportunities to take part in concerts and performances.

3. Keep talking to your child and answer any questions they have about the new school. Younger children in particular may worry about the practical details like where they leave their bags, what happens if they need to go to the toilet and when break times are, so finding this information out in advance should help address their concerns.

4. Make sure your child has the right uniform or kit for their first day. The school should provide you with information about which days they will need special items for lessons such as PE, Swimming or Forest School, but if not, ask.

Saying ‘goodbye’ to the old school

5. Whatever the circumstance for moving schools, it is important for children to say ‘goodbye’ to their old school properly. You could take in cards for their teachers and friends and make plans to stay in touch, even if that is just electronically. 

Starting the new school

6. Many schools will give new starters a special friend or ‘buddy’, as well as encouraging their classmates to help look after them. The teachers, too, are often on lookout for new children at play time to help them join in with games. You shouldn’t worry too much though; new starters often have ‘celebrity status’, and children will be flocking to play with them at break times. All new children to Wandsworth Prep are assigned buddies in their year group and children joining our Reception Class are assigned buddies in Year 1, who they meet when they take part in an outdoor adventure session at our Forest School site on Wimbledon Common. Our buddy system is pivotal to successful transition and a happy start to life at the school.

7. The school will have undertaken a full assessment of your child’s academic needs before entry and will work closely with parents to help children feel like they are making progress. At Wandsworth Prep, we keep parents regularly informed of their child’s progress through written reports and parents’ evenings. We also operate an open door policy whereby parents may contact their child’s Class Teacher at any time to make an appointment to discuss progress or any concerns they might have.

8. Some children will make friends straight away, while others can take longer to come out of their shells. Encouraging your child to take part in activities and clubs can help them make friends more quickly and form an attachment to their new school. From sports clubs to book clubs, most schools will offer something that children can join to have a little extra fun. At Wandsworth Prep, we pride ourselves on our wide extra-curricular programme. Children throughout the school can partake in after school clubs from coding to sewing; there is something for every child.

9. Get involved with school life yourself. If you’re able to volunteer on the PTA, you’ll get to know other staff and parents. You could also ask your child if they want to invite a couple of children over for playdates to help them (and you) make friends.

10. Give it time. Even parents with the best of intentions may not be able to make their child’s transition to a new school totally seamless. If you are worried about how your child is settling into their new school, don’t hesitate to talk to your child’s teacher. If you are all on the same page about your child’s transition, you can work together to give your child whatever they need for the best integration possible. In late September, all parents of children new to Wandsworth Prep meet with their child’s Class Teacher to focus on how they have settled in to their new environment. Experience tells us that placing such emphasis on the happiness of each child and working in close partnership with parents contributes to children achieving their potential.

We hope you found these Top Tips useful. If you have any further queries or would like to book a visit, please call 0208 870 4133 or email maria.major@wandsworthprep.com

Bridget Saul – Headteacher at Wandsworth Prep School

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