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Q: We are relocating to Georgia this summer and my 11-year-old will be going into the sixth grade. He is scared and continues to remind me of it. He doesn't deal with change very easily. I am trying to make him understand, but I don't know if I'm making it more difficult for him to accept my suggestions. We will be visiting the town in which my husband and I are going to buy a house. We are hoping to get to see the school he will be attending, so that he can feel more at ease. But, so far, none of the encouragement seems to be working. All my family and friends say that he will adapt better than we expect him to, but we know our son best. Can you give me some suggestions to make this transition easier for him and me? This is all new to me , but I guess I can cope with change a little better than he.
A: It's perfectly normal for both you and your son to feel anxious about the move to the new community. There is always some anxiety whenever there is change. The greatest gift that you can give your child at this stressful time is your understanding and loving support.
When children enter a new school, the more they know about what to expect, the more comfortable their first days will be. You also will feel less anxious once you become acquainted with the school. As soon as you know where your son will be attending school, you will need to do the following things:
- Call the new school to find out when you can register your child and what you need to bring. Most schools require records from the previous school, immunization records, and a birth certificate. Your child's first day will be much easier if all the paperwork is done.
- Visit the school before the first day with your son. If you make an appointment, you should have the opportunity to speak with the principal or a counselor who can tell you more about the school. Make a list with your son of the questions you wish to ask.
- Ask for a tour of the school or permission to wander around so your son will feel more at home on the first day. Try to find out where his classroom will be, and make sure you visit the lunchroom, library, and gym.
- If your child will ride the bus, find out about times and pick-up points. If he will be walking or riding his bike to school, select the safest route from home to school.
- Most importantly, try to find neighbors who have children your son's age who will be attending his new school. Introduce yourself and your son to these families so he will see some familiar faces at his new school.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.