Moving a child from one institution to another may sometimes prove to be a challenging undertaking for both parents and children.
Children may experience anxiety and fear when they are removed from an environment of familiar faces, such as friends and teachers, and placed in a new situation to which they will have to adjust.
Social Psychologist, Leachim Semaj
Speaking with JIS News, Social Psychologist, Leachim Semaj, explains that parents need to prepare their children for change, in order to make this transition smoother.
“If you start selling it to them early.you sell them a positive side to it, what is likely to happen, what are the benefits of this school.these are the kinds of things that parents really need to do to help children see the positive things that the change will bring (to) see how experiences will be expanded. See how new horizons will appear so that children are better prepared for it,” he says.
He notes that even with this encouragement, children may still initially resist, but that this behaviour is all part of the process.
“It doesn’t mean that you abandon the programme…sometimes it will take a little longer, but some children will automatically respond,” he adds.
Getting your child to accept a transfer, however, goes beyond merely selling the idea, Dr. Semaj notes, adding that involving the youngster in all aspects of the change will help in coping with the change.
“If they’re going to go by bus, you take them by the bus so they can see the stops. If they’re going by car, drive the route, show them the place, get them excited in the planning, what are the books, a new uniform, involve them in the purchase,” he explains.
Dr. Semaj adds that although the child may be away from friends, with today’s technologies, that does not have to be a major concern.
“It’s not just losing old friends. it’s gaining new friends. In the long past, whenever we changed schools we lost friends. But now with Facebook and cell phones, all your friends are still your friends because you have their email addresses, you have their Facebook, you have their cell phone numbers,” he adds.
Guidance and Counselling Education Officer for Region Three, Allison Cooke-Hawthorne, agrees that anxiety is a natural part of the transition process.
She notes that parents can play an integral role in easing this anxiety by “finding the positive things about the school. If this school is involved in sports, get them excited about the school, so they can actually look forward to going there.”
Ms. Cooke-Hawthorne says that if on the first day of school the child still needs assistance in dealing with the change, someone will be there to guide them through this phase.
“All guidance counsellors usually know which students are coming for the first time, no matter what grade.might do brief sessions with them.(and) build relationships so they know that if any problems (arise) they can go and talk with them,” she notes, adding that in addition to guidance counsellors, some schools pair new students with mentors.
“Some schools might link them to a mentor, big sister or big brother, someone to take them around the school, introduce them to different clubs, and spots around the school and to get them comfortable,” she informs.
Dr. Semaj notes that even if the transfer starts off negatively, it is imperative that the parents promote and maintain a positive outlook about the new school, and provide encouragement about the new environment.
So as parents contemplate moving their child from one school to another, whether it’s in the middle of the child’s primary school life or from there to the high school level, they must accept that it might be stressful, but also know that there are ways for both them and their children to cope with the change.