Changing a child’s school is a tough decision for parents, but children might be the ones who feel more challenged, as they have to change their familiar, intimate environment and relationships to start anew.
Although the psychological effects of moving schools can’t be avoided, they can be mitigated and prepared for in advance. Read on to see how you can help your child move schools.
Understanding The Psychological Effects of Moving Schools
Relocation is a daunting experience for adults and children. For a student, it can often be a wrenching social and emotional experience having to change schools. Leaving their social circles, relationships, and lifestyle can negatively impact their mental health. Moving schools can be challenging for early to middle years students as they go through the most important physical and emotional development phases.
Let’s discuss the most common psychological effects of transitioning schools on a child.
Stress and Anxiety
The transition to a new school can be overwhelming for children as they have to leave behind an environment they are familiar with and people they care about in order to adjust to an unknown setting, which can cause feelings of uncertainty and worry, leading to anxiety and stress.
Children express these psychological symptoms in many different ways. Some may become more withdrawn or irritable, whilst others may have trouble sleeping or experience physical symptoms such as stomachaches or headaches.
It is common for children to express worries and anxiety through drawings or writing.
Loneliness and Homesickness
Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or isolation that arises when a child feels disconnected from their surroundings. A young child's struggle to adjust to a new environment may be due to a lack of social interaction or self-isolation. It can also decrease self-esteem and damage their efforts to adapt to their new school and make new friends.
Homesickness, on the other hand, is the feeling of longing or nostalgia for one's home or family. Children who move to a new school may experience this as they miss their old friends, teachers, and routines, which can cause sadness and confusion.
Loss and Grief
Loss is a feeling of sadness or grief that arises when a child loses something meaningful to them. In this case, it’s the loss of friends, familiar surroundings, or a sense of belonging.
The latter of this pair is grief, a natural response to loss. It is the process of mourning and coming to terms with a loss that could take children through a range of emotions such as denial, anger, depression, and acceptance.
This pair of effects may make a young child think that they have lost a part of their identity and struggle to acknowledge the change.
Helping Your Child Have A Smooth Transition
The psychological effects of moving schools can affect a child educationally as well as emotionally. Therefore, parents must know ways to help their children get through this challenging time.
Here are four tips for helping a child cope with moving schools that we recommend parents learn when their child is struggling with moving schools.
1. Communicate with Your Child
Open and honest communication is one of the most important ways of helping your child feel supported and understood during this challenging time, reducing their uncertainty and anxiety, and providing them with the support and guidance they need to adjust to their new school.
To do so effectively, set aside dedicated time to talk to the child about validating and expressing their feelings and concerns, pay active attention to what they say, and provide your child with information about their new school and community.
2. Build Resilience and Self-esteem
Building resilience and self-esteem is another influential way to help your child cope with moving schools. Resilience refers to the ability to bounce back from challenges and adversity, while self-esteem refers to a person's sense of self-worth and confidence.
Some ways to help build a child's resilience and self-esteem are:
- Inspire problem-solving regarding challenges they may face with relocating;
- Praise your child for their effort and hard work rather than just their achievements;
- Provide your child with opportunities to succeed and feel good about themselves;
- Model them with resilience in your behaviour;
- Motivate your child to practise self-care with actions like eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in physical activity.
3. Maintain Connections with Old Friends
It is also necessary to help your child maintain connections with their old friends to avoid making them feel lonely and homesick. Allow and provide methods so they can communicate with their friends, like via phone calls, video chats, or social media.
4. Make New Friends
Finally, helping your child make new friends at their new school is a great tool to help them get familiar with the new school environment quicker.
Making new friends is how a child can feel more comfortable at a new school.
You can encourage them to join clubs or teams that interest them or introduce them to other children in the community. These actions will help them feel more connected to their new school and surroundings.
Moving schools will no doubt be a challenging experience for children. But, by understanding the psychological effects of moving schools and providing support and guidance by using the tips mentioned, parents can help their child cope with the transition, adjust to their new school, and thrive on more positive emotions.
Furthermore, a new school environment with friendly students and inspiring teachers, are also key factors in welcoming a child to a new living situation. If you have plans to move your child to a new school, then UNIS Hanoi is a strong contender for certain.
One of UNIS Hanoi’s main criteria is helping students in many ways, including assessing their emotions.
UNIS Hanoi is where your child's "unique" needs will be assessed carefully, both education- and emotion-wise, with well-assigned teams that care for our school's counselling and support issues. Our adapted learning programmes and provided services ensure that children can spread their wings and evolve into brighter, better, and happier individuals.
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