Going back to school can be a big transition, but it's extra tough when your kids are making the move to a new school.
Whether your child is in a new school because of redistricting, a summer move or a switch from public to private -- or vice versa -- it's important to stay on top of changes so that the adjustment process is an easy one.
With the help of experts we've put together a six-step guide to making sure your child adjusts to his new school with ease.
1. Validate children's anxieties
If you children are feeling anxious or nervous, let them know these feelings are normal. Shannon Jenkins, lead elementary counselor for the Keller school district, says it is important to validate what your children are feeling.
"Talk with them about what the first day will look like, and remind them that it's everyone's first day," she says.
Encourage them to talk about what they are feeling, and try to draw comparisons to other times when they have been nervous about trying new things.
Jennifer Powers, associate principal at the new Mansfield Lake Ridge High School, says it is important to prepare your children for what they will face on the first day.
"Maybe they won't know anyone when they walk into the cafeteria on the first day, but remind them that they will make friends and that they won't be the new kid forever," she says.
2. Familiarize children with their new school
Take advantage of any and all new student orientations, meet-the-teacher nights or school tours. Jenkins says it is very important for kids of all ages to have an idea of where they will be going and what their classroom will look like.
If your children are feeling extra anxious, talk to the school about scheduling a tour with a current student to point out the cafeteria, gymnasium and other important locations. Powers added that registration nights or open houses can be a great way to meet friends, as well as teachers, counselors and principals.
"The best thing that kids can do is get on the website for the new school and see what all is there," she says. "A lot of schools have some kind of beginning of the year social event. Go to it."
3. Find out school hours and adjust wakeup and bed times
It's important to get your children on their new schedule, especially if it's different from the one they are used to keeping. If they are starting a new grade, it's likely that their start time will change.
Powers says incorporating new wakeup and meal times early will not only ensure that your children are awake on the first day of school, but also that they are functioning and alert.
Be sure to check with your students' schools to find out if extracurricular activities are before or after school -- if you have athletes, they may have to be at school one to two hours early for practice.
4. Have children help pick out school supplies and clothes
Although it can be tempting to grab notebooks and pencils on your weekly trip to Target, Melanie Epp, a counselor in Southlake and Denton, says it is important to make your children a part of the process.
Picking out supplies and first day clothes can often be the most exciting part of starting a new school year, so it's good to let the kids be a part of the hype, she says.
Be sure to contact the new school or go online to find out about uniforms and dress code to be sure your child will be dressed appropriately on the first day.
5. Engender excitement and curiosity
Rather than allow your children to slowly build up dread for the first day, make the conversation a positive one.
Epp suggests wondering aloud what their teachers will say and do, what riding the bus will be like, or musing about how neat it will be to have a locker for the first time.
"Talk about changes in a casual manner with a positive attitude," she says.
6. Start talking about extracurricular activities
Outside of class, there are tons of school-related activities that will help your children meet new friends and stay involved. Ask your children if they are interested in student council, athletics, yearbook, newspaper or band, and encourage them to try at least one student organization.
"I definitely think getting involved in activities is a great thing, whether you're a new student or if you've been going to that school forever," Powers says. "That's how you make your school feel like a place where you belong instead of a place where you have to come," she says.
Contact the school to be sure you're aware of early tryouts, practices or meetings to make sure your children don't miss anything important.