Supporting your child’s transition to a new school year

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Child Behaviour / Parenting

Supporting your child’s transition to a new school year

The start of a new school year can be a time filled with excitement, but it can also bring about feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, both for children and their parents.

To address some of the most common concerns and challenges that parents face in supporting their child returning to school, or moving to a new school, we hosted a podcast for our users, featuring our Child Behaviour Specialist, Michelle Cooke.

In this blog, we’ll summarise Michelle’s key points from the podcast, giving you valuable tips to help your child start the new school year with confidence.

Acknowledge and communicate

One of the primary concerns parents have is how their child will adapt to changes, particularly if they’re moving to a new school or transitioning between year groups. Michelle emphasises the importance of open communication in these situations. Children may not immediately embrace changes, and it’s vital for parents to acknowledge their feelings, listen to their concerns, and provide them with a platform to express their emotions. Avoid becoming defensive and try to understand their perspective, even if it’s challenging.

Timing varies for each child

When it comes to transitioning between school stages, like moving from nursery to reception or primary to secondary, it’s crucial to remember that there’s no fixed timeline for settling in. Each child is unique, and their adjustment period may differ significantly.

Michelle encourages parents not to rush this process and to give their children the time they need to adapt to the new environment. Some children may seamlessly integrate, while others might take weeks or even months to fully settle in.

Addressing fears

For parents who’ve had to make significant changes, like changing schools due to relocation, addressing potential resentment from their children can be challenging. Michelle advises parents to maintain open lines of communication, acknowledge their child’s feelings without defensiveness, and offer reassurance. Change can be daunting, but with time and patience, children can adjust and thrive in their new surroundings.

Helping shy children build friendships

Parents often worry about how shy children will make friends in a new school setting. Michelle recommends taking proactive steps, like arranging playdates with classmates or engaging in school-related social activities. Encouraging children to express their interests and facilitating conversations about shared hobbies can also help them form connections. It’s essential to let children go at their own pace and not pressure them to be overly outgoing.

Children with additional needs

Transitions can be particularly challenging for children with additional needs. Michelle suggests parents maintain consistent routines at home to provide a sense of stability. Planning ahead for school routines and discussing potential challenges with teachers can be immensely helpful. Additionally, exploring local resources, such as Council for Disabled Children, Special Needs Jungle, and BBC Bitesize, can provide valuable information and support during this process.

Helping twins adjust to separate classes

When twins attend the same school, but are placed in different classes, parents may worry about potential separation anxiety. Michelle suggests speaking with the children about their worries, building individual friendships, and celebrating their reunions after school. It’s essential to be led by the children’s concerns and maintain open conversations to ease their transition.

Closing thoughts

The transition to a new school year can be a time of mixed emotions for both parents and children. However, with patience, open communication, and proactive steps, parents can help their children navigate these changes successfully. Remember that every child is unique, and the adjustment period varies, so try providing support and understanding in tune with them. By following these expert tips and being attuned to your child’s needs, you can ensure a smoother transition to the new school year.

Additional resources

BBC Bitesize

Council for Disabled Children

Special Needs Jungle


Parent Cloud can support you with child behaviour, as well as other parenting issues. To book a session with one of our specialists, visit our bookings page.