Moving to a new country or city can be pretty exciting for adults. This is because relocating usually means starting a new job, living in a new home and meeting new people. Unfortunately, most adolescents who have to move do not share the same view. For teenagers, relocating entails leaving behind their friends and the school they have grown to love. Because of this, a move can be more stressful and tougher on them.
During this time, it is important that you show your support and love to your teenage child before and during his or her start in a new school. Aside from helping your teenager go through the school admissions procedure, below are additional ways you can support him or her as he or she makes the transition.
Once you and your teenager have already chosen a new school, ask the registrar if you and your child can visit the school together before enrolling him or her. Together with your child, explore the buildings, classrooms and other areas including the library, gym, science lab, football field, etc… This will help your teenager get to know where he or she will be studying, and where the important school sections like the library, study hall, gym and cafeteria are located. Introduce your child to the principal, teachers and any other staff that are at the school during the tour. By doing so, you ensure your teenager will see a few familiar faces that he or she can approach and talk to during his or her first days at school.
Giving your teen as much decision-making power as possible will allow him or her to feel that he or she still has some control – something that your child may feel he or she doesn’t have during the move. This means allowing your child to choose which classes to take. Encourage him or her to select which extracurricular activities and sports to try and school clubs to join as well. Don’t forget to remind your teen that whatever sport or activity he or she wants to go for in school or even in the community, he or she will meet another person that shares his or her interest who can be a potential friend.
You can ensure your teenager feels less anxious and even a bit excited about the first day of school if he or she already knows someone who will be going to the same school. Throwing a housewarming or “new in town” party is a great excuse to have your neighbours and new co-workers come to your house. Encourage your guests to bring their kids so that your teen can meet other kids his or her age. Hopefully, one or more of the younger guests go to your child’s school. You can also encourage your child to join a summer camp or sign up for karate classes for example. By doing so, you boost the chances of your teen meeting new friends who may even be his or her future classmates.
Although your child may be miles away from his or her old friends, it doesn’t mean that he or she should forget about them. Your teen will get the additional support and comfort he or she needs from his or her old friends. Encourage your child to maintain his or her friendships from the old neighbourhood and school. Allow him or her to talk to his or her old friends frequently through SMS, online calls or messages, or even via posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites.
No matter how busy you are with your new life, always talk to your child. Listen to your child without judgment and acknowledge his or her concerns and feelings of anxiety or sadness. Do not dismiss your teenager’s worries as unrealistic because you are not feeling the same way. While speaking with your teen, always point out his or her strengths. Remind your child that all these will help him or her adjust to the new school and make new friends easily. Your love and support will go a long way in ensuring your teen adjusts to a new school and a new life.
As such, be generous with these, especially during the first few months after your big move. In time, your teen will understand your decision and learn to love his or her new school, friends and life.