Preparing your child for a new school

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Starting school can be a stressful event in a child’s life. More so for one who is going to a new school, in a new country.  Not only will the child be dealing with a new environment but with a new language, way of instruction and a new culture altogether. Moreover, Separation anxiety, especially for those starting pre-school or kindergarten, could also be a problem. To help ease the situation for you and your kids, here are a few suggestions:

Do some research

Before the school year starts, give yourself enough time to learn all you can about the school. Don’t be afraid to visit and talk to administrators, guidance counselors and teachers (Note: Call first before visiting the school. In-person visits could be prohibited or limited at this time due to the pandemic). They will understand your situation and appreciate your involvement in your child’s welfare. Ask about programs for newcomers such as tours, orientations or even assigning a “buddy” to new students. A school tour will especially be helpful in making them feel more comfortable with the new environment. Go with your child on the tour and point out the classrooms, playground, bathrooms, the cafeteria, etc., so that they won’t feel lost on their first day. Learn about special programs they have related to sports or the arts that your child could be interested in.  This will help your child look forward to going to school instead of being anxious.

Watch this video from Parents Magazine for tips in helping your child face their first day of school fears:

Older children such as your teenager, may have different concerns.  They could be anxious about speaking in English, fitting in or coping with school work. The following video entitled “New Moves: An Orientation Video for Newcomer Students” may be helpful for them. Seeing newcomer youth just like themselves talk about their experiences adjusting to their new school and the things that helped them succeed later on can help ease their worries:

This video is also available in various languages at the Settlement.Org site.  It was produced by Frameline Productions for the Settlement Workers in School Program (SWIS) in Ontario.


You are also going through the same adjustment as your kids. Sharing how you feel and what you do to cope will help them feel that they are not alone. It may also help them realize that there are solutions to difficult situations. Always check up on them, especially when they are withdrawn or sensitive. They should know that you are open to talk whenever they feel like it. Be a good example and always communicate positivity. Tell them that adjusting is always a part of new adventures.  They will soon be involved in exciting activities, have new friends, learn new things and will soon forget their fears and anxieties.

Get involved

Volunteering at your child’s school will give you an opportunity to meet their teachers, classmates and other parents. This will also help improve your communication skills. Networking with other parents is a great way to get tips on dealing with common problems and meeting other kids your child can socialize with.  More importantly, this will show your kids that getting involved is a good thing. It can encourage them to try being more outgoing through your example.

Always show your support. Don’t scold them for complaining, or worse, ignore them. Be patient and know that this phase is temporary. Soon, you will hear those complaints change into excited chatter as your children become more adjusted to their school life.

Article updated September 14, 2021.

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Community Resources

Read the Province of Manitoba’s Restoring Safe Schools – Planning Guide for 2021/2022 School year and Restoring Safe Schools – Planning Guide for 2021/2022 School year to know the latest health and safety protocols.

Mosaic Newcomer Family Resource Network has many parenting and family programs, as well as English classes, with quality child care for newcomer parents.

Nobody’s Perfect Manitoba is a parenting program for newcomer parents with children aged 0-5 years. Here you will learn about child development, safety, health, and behavior from a trained facilitator.

My Child in the Middle Years is a great website for parents of 10-14 year old children. Here, you will find useful information on the changes that your child is going through at this age, as well as suggestions and resources on how to help your child succeed.

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