The NSW Department of Education suggests putting together a ‘student portfolio’ for teachers at the new school.
This may include recent reports, recent transcripts (such as the most recent NAPLAN data), samples of their work and other relevant information and other relevant information.
Having this all put together allows the new teacher(s) to gauge your child’s abilities and understand the work they have been doing to ensure a smooth transition.
A great way to understand the culture at your child’s new school is to take a tour or have a trial day before your child officially begins.
Visiting the school beforehand allows families to get a feel for the students, teachers and campus.
Your child will also have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the new campus.
If you are unable to take a tour of the school beforehand, ask the school for a map.
Depending on your child, you may ask if there is any way for your child to meet some classmates before the school. Alternatively, you may ask to arrange a ‘buddy’ on the first day of school.
Ask if there are any online parent platforms or in-person groups you can join.
Ask if the school offers any extracurricular activities for before and after school.
Ask for a school calendar with a list of the events.
Ask the school if your child will be receiving their timetable before or on their first day.
Ask about homework expectations and homework clubs or study sessions the school provides if your child needs help.
If you are working during the weekday, do some research about after school facilities near the school or after-school programs or extracurriculars the school may offer.
Speak to your child about whether any of these interests them and what the new routine might look like.
Alternatively, you may seek transport arrangements for your child.
Build a new routine together by looking at buses, trains, potential drop-off points or the school’s private transport service.
Make sure you ask the school about any specific support your child requires so they can make appropriate arrangements.
It is a good idea to let the school know if your child:
Ask the new school about textbooks or workbooks your child may need for class(es) and make sure you have them ready by the first day.
Remember to order the new school uniform in advance.
Discuss the move as early as possible
It is important to begin discussing moving schools as soon as you can. This allows your child to have more opportunity to process the event.
This is particularly important as many children are reluctant to change.
Understand their concerns
Since children spend the majority of their week at school, moving schools can change their whole life.
It is normal for your child to have concerns. They may be worried about making new friends, leaving teachers they like, or navigating the campus.
Take some time to hear and acknowledge their worries and concerns.
Get the family excited about moving schools
Get excited and enthusiastic for moving schools and try to avoid dwelling on your concerns.
Discuss with your child what they can look forward to at their new school.
Ask them to consider what they are excited about. They may be excited about having a fresh start, having a different school uniform or new extracurricular opportunities.
Get them involved
If you are still in the process of choosing a school, let them join in!
You may wish to compare different schools and see which one best suits your child and the family.
Don’t isolate them with the community they’ve created
Make a list of your child’s school friends and their contact details. Try to make an effort to arrange visits with their old friends after they move schools.
Ensuring they will have the opportunity to see or contact their friends will make it easier to move schools.
Get in touch with the school
Contact your child’s teacher or year coordinator a few weeks after to see how they are fitting in.
If they are not adjusting to the change as expected, ask the school to provide tips to help.
Have another discussion with your child
Have another discussion with your child and see how they are going after the move.
Take time to acknowledge worries and concerns they may still have.
Parents may be concerned if their child may be severely upset about moving schools.
“I certainly think it’s important to get their input, not necessarily have the burden of the decision put on them.”
Dr Andrew Greenfield, Child and Educational Psychologist, believes some younger children may not be able to come up with any real advantage to moving schools.
“From year 3 onward I think it’s important to have their input because they’re the ones who have to live in that environment. The problem is they don’t know what it really is gonna be like a lot of the time in a new school and environment.”
Families often have a major need or good reasons for moving schools. However, if you do have the luxury of deciding when your child should move schools, Dr Greenfield suggests the middle years when other kids are moving schools.
“More often than not it’s done in year 5 or year 7 because there are kids moving schools around that time. Obviously year 7 because lots of kids change schools then anyway, so it’s a new experience.”