This makes it easier for your child to change school

Ten questions for the school psychiatrist
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Changing schools – this is how you make it easier for your child

After the summer holidays, many children have to move from elementary school to high school. Expectation and curiosity are often mixed with fear and uncertainty. How can parents make it easier for their children?

Many children look forward to high school. They are finally becoming adults and learning new topics and getting to know fellow students and teachers. A fresh start is associated with hopes but also with fears. Christian Ismer, a psychologist at the Center for School Psychology in Düsseldorf, explains why this is normal and how to make it easier for children.


    Christian Emmer is a qualified psychologist at the Center for School Psychology in Düsseldorf.

Christian Emmer is a qualified psychologist at the Center for School Psychology in Düsseldorf.
Photo: the city of Dusseldorf

What do children often worry about when changing school?

Ismar Children leave the protected and limited primary school. The road to school is often longer now and everything is new and strange at first. High schools are often very large systems in huge school complexes. In addition: other children as well as many teachers and professionals are strangers at first. The age difference between new 5th graders and seniors is much larger than it was in elementary school. And the role changes accordingly: she’s no longer “the tallest” but suddenly “the youngest” in school.

How can I make it easier for my child?

Ismar Use opportunities to familiarize your child with the new situation, for example by practicing the new way to school, looking at the new building from the outside, and looking up pictures of rooms and teachers on the Internet. The first days in the new school should be well planned. Discuss the morning routine with your child beforehand and make sure you have enough time and peace to accompany your child well. If elementary school friends or neighbors’ kids go to the same school, they can walk to school together in the morning. This gives security. Your child needs you as a confidant and friend for safety. In situations that contain a lot of new and strange things, children are helped by affection, transparency and reliability.

How long does it take for children to settle into the new school?

Ismar Children deal with new situations completely differently. Most babies will definitely need a few weeks or even months. There will definitely be some ups and downs at this point. Parents should not be surprised if a child walks out of school one day cheerful and seems unsure about other children, teachers, or new subjects the next.

In high school – and especially in grammar schools – the pace of learning and the pressure on the classroom increases. How do I hold my baby?

Ismar Higher demands can have a stimulating and performance-enhancing effect. It is important that children are well supported and that goals are set in such a way that they are transparent and achievable for the individual child. Parents should not put too much pressure on performance, especially when it comes to grades. From a psychological point of view, it makes sense not to focus so much on performance, but instead to assess the child’s effort.

With the beginning of the fifth grade, more self-organization becomes necessary: ​​check in the morning which lessons have been canceled, keep track of when lessons are in which rooms and decide which AG you would like to attend. What should I do if my child feels overwhelmed by it?

Ismar For many children, this will initially be quite a challenge. Here, too, it takes time to absorb the processes. Ask your child what can help him when he is feeling overwhelmed. Together, think about how the child can organize himself well, for example making a schedule or a checklist. Support your child in making difficult decisions, for example by weighing the pros and cons of different alternatives together.

What can I do if I feel my child is having trouble getting started in a class community?

Ismar Connect with the class teacher. This is the best way to support your child in school. School social workers and school psychologists are also available if you have any questions or concerns.

How do you help silent children make new connections?

Ismar Discuss with your child what can help him. It can be helpful to gather potential topics to start a conversation with the other children. Or think about the toys that the child especially likes and how other children might be attracted to these toys. At the same time, parents should not generate any pressure from expectation: no child should be the friend of the whole class. Often only one or two contacts start a new semester. If there is contact between parents in the class, there is nothing wrong with meeting the children outside the school. However, this should be discussed with the child so that he does not feel neglected. Sometimes there is a pause in developing and maintaining old friendships from elementary school or out of school.

What are the warning signs that my child has difficulty transitioning?

Ismar Particular attention is required, for example, if a child appears to be very anxious or depressed, has trouble sleeping, makes negative comments about school, does not want to go to school in the morning, or complains of physical problems. Additional support may be needed, especially when there is a significant change in mood, behavior, and symptoms compared to what they were in elementary school.

Ismar First of all, parents should calmly approach the child and not be intimidated. Try to find out what is bothering your child and if you can help him. Find a connection with the class teacher, who sees your child in class every day and can support him in everyday school life. Every high school also has counseling teachers and school social workers who can be consulted. The School Psychology Center also supports families who have questions about their children’s well-being at school.

The child goes to school – not the parents. What role does my going to parent’s evenings and class meetings play?

Ismar Parents are important partners of the school when it comes to matters of school and social and emotional development. They both have the same goal, which is to support the child in the best possible way according to his needs, interests and abilities. Therefore, regular exchange with teachers is recommended, especially at the beginning of high school. Once the connection is established, it is easier to work together later to raise questions and concerns. It can feel good for kids if parents know the people who participate in every school day at school.

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