As we move forward with plans for the Enfield Public Schools’ re-organization, we recognize that this can be an unsettling time for some of our children. The approach that parents and teachers take when discussing the upcoming changes to our schools can help children make a positive and successful transition. The following are some suggestions for ways to talk to children about the 2011-2012 school year.
- Be reassuring. Children will take their cues from the adults in their lives. Let them know that their teachers and families care about them and will help them to adjust to their new schools.
- Acknowledge and normalize their feelings. Let children know that it is natural to feel apprehensive. Share memories of times when you were worried about a new situation in school. Relate the good things that happened like how you met your best friend or that your new teacher became one of your favorites.
- Be optimistic. It is important for children to know that parents and teachers expect the transition to be ultimately successful. Let them know that adjustments may take time, but that you are confident in their ability to do well.
- Stick to the facts. Answer children’s questions factually and include a positive element to the answer. For example, let children know that they will be going to their new school with the same children that are in their neighborhoods. If you are unsure of how to answer a child’s question, call your building administrator to make sure that you are providing factual information.
- Be a good listener and observer. Let children guide you as to how concerned they are or how much information they need. If they are not anxious or focused on the school reorganization plan, don’t dwell on it. However, be available to answer their questions to the best of your ability using information that is developmentally appropriate to a child’s age and level of maturity. One way to help children express their concerns is to ask, “What have you been thinking about your new school?” Make a list of their thoughts and together try to find answers to their questions.
- Be careful about what children hear. It is important to be aware of what children hear when adults are talking to each other. They may become anxious if they hear adults discussing issues or expressing emotions that are beyond their understanding.
These suggestions have been adapted from information provided by the National Association of School Psychologists and by Leah Davies, M. Ed.
(revised on 12/7/10)