Tips for successful transition to 4th grade in a new school

By: Oran G. Gan, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
School Mental Health Program
DC Department of Behavioral Health

Get familiar with the new place

Thake your child for a visit at the new school and do it while he is still in his old school. Walk around get familiar with the building. You could observe together the things that your child is excited about, and the things that would take adjustment and getting used to.

Help your child to say goodbye to Eagle

Some children spent year or two in Eagle, for many others, Eagle is the only school they ever had. In the last week of the school year, take the time to help your child to say proper goodbye. Take pictures of your child in his favorite places in the school and/or with the staff and teachers he will miss next year. Talk with your child about all the things he might miss in Eagle. Processing these thoughts together could help with ‘moving on’.

Get to know the school’s strengths

If your child has a specific need of any kind, don’t hesitate to connect with teachers or specialists that you think will benefit from learning a bit more about your child before school starts. 

Separate your feelings from your child’s feelings

As parents we have our own childhood memories-both good and bad. Try to separate your own fears or concerns from your child’s so that you don’t add fuel to the fire.

Keep a positive focus

As the first day draws near, begin talking to your child about her/his expectations, hopes, and fears for the upcoming school year. Reassure her/him that other children are having the same feelings and that she/he will have a great year.

Prepare the night before

To avoid the morning rush, organize what you can the night before. Prepare clothes and assemble any supplies your child may need. Be sure to get everyone up extra early so you’ll have plenty of time to calmly get ready and get out the door on time.

Listen

At the end of the first school days, listen to your child. But don’t ask too many questions. Many teachers are okay with a quick email at the end of the day or week if your child isn’t telling you much about their day. If your child does raise some concerns, ask first if they want you to follow-up with their teacher, attempt to problem solve it together or leave it be.

Arrange visits in Eagle after your child started his new school

Many children will feel supported and empowered in their new school, when they visit their old school where the teachers and staff remember them and be happy to see them again. 

John Campbell