by Michele Byrne

Settling in to a new school

There’s nothing more exciting (or daunting) than starting at a new school. I remember my son’s first day at his new primary school – the uniform neatly laid out for the morning, his favourite lunchbox items carefully packed, the squeak of the new school shoes that silently screamed ‘new boy’.

We had just arrived from interstate and knew no one. As I stood grasping my son’s hand tightly, I am not sure who was more frightened of entering the school gates, him or me.

Unfamiliar faces and corridors, the bustling of activity where everyone else looked like they knew where to go, and the two of us stood frozen in the centre of it all. For some families, transition into a new school is easy, but for others it can be an incredibly stressful time.

Here are a few tips that may help in his transition:

Daily Routine
Boys thrive on routine, they need it and so do we. There are times for spontaneity, but it’s not recommended at the start of the school year.

Make (and stick) to your routine. If your son wakes each day knowing his morning routine, he is more likely to remain calm and relaxed.  Create opportunities for him to unwind and process his day in the evenings too.

Acknowledge anxiety
Recognise and expect your son to feel anxious about starting school. Find a time to talk about his concerns when he is relaxed and you are fully available.

Reassure him that these feelings are normal. Simple breathing techniques, speaking with his teacher, and buddying up with a friend can help, as can understanding and empathy.

Short and sweet farewells
For younger boys, it is important to develop structure around drop-off and pick-up. Try your best to keep your mornings calm.  

If you take your son into the classroom, create a routine that is consistent and so he knows when it’s time to say goodbye. Do not prolong your farewell as this only makes it harder for you and him. If your son struggles at drop-off, ask his teacher for assistance.

Make friends

Friends are important not just for your son, but also for you. Meeting other parents, building a community of mums and dads to talk shop, also helps. You can help your son make and maintain good friendships, read more

If your son instigates a playdate, try to honour it. Similarly, don’t be shy to approach parents and suggest catching up for a coffee with your children. Schools often have social functions throughout the year – try and be there where you can and find a few new friendly faces.

Build connections

Assist in your son’s classroom or as a volunteer for the parent group. This can help you to form a closer connection with other parents and the school.

The keeper of all information and goings-on of the school generally resides at Reception. From my experience, they are in their role because they love the school and they genuinely want to help. They also are likely to be able to connect you with some like-minded parents so utilise this resource if available to you (and remember them at Christmas time).

Be positive
If you are positive about school, your son will intuitively feel more comfortable about his new surroundings. On the way to school, talk about his day and build excitement around the activities taking place.

Enlist others
If your son continues to struggle after a few weeks of starting school, enlist the support of his teacher and possibly a School counsellor. His happiness is paramount in the success of his learning.


Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School

Michele Byrne is a Melbourne-based writer, with a particular interest in boys’ education, and is a mother of four children - two sons and two daughters. This article is about