Being the new kid in school is a phenomenon many kids will experience in their lives. School districts and government agencies officially refer to it as “student mobility,” defined as any time a student changes school for reasons other than grade promotion. Student mobility can be voluntary, especially with today’s environment and its many educational options, or involuntary, such as a change in a parent’s job or a move.
I was the new kid several times growing up. I can tell you I was not thinking about what kind of statistic I was when I was the new kid. All I knew was that I was alone, nervous, and scared.
The experience of being the new kid has encouraged me to teach my children to look for the new kids and reach out to them. Here are 10 tips to share with your kids before school begins.
1. Recognize that there will be new kids at school, kids who do not know anyone. Look for them, don’t look past them.
2. Say “Hi.” Ask where the new student is from. Do they have any pets or siblings?
3. If possible, invite the new kid to your table at lunch.
4. Invite the new student to hang out after school.
5. Did I mention just talk to the new kid? It’s okay if you’re not best friends. Maybe you won’t have anything in common. But if you never even talk to the new kid, then you won’t find out if you have anything in common.
6. Compliment the new student. Maybe they have a cool backpack, shoes or phone case. Maybe they are wearing a shirt with a sports team that is also your favorite. Once, when I was the new kid, a girl told me she liked my watch band. It was a small comment, but it meant so much to me.
7. Tell the new kid about clubs, sports, or other activities at school.
8. Sit with them on the bus or stand next to them at the pick-up loop. Even if it’s just for a day or two.
9. Help the new student find things like the gym and the cafeteria.
10. Be welcoming and inclusive in group work during class. Remember, the new kid knows no one, and things may have run differently at his or her old school.
Parents, teach your kids to look for the new students and take any of these steps to be kind and helpful. If they do, the new kid won’t feel so alone and will be one step closer to finding their way in a new school.
And if you see any new moms or dads standing alone at the pick-up loop after school or wandering the halls looking lost? Then it’s your turn to say “Hello.” Ask where they are from. If you never even talk to the new parents, then you won’t find out if you have anything in common.
Katy M. Clark is a writer who embraces her imperfections as a mom on her blog, ExperiencedBadMom.com.