New School Transitions for Learning Diverse Students

For some, the end of another school year and especially a graduation brings not just excitement for what’s to come but also fear of what’s to come. Whether it’s a graduation from elementary, middle, or high school, there are many ways that you can help prepare your adolescents and young adults for what’s to come. Help your kids (and yourself) by prepping effectively and preemptively before starting at a new school to mitigate some of the uncertainties and newness to come.

Elementary to middle school- Before starting middle school download a map of your child’s new school and identify where their classes are with them! Find bathrooms, the Nurse’s office, and any other rooms that might play a part in their time there. Taking a tour of the school before that First Day so they can find their preferred lunch table, talk to some admins, and start walking in their new steps will make a HUGE difference.

Additionally, their teachers should know their name before they arrive at class! Connect with teachers to discuss a plan for their academics as this will be instrumental in helping make this transition as smooth as possible.

High school to college- For new high school and college students, just as with the younger kids, their teachers and professors need to know their name before arriving at class. In college, they might not know their professors too before classes start but they can still get in touch with the Accommodations Office and their advisor. This way they can get access to the syllabi ASAP to be able to prep. Once they have their professors they should set up a meeting to establish a plan for the semester. Same thing for high school students! Setting up a meeting before classes start will establish their relationship and make them more than just a name in the class.

Newfound free periods during the day may pose as more of a hindrance than a benefit if not conducted appropriately. They will need to create structure from an initial lack of structure as this might be the first time in their lives that they have free time during the day. Time management and organization will need to become their new best friends. If they need some guidance and help at the start, support them in finding the right resources on campus where they can get this in person. This is also where their mentor can step in! Let them work through the kinks and newness together.

We want them to enjoy these new school settings and all the exciting changes that happen in the first few weeks of school, so getting them set before school to not be worried about everything will hopefully alleviate some of the discomfort.

For college students, there might be an additional factor to consider in terms of the number of courses or credits they will be taking. While the students are encouraged to take a certain number of courses each semester, we suggest looking at possibly taking fewer courses (enough to maintain a full-time student status) if you or they feel like it will help them better manage and stay on top of their work and obligations. Not everyone will need to do this but after getting their initial class schedule, have a real talk about how they’re feeling or establish a plan to check in after classes start. Once they have been set up at the Accommodations Office and their advisor is aware of their academic needs there will be multiple people in their corner with inside knowledge of the school itself, enabling them to make the best decisions for them. Even more, this will allow them to have a life outside of just academics! We can better encourage them to join a club or club sports team, explore their broader campus location, or spend time with new friends. Finding the balance isn’t always easy but that doesn’t mean we can’t put in the effort to make it happen.

Most importantly, utilize their mentor! With your input, they will be able to step in and support your efforts from the home front and be on the field playing with them, not just cheering them on from the sidelines.

The moral of the story is to be proactive as opposed to reactive before starting a new school year or at a new school/campus! Having all the tools and resources available to your child will alleviate potential stressors and allow them to enjoy their time, and friends, and maximize on new experiences!