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7 Ways to Create a Smooth Mid-Year School Transition

Sponsored by Compass International School Doha

Moving to a new school is a complex time for families, bringing a wide range of emotions from excitement to trepidation, and transferring mid-year can heighten parents’ concerns. Whether you’ve decided that your child’s current school isn’t the best fit for them, or are moving within Qatar or internationally, working with the new school to develop a holistic, personalised approach to in-year transitions will give your child the best possible start to their new school life.

As educators, we believe that a collaborative approach where students, parents and teachers work together is the best way to create a smooth transfer, limiting any interruptions to learning and helping students quickly feel at home—happy, confident and with a deep sense of belonging. Here are seven ways in which parents, teachers and students can work together.

1. Share to prepare

The unknown can be scary for children so we believe in sharing information in advance. Your child’s new school should be on hand to answer any questions or concerns you may have. They should have key resources, advice and guidance, including handbooks and curriculum guides, to build understanding and expectations without overwhelming you with information.

Parents should also be prepared to share information with the school. Reports and recommendations from previous schools, together with a mini-biography outlining your child’s personality, learning style, strengths and passions, enables the school to create a personalised transition which helps him or her settle quickly and accelerates their learning from day one.

2. Uninterrupted learning

A transformational education, which enables students to achieve their academic potential whilst developing the skills and mindset to thrive in our changing world, is idea for a child who is transferring during the school year. Prepare your child for their new academic programme and reassure them that the curricula offer multiple entry points so that they can quickly pick up the learning, even if they haven’t previously studied a programmes.

Depending on their age, your child may take an online test and in-class assessment as part of their application. Students may also undertake a baseline, one-to-one activity with their teacher in their first week and should be observed by a learning specialist. This enables the school to ensure they can provide the right level of personalised support and challenge from your child’s first lesson. Should students require additional support, the school should offer a broad range of short-term and long-term options for various educational needs, including English language support.

3. Sparking new friendships

One of the biggest sources of worry for a child starting school is making new friends, particularly if they’ve missed the start of the year. Before they start, encourage your child to spend some time in the new school. They can meet their teachers and classmates, and familiarise themselves with the location of key areas of the school, such as their classrooms, toilets and changing rooms. Ask the school to introduce your child to fellow new starters or buddy families so that you’re able to chat or arrange playdates before starting.
We find that children often feel more comfortable asking their peers questions and advice and so it’s important to have students, who have also joined mid-year, take a leading role in welcoming your child. Hopefully your new starter will find many friendly faces who are keen to guide them around school, introduce them to fellow students and help them learn the ropes.

4. Establishing new routines

Structure makes children feel more comfortable and understanding their school routine will help your child feel as though they fit in. Before they start, collect details of their school schedule and uniform and equipment lists so that your child feels confident that they have the right kit. Make sure they know small but important aspects of school life, such as where to eat lunch, put their bags or use the library.

At home, you can continue current routines or establish new ones to help your child embrace the change. Perhaps practice the journey to school so your child knows what to expect and builds confidence.  Your child could also lead some of the decision-making, such as what you will do to celebrate the end of their first week.

5. Creating exciting moments

This is a great opportunity to teach your child to view change positively. While they may be sad to leave their old school, this is a chance to seize all the exciting opportunities their new school has to offer and make a host of new friends, whilst keeping in touch with old ones.

Tell your child about everything they can look forward to at their new school, including language options and special programmes, to help build excitement.

Your child’s new teacher should encourage your child to take a leading role in their learning, encouraging them to challenge themselves and stretch their learning. They should also create opportunities for your child to shine in class during their first weeks, helping to quickly build their confidence and sense of achievement.

6. Enriching opportunities

Extra-curricular activities are a fantastic way for children to continue their passions or discover new interests whilst making friends, so we encourage you to sign your child up.

Parents are also valued members of a school community and should stay involved in school life when possible. Look to participate in fun activities, social events and opportunities that contribute to the school, which also help build your network of new friends.

7. Open communication

It may take some time for your child to feel happy and settled in their new school, but we believe the key to a successful transition is regular, open communication between students, parents and teachers, at home and in school. In addition to planned meetings and updates, we encourage conversations where your child can express their feelings freely and parents and teachers can share their observations on how the student is coping with the change. By doing this, the school can build on your child’s successes and quickly address any challenges so they don’t become larger issues.