It’s tough for any child to be the “new kid” in a room full of strangers. This is especially true for children that have moved from a faraway place. Military families, or just children whose parents were transferred at their job all know this struggle.
Teachers and families have to remember that this usually does not just mean a new school with new friends, teachers and perhaps a few bullies. It also puts the child is in a completely new environment. They have to learn where the park with the best swings in town is and deal with new monsters in a foreign bedroom.
School can often be a sanctuary for many children. It is up to the teacher to ensure that the new student feels comfortable enough in their classroom to flourish and make friends easily. Read below for some helpful tips on how to make the “new kid” fit in and feel comfortable in their new surroundings.
Welcome Aboard, New Friend
Have all of the students in your class decorate a welcome banner for their new classmate. This will make the new student feel special and give them something to take home with them. It will serve as a reminder of how open and friendly their new classroom is.
Encourage the new student to dive right in to whatever classroom assignment you are working on. Even if they do not understand the work right away, this is the best way to make them feel at home. Try to take things slowly for a few days while the student acclimates to their new surroundings.
All About Me
Many new children are reluctant to share a lot about themselves on the first day they enter the classroom. This does not have to be uncomfortable and embarrassing for your new student. Going around the class and finding a few outgoing students to list some of their favorite things is a great way to get everyone excited about a new potential friend. Try some of the questions below.
- Where were you born?
- What is your favorite color?
- What do you like to do after school?
- What is your favorite food?
After a few of the more outgoing students answer these questions, ask the new student. They will be more likely to open up if they share some of the same interests with the other students. Even if there is not a match, choose one of the more outgoing students to be an “ambassador” for the class. Having a “buddy” will make the new student feel like they have made a friend right out of the gate. This will also give the student a chance to learn the rules of the classroom from a peer and an adult. A “buddy” that has been in your class all year long will already be well-versed in the rules and help the new student stay on track.
Be sure to call the new child by his or her first name. Provide nametags for the other students to wear if they wish. This way the new student can learn the names of their peers quickly.
There is a lot to learn about a new school. The cafeteria could be hidden down a long hallway. The library may be in a completely different building. Provide your student with all the information they need before they leave your classroom. Encourage them to ask as many questions as they may have. If the child seems shy, ask their new “buddy” to help them. Facilitate new friendships as much as possible to help with the transition.
Encourage students to come forward in the event of bullying. There is no easier way to make a new child feel completely unwelcome than being alienated by their new classmates. It should be made completely clear that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated in the classroom.
After a few days of homework, make it a point to check in with the new student by calling home and speaking to their parents. Find out what is going on at home and make sure everyone is adjusting well to their new surroundings. Encourage the parents to come to you with any kind of issues the child may have with their new school.
Daniel Horning is a writer for the moving labor marketplace, HireAHelper.com. He attended 13 different schools during his pre-school through college experience and knows what it’s like to be the new kid.