Transitioning to school

transitioning to school

Whether it be starting primary school or going into high school, the transition to school can be emotionally demanding for children. Some of the challenges faced by children include having a new role, adapting to a new environment, making new friends and meeting new teachers. The difficulties that these children face may lead to significant effects on their educational and psychological outcomes [4]. However, not only is this a challenging time for children it is also quite intense and demanding for the whole family [4]. In saying this, it is a period of time where parents may also be emotional themselves as they allow their child to develop independence and face new experiences on their own.

The following are a few strategies to make transitioning a little easier for your children and families:

Be Positive

Along with the stressors of schooling there is also much excitement that comes with it. Remind your child of all the new opportunities and experiences that they will have. Some examples may include; the opportunity to learn new things, make new friends, develop areas of interests (such as joining clubs and sports), go on excursions and attend school carnivals and activities.

Validate emotions

Whatever the feeling is or whether there are a mix of feelings, it is important to validate your child’s emotions. In doing so it can help your child deal with their fears but also promote positive mental health [2,5]. You can do this by acknowledging how they feel, give a reason and help them come up with a solution. 

Encourage Friendships

Meeting new peers can be scary but also exciting as it is an opportunity to make great friendships. Talk to your child about ways to make new friends but also let them know that they can still keep in touch with their old friends. Try to encourage your child to talk to someone new, who may also be looking for a companion or who share the same interest, and let them know that others will be nervous too. You can also encourage your child to invite their new friends to your home or allow them to spend time at their new friend’s home.

Assist with Organisation

Some children may be overwhelmed as they face new academic demands and find it difficult to manage their workload or organise their school materials. Some ways to help your child with organisational skills include, encouraging them to think about what school materials and equipment are needed, helping them colour code their books, and encouraging them to use a diary to keep track of homework and assignments.

Help establish Familiarity

Having a map of the school and learning where all the main building and areas are can help your child navigate around the school easier. If possible visit the school with your child and walk around with them to allow them to become comfortable.

Be Involved

Being involved in your child’s education you are showing that you care about schooling and as a result your child is more likely to value the importance themselves [1]. You can choose to be involved in your child’s education by volunteering at school events, helping out in classrooms or even being on the school board. Some parents may not have the time or resources to attend school activities however you can still be involved in your child’s education by showing an interest in their learning, monitoring homework closely and helping with homework and assignments. A trip to the library or other educational facilities can also encourage and motivate your child to learn [1].

Just Breath!

When matters become too overwhelming and a bit stressful take the opportunity to engage in some calming activities. You can assist your child to practice some deep breathing or mindfulness. Don’t forget to also take a moment for yourself and engage in these activities as well. There are some guided mindfulness and meditation modules on apps such as the “Smiling Mind.” For more information please refer to

Written by: Mary Nguyen, psychologist at ACPC



1.    American Psychological Association. (2019). Transitions to School: What Helps Children Succeed? Essentials for success in preschool and beyond.Retrieved February 4, 2019, from

2.    Coyne, M. (2019) Validation of children’s feelings promotes positive mental health. Retrieved February 4, 2019 from

3.    Nasrullah, S., & Khan, M. S. (2015). The Impact of Time Management on the Student’s Academic Achievements. Journal or Literature, Languages and Linguistics, 11, 66-71.
4.    O’Toole, L., Hayes, N., & Mhathuna, M. M. (2014). A Bio-ecological Perspective on Educational Transition.Procedia - Social and Behavioural Sciences, 140, 121 – 127.

5.    Sorin, R. (2003). Validating Young Children’s Feelings and Experiences of Fear. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 4(1), 80-89.

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