This part of my blog is based on the advice of a pre-teen called Milly. Through coaching, Milly is learning how to make being her age a little less complicated – for herself and others around her. She would like to share her ideas, in the hope that she can help others going through the same kind of things.
Starting A New School
“Everyone gets nervous about starting a new school. I’m really excited but I’m also really nervous! I’m nervous that the teachers won’t like me, that I won’t know what to do, that I won’t make friends – and that my Dad will be super annoying when he takes me to school and embarrasses me in front of everyone.”
Here are a few bits of advice to help make the start of either a brand new school, or a new school year, less stressful:
New teachers can be scary, and that’s because you don’t know what their rules and expectations are. You may have heard that Mr X or Mrs Y is really strict, so just keep it in mind; wait and see how it goes. Just be calm, smile nicely when you meet them and listen to what they are telling you about the behaviour they want to see in class. Teachers are always more strict in the beginning because they want a good start to the school year – for them and for all the children in the class. You’ll get to know them soon enough, and they will get to know you. So give it a bit of time, is really my best advice; smile, be polite, and wait and see.
If you’re worried about reputation, and you are going to a new school, remember, every year is a fresh start. No one really wants to deliberately get into trouble (and that’s a different blog post if they do). Mostly, you don’t have a reputation – you’re just worried about getting one on your first day. You’re worried you will do something wrong, or get lost, or your bag won’t fit into the locker etc. You worry that a teacher will see and you’ll get into trouble. Remember, teachers see this every year, and they are really hoping that, if you do have a reputation, this is the year you can break free of it, or if you don’t they are not looking to give you one. Really. Stick with others and watch what they do.
I Don’t Know What To Do
Everyone that’s new has this worry – even adults starting a new job. It’s completely OK and normal to worry about this. You are in a new pace, with new people, with new routines. My best advice is to carefully (but not actually staring at others because that’s a bit weird) watch and see what others do and follow their lead. If you’re not sure, it is also a good way to start talking to someone and ask for their help.
“I’m worried that my bag won’t fit in my locker, that I’ll lose my locker key or I won’t have anywhere to put the key.”
I wrote down some of my fears – some are just there to worry you and you need to say to yourself, “I am going to out that at the back of my mind and deal with it if it really happens.” I talked to my mum about the key and we went and bought a key ring, so if I needed it, it was there. I also checked my school uniform to see if there was a loop on the skirt. There was, so we made sure I had a thing on the key ring to clip it onto the loop – if that’s what the other girls did and if we were allowed. I also worried about getting lost so I decided I would always stick with a group and try to just chat and say “Hi” to other people, even if I didn’t know them.
Lots of people worry about making friends – it is normal. My best advice, even if you are really shy, is to smile, and say “Hi”. This is a good first step. If they don’t respond, then have a few prepared things to say. My advice is, try not to stick with only one new friend as it might stop you making friends with other people too.
At my old school, I used to take a book onto the playground and read all the time. It was a great way to protect me as I had something to “disappear” into and then it didn’t really matter if no one was my friend or invited me to play. Actually, this isn’t true – of course it hurt. I now realise that the book made it look like I am not interested in talking to anyone else, so I’m not going to do this in my new school.
“Honestly, just talk to everyone – soon people will realise that you’re friendly and they will come up to you and start talking. I know it’s easy to say and I am really going to give it a go when I start my new school this week.”
If you’re worried about your parents embarrassing you on your first day, maybe because they have been teasing you about it, or you are really unsure, then find another adult to share your worries with, if you can. Just check-in with them that he’s not really going to give you a big hug and kiss and hold your hand when you go to your new school – and you’re 11 years old – because that’s so embarrassing. He’s probably only joking, but if it is on your mind, try to ask someone for help. If that’s not possible, try to say politely but firmly, “Dad, I am a little bit worried about this teasing. I’d really like to have a good start at school, so please I need your help to make that happen.” If you’re polite and share your feelings, hopefully the message will get through.