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When Your Family Moves: School Daze

"When we moved I was totally freaked about starting in a new school."

"The hardest part was making new friends and finding classes!!!!"

"I have moved, but I've always stayed in the same school district. I've never had to deal with leaving my friends, and if I did, I don't know how I'd manage!"

What's scarier than having to start over in a new school? Not much. It's hard enough to be dealing with new teachers and classmates, but you might also have to adjust to new ways of grading, unfamiliar rules and guidelines, and a style of teaching that's slightly different than you're used to.

So what's the best tool to help you deal? Information. The more you know about what's in store, the easier and less frightening it will be.

  • Surf the Web. Most schools now have their own Web sites that contain lots of facts about the school, like student rules, subjects to be taught, bus schedules, and all kinds of info that's important to know. Start by looking at the International School Web Site Registry or Yahoo's Directory of K-12 Schools. It's even better if you can do all this with a parent!

  • Connect with your new principal. Write a letter or e-mail to the principal or guidance counselor of the school you'll be attending. Introduce yourself, explain when you'll be arriving at the school, and request answers to any questions you may have. Here are some things you might ask about:

    • The subjects taught in your grade
    • Bus routes and drop-off policies
    • Dress codes
    • Codes of conduct
    • Grading policies
    • Lunch programs
    • Gym and athletics

    You might also ask if you can correspond with one or more of your new teachers before your arrival, and if the school can send you a student welcome kit or handbook.

  • Ask your current teachers to write about you. A letter or progress report from a former teacher will really help you and your new teachers make a smooth transition. These letters might include a description of the subjects you've been studying, big projects you've completed, and any clubs you've been involved with. If you play a school sport and plan to join the team at your new school, get a letter from your coach too!

  • Connect with students at your new school. If your parents know families with kids who attend your new school, try writing letters or e-mails to them to get the inside scoop. Are there any school traditions you should know about? Which students and teachers will be most helpful in getting you settled in? If you've already established contact with a teacher or the principal, ask if he or she can put you in touch with a student who has similar interests.

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