Being the new kid ain’t easy. Whether you’re moving into a huge school district where nobody will even notice that you’re new except you or into a tiny school district, where everyone and their second cousin twice removed will know you’re new, it can be a challenging experience to acclimate to a new environment. Even if you’re just changing school buildings within the same district, it can be a difficult adjustment! So here are a few tips to ease the transition of newness so that you can get back to actually learning (and, okay, making some new friends too).
Scout it Out
You never walk into unfamiliar territory totally blind if you’re a master strategist. So why would you enter a new school without knowledge of its layout? Knowing how to get from your locker to your chorus lesson can help ease some of the first-day jitters. Try calling your school counselor before school starts and asking if you could come in for a quick tour. If someone isn’t available to guide you around, ask if they have a map of the building available to help you. Now, rather than spending your first day asking everyone if they know where Mr. Vanetti’s health class is, you can walk confidently in the right direction. As a bonus, if you see someone else looking lost, you can offer up your knowledge of the school (or your map!). Who knows? You might even become friends.
If you’re going to be the new kid and not have to switch classes, a tour can still be helpful. Knowing where the gym, nurse’s office, and the best water fountains are still can’t hurt, and that little bit of familiarity can go a long way.
Rules, Rules, Rules
Another good thing to do before the first day is to find out what the school rules are. I’m not saying you have to memorize the school code of conduct, but it’s good to know the major things that could impact you on your first day, like the dress code. It’s always a little bit stressful to be caught breaking a rule, even if you didn’t know you were doing it, so by asking the school counselor for a list of any rules you’ll be saving yourself a lot of headaches later.
All My Bags Are Packed, I’m Ready to Go
The night before starting at a new school, make sure that everything is in its place. Spend some of the time you’re awake with the jitters doing something productive instead, which might make sleeping easier anyway! Make sure you have the materials for every class you’ll be taking, and that they’re clearly labeled! Have extra writing utensils readily available, as you may not want to have your first impression as the kid who can never find a pen. Have your backpack sitting by the door ready for you to grab the next morning for an easy time out the door.
Hi, My Name Is…
Even if you already know some people at your new school, this is an opportunity to meet a lot of new people. Don’t close yourself off from this experience. One of the things I wish I had known in high school is that a lot of how people perceive you has to do with how you perceive yourself. If you think you’re not cool enough to hang out with the star football player, then he’s definitely going to think you’re not cool enough. But if you have confidence and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone, a lot of people will respect that and respond well to it. So get your winning smile ready and introduce yourself, and be ready to answer potential questions about yourself.
This goes double for teachers. Don’t necessarily bombard them on your first day in the classroom, but make sure that by the end of the first week you’ve made an effort to say hello and introduce yourself outside of the roll call. Chances are, this will make a positive impression on the teacher.
Be prepared for potential stand-in-front-of-the-class-and-introduce-yourself situations. Know something interesting about yourself and something you did over your summer vacation ready so that you can breezily answer. Some teachers do this just to the new kids, but others have everyone participate. Either way, you’ll be ready with a few quick answers so that the experience can be quick and painless.
Be Who You Want to Be
The best part of a new school is that you can totally reinvent yourself. Were you super quiet in your last school and never participated? You can turn over a new leaf without anyone’s judgment! Be outgoing, try out for the marching band, do whatever it is that you were too scared to do at your old school! This is a chance for you to explore parts of yourself without judgment or consequences, so why not?
If you have some more great tips for new kids, or were once a new kid yourself and want to share your experiences, please let us know! We’d love to hear from you!