Starting at a new school, while exciting, can also be challenging. Whether your child is switching schools to find a better fit, moving to a new town, or simply entering a new school after “graduating” from the last, this transition can make many children a bit anxious. Having helped families enter Mason Prep in all grades and during all times of the year, we understand the transition. We hope the following tips will help your child (and family) feel more confident as you move to a new school.
Tips to ease the transition to a new school
- Meet the Teacher
If possible, bring your child to meet his or her teacher and other teachers and administrators your child will see during the school day. Seeing familiar faces in classrooms and hallways will make your child feel more at home. Ms. Sarah Evans, a 5th and 6th grade teacher at Mason Prep says, “Ask about any opportunities for your child to visit prior to their first day. Many students who are joining us in 5th or 6th grade will come for a shadow day in the spring before beginning school in the fall. This lets them meet their teachers and future classmates, and we love having a head start on getting to know our new students.” Adds Mason Prep Head of School Erik Kreutner, “Our Assistant Head of School and I frequently set up a transition conference with the parents of a new student prior to the student beginning classes. This is a great way to get to know our new families better and to set the student up for academic success.”
- Map Out Your Route
Make the drive from your home to school several times to get the know the route (and to map out a back-up plan if you live somewhere prone to traffic!) Cementing your route will make the ride seem routine for your child, lessening stress on the first day.
- Discover Summer Opportunities
Ask about any summer programs or camps that are run by the school (or that many students attend). Says Ms. Ashton Hooker, a 5th and 6th grade teacher at Mason Prep, “Our Summer Academy is a wonderful way for our new students to get to know their classmates, teachers, and the school in general. Along with helping to keep students’ academic and study skills sharp, this week provides a relaxed environment for making new friends.”
- Attend New Family Events
Many schools host new student and family events to welcome new families, so be on the
lookout for those get-togethers. These are great for meeting not only other families that are
new to the school, but also current families that can help navigate all the questions you may
- Encourage Involvement
Encourage your child to participate in clubs and activities. Says Mrs. Roseann Jordan, Assistant Head of School at Mason Prep, “We offer an array of afterschool activities that appeal to different interests – art, sports, science, dance, and more. These activities are a great way for new students to meet children who share similar interests.” Be sure to make new friends yourself. Getting to know other parents will mean more opportunities for socializing (for you and your child) and you will have some go-to moms and dads to help with any questions that come up.
- Lend a Helping Hand
It can be tricky to get to know the parents of your child’s new classmates, but chances are your new school welcomes parental involvement. Volunteer for the Parent Teacher Organization, read a book to your child’s class, help with a class party, or chaperone a field trip – most classrooms are very busy, so there are likely many opportunities to pitch in.
- Find Carpool Buddies
If you will be taking your child to school, check with the school office about carpooling opportunities. Touching base with families who live nearby can mean not only help with driving, but also new neighborhood friends.
Above all, understand that your new school wants you and your family to feel welcome, so don’t be shy about asking for help. This sentiment is echoed by Mr. Kreutner and Mrs. Jordan, “We work very hard to get to know your child and your family before you get here. We encourage questions and maintain an open-door policy – no one expects you to know everything!”
When It Makes Sense to Switch Schools
There are many choices when it comes to finding the right school for your child. Sometimes, a family chooses a school that turns out to be not quite right. Deciding to change schools can be difficult, but when everyone involved in the process (parents, students, and schools) is working to figure out what is best for the student, the outcome is a happy child.
“Our daughter was having a rough time academically – not in grades, but in success. She wasn’t in an environment that was focused on supporting and challenging each student. Immediately upon the move to Mason Prep, she would come home excited. We love hearing about what she’s learning, what she loves, and what her passions are. Watching her confidence build and seeing her spread her wings has been phenomenal.” – Laura Brisson, Mason Prep parent
“I was very nervous to start 4th grade, but I made a friend the very first day! Everyone was nice, especially my teacher, Mrs. Shaddrix. I’m really looking forward to 5th grade.” – Andrew Foggon, entered Mason Prep in the 4th grade.
Want to hear what more parents are saying? Check out some video testimonials from parents that have moved their kids to Mason Prep and why they knew this school was the right fit for their kids.
Why Mason Prep May Be the Right Fit for Your Child
With so many schools around the Lowcountry to choose from, it can be an overwhelming decision for parents. One thing that really sets Mason Prep apart from other schools is their focus on the whole child. With a small student to teacher ratio, state of the art equipment, and the opportunity to earn high school credit while in middle school, students graduate from Mason Prep exceptionally well prepared, both on an academic level as well as a social one. But Mason Prep goes beyond academics. The afterschool activities, field trips, and community service provide students with the type of learning that can’t always be found in a classroom.
- Afterschool activities: With activities such as karate, soccer, yoga, art, and science club (to name a few) parents can rest easy knowing that their kids can simply go from school to their activities, with no driving necessary! There is also the option of a supervised extended day program where students can do homework and play outside. Extended day is a very flexible service for our parents. Students do not need to be signed up ahead of time to attend, and they can stay for as little or long a time as needed.
- Community service: Service Learning Projects are weaved into the curriculum at every grade level. At Mason Prep, service is more than bringing in a can of food or a dollar for a certain cause. Some past SLPs include battling plastic pollution and supporting shelter animals. Eighth-grade students must complete twenty hours of community service as a part of their education in becoming contributing members of their society.
- Field trips: With the beautiful Charleston peninsula at their fingertips, Mason Prep students have the opportunity for a wide variety of experiences. Field trips include the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Charleston Museum, the South Carolina Aquarium, the Gibbes Museum of Art, the Dock Street Theater, the Sottile Theater, Gaillard Auditorium, and many more! Overnight trips begin in the fourth grade. Mason Prep sixth graders travel to Orlando to take part in Disney educational programs presented by the Disney Youth Education Series (Y.E.S.) for science and social studies and the eighth graders’ study of civics and history culminates in a week-long tour of Washington, D.C.