Considering changing schools? Top 6 tips to ease the transition

 Geneva Clayton - Head of Junior School at TIGS Thu 30 May 19


Congratulations you have a new job! Or bought a new house! Or your family has grown by one or two! Only problem is you will have to relocate and with that comes the need for your children to move schools. Many parents find themselves in this situation, perhaps for work or family circumstances or maybe the school their child is at hasn’t ended up being the right fit. Moving schools can bring about new opportunities and it may end up being one of the best decisions you’ve made. Here are some tips on how to prepare yourself and your kids for the move…

1) Decide on a short list
Deciding on which school is going to be best for your child can seem a bit overwhelming but there is so much information out there to help with the decision. Start by being clear on your reasons for the move and what you are seeking in a new school. Identify schools that provide an educational experience that will meet the unique needs of your child and are aligned with your personal beliefs and expectations. Make sure the school has before and after school care if you can’t always be there for 9am drop-off and 3pm pick-up. Some schools offer extra-curricular activities on site such as sport, dance, music and languages that extend the school day without the need for you to be the after-school taxi service.

2) Seek out quality information sources
The School’s website is a great place to gather information. It’s also important to visit the school, to learn more about the programmes and to see the school in action. Talk to key members of staff who will have the greatest impact on your child’s learning such as the Head of School and specialist teachers to find out how they cater to the specific needs of their students. Ask questions around the academic and pastoral care programmes, the cocurricular options, and parent and community involvement. As you tour the school, speak to the students themselves. They will provide a real insight into school life. Observe how the students interact with their teacher and each other and be sure to look for students engaged in their learning and having fun!

3) Involve your kids in the move
Provide your children as much involvement in the move as you can. Discuss the reasons they are moving schools and listen to any concerns they have, however, be confident in your decision, as you will have great insights into the needs of your child. Take them along to an Open Day or a meeting with their new teacher or principal and discuss the school’s transition programme. Are they allocated a buddy? Do they have an opportunity to connect with their new teacher and peers before they commence? Ask about whether the new school offers a trial programme when your kids can spend a day trying out their new school.

4) Connect with your new school community
Many parents like to ensure that their children have met a new friend or two before they change to a new school. Attend events such as the school fete or musical production to familiarise your family with the environment and provide an opportunity for new friendships to form. Find out in advance if there are any social groups and how they meet and communicate. Parents at your new school will be a wealth of knowledge to help you through the early days and your children will be reassured by your confidence in guiding them through the transition.

5) Look for opportunities for your children to explore their interests and talents
With a change of schools comes new opportunities. Perhaps sport and art classes, camping trips or music lessons. Make sure there are plenty of options that cater to your child’s current interests but also those that might develop in the future. You may just have the next Steve Jobs, da Vinci or Ronaldo on your hands! The programmes may be run by the school or just held in the local area but they will provide a two-fold benefit in terms of your child’s learning and their opportunity to form new friendships.

6) Be confident in your decision
This confidence is reached once you have had an opportunity to consider the tips suggested. Your partnership with school is essential and you need to feel confident that the school is the right fit for your child and family. Ensure that the chosen school is ‘student centred’ and interested in the individual, rather than ‘parent centred’ or ‘school centred’. Consider the needs of your child, your hopes and dreams for their educational experience, involve your children in the move, listen to their concerns and find the best ways for them to quickly form new connections, giving them the best chance of a smooth transition.

I’d like to share with you two quotes from a student and parent who just moved schools to TIGS. I hope you find this both useful and encouraging as you prepare for your own move: 

“The transition to TIGS was seamless for our daughter who was changing schools late in the term. The School offered their opinion on the best time to integrate her, suggesting a date in the term when she would feel included, make friends and fold into the School’s activities with ease, which is exactly what happened. As new parents we found the Co-curricular Book so helpful with choosing outside opportunities. The class ‘What’s App’ chat group supported us with upcoming school activities and helped us to connect with a wider parent group outside just our daughters’ friends. Since joining TIGS the academic opportunities for our daughter have expanded and she has been exposed to new interests. Our overall experience has been fantastic.”  Year 5 parent. 

“I was worried about leaving my friends to go to a new school.I liked that I got to visit the class before I came.I met the classroom teacher and made some friends. It was a bit scary not knowing where to go in the school, but my buddy helped me around and showed me where things were. I really enjoyed playing soccer during the sport lesson.When I started, my buddy was there to help me.I was nervous but I felt better because I had visited before.I’m not new anymore." Year 5 student   

If you would like more information about The Illawarra Grammar School, please contact the School on (02) 4220 0200 or email


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