PCSing? A Teacher’s Tips for a Smooth School Transition
Step in those front doors, and be prepared to be overwhelmed. Between registration and sharing your child’s academic history, changing schools post-move can be daunting.
It doesn’t have to be though. When you talk to the teacher early and often, the school transition process can be so much smoother.
Reach Out Early
As soon as you have a pretty solid idea of where you are headed, contact schools in the next location. Whether you are calling or sending an email, it’s important to share a little bit about your family and child. This can help the school, public or private, inform you about the resources they have available. The worst thing is to find a school that looks awesome online, but doesn’t meet your child’s needs in real life.If you are enrolling in a private school, you can often complete this process online before you even arrive. At public schools, especially in the US, you will need to enroll in person.
However, this shouldn’t prevent you from sending digital copies of your child’s documents, like IEPs or gifted education plans, in advance. This will help the school tentatively place your child in a classroom, line up additional resources, or begin the collaboration process with you.
Whether you arrive on the actual first day or later in the school year, this is the best time to start the get-to-know-you process with your child’s teacher(s).
On that first day, send your child to school with an “All About Me” letter and “Parent Info Sheet”, you can find in the Ultimate Back-to-School Kit. Using these two specific documents will help your child share their story and your contact information at once. It will be easier for the teacher to help your child with this background information. Plus, you’ll be quickly added to the class email list.
Later on in the day, send a quick email. This email should be short, friendly, and positive. This sets you up to build a home-school team with your child’s teacher(s) and shows that you support him/her/them professionally.
Throughout the Year
During the school year, it’s important to find a good balance for your communication with the school. You do want to have frequent contact, but also don’t want to be “that parent” who sends in-depth emails multiple times each day.
A great way to stay informed is to read the class newsletter, check the online class or course portal, or to volunteer semi-regularly. This will keep you in the loop with school events and assignments, plus give you some facetime with the teacher.
If there are not online resources for your child’s class, make sure you take a good look at the graded work that comes home. Doing this will let you know about the content your child is learning and alert you to potential trouble spots.
If you have concerns or questions, reach out to the teacher immediately. Whether you are asking about homework or getting ready to handle a behavior situation, remember to keep your message short, sweet, and to the point. It’s important to really balance a blunt message with keeping communication positive and professional. This makes your concern or question the central message, while also recognizing the teacher’s expertise and expressing gratitude for their help.
For more email templates, meeting scripts, and talking points, get a copy of Talk to the Teacher! This book is filled with done-for-you communication strategies that will make talking to the teacher so much easier. You will feel more confident and prepared for every school situation!
How do you help your child transition schools? Share your best tips in the comments!
Meg Flanagan is the force behind MilKids Ed, an education blog and advocacy service for Foreign Service and Military families. She is the author of Talk to the Teacher, the go-to resource for families who want better school outcomes through improved communication. You can find Meg on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.