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Today's Family Magazine

10 ways to help the new kid in school

By Katy M. Clark

Being the new kid in school is a phenomenon that many kids will experience in their lives.  School districts and government agencies officially refer to it as “student mobility,” defined as any time a student changes school for reasons other than grade promotion. Student mobility can be voluntary, such as changing schools to participate in a magnet program, or involuntary, due to a change in a parent’s job or a move to a new school district.

I was the new kid myself several times growing up.  I can tell you that I was not thinking about what kind of statistic I was when I was the new kid.  All I knew was that I was alone, nervous, and scared.

The experience of being the new kid has encouraged me to teach my own children to look for the new kids and reach out to them.  Below are 10 concrete ways I’m teaching my kids to help the new kids in their schools.  May these tips be helpful to share with your own children as the school year begins:
  1. �Recognize that there will be new kids at school, kids who do not know anyone.  Look for them, don’t look past them.
  2. �Say hello.  Ask where the new student is from.  Does she have any pets or siblings?
  3. Sit with the new kid at lunch.
  4. Invite the new student to hang out after school.
  5. �Did I mention just talk to the new kid?  It's okay if you're not best friends.  Maybe you won't have anything in common.  But if you never even talk to the new kid, then you won't find out if you have anything in common or not.
  6. �Compliment the new student.  Maybe she has a cool backpack.  Maybe she's wearing a shirt with a sports team that is also your favorite sports team.  Once when I was the new kid a girl told me she liked my watch band.  It was a small comment, but it meant so much to me.
  7. �Tell the new kid about clubs, sports, or other activities at school.  One year I was invited to join the basketball team and gained a whole team of friends.
  8. �Sit with her on the bus or stand with him at the pickup loop.  Even if it's just for a day or two.
  9. Help the new student find things like the gym and the cafeteria.
  10. Be welcoming and inclusive in group work in class.  Remember, the new kid knows no one and things may have run differently at his old school.
Parents, teach your kids to look for the new students and take any of these steps to be kind and helpful.  As a result, the new kid won't feel so alone and will be one step closer to finding her way in a new school.

And if you see any new moms or dads standing alone at the pickup loop after school or wandering the halls looking lost, then it’s your turn to say hello.  Ask where they are from.  If you never even talk to the new parents, then you won't find out if you have anything in common or not.