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Archive for the ‘Ex Pats and Newcomers’ Category

Adjusting to a New School: Anxiety and Making Friends

Monday, August 31st, 2015

In this uncertain economy, relocating is usually accepted by the grateful job hunter as just a part of the job description. The impact on the children cannot be minimized, however, and children will process the event in their own way depending on their age, the number of past moves they can recall, and the distance that will be traveled. Important questions are: Will there be an acculturation issue?  Will there be a language barrier?  Has your child ever visited the area in which you intend to relocate? Guarding against new school anxiety is all about learning the landscape.

Here are some things the experts recommend when adjusting to a new school and town:

1. Make choosing a school a team effort.  If you’re choosing between a few schools, talk with your child about what each one has to offer. After you choose the school, allow your child to visit and take a tour. This will greatly reduce new school anxiety.

2. Take time to say goodbye to the old school. Make a scrapbook, or ask all the kids in the class sign a T-shirt, picture frame, or an autograph book. Make sure you also give old friends and teachers information about how to stay in touch with your child.

3. Keep a positive focus! Present the new school as a place where they will learn new things and make friends.

4. Encourage school involvement. Your child is more likely to engage academically if he/she feels connected through a school activity, club or sport. Ask:

  • What are your goals for the school year?
  • How are you going to get involved in school outside of the classroom?
  • What is your favorite thing to do right now and how might you find others like you?

5. If you are moving your family to a location where a different language is spoken, think about learning the language and culture together. Conversing at the dinner table only in the new language can lead to lots of laughs.

Some good resources are:

For younger children:

The Berenstain Bears Go to School, by Stan and Jan Berenstain (Random House, 1978)
Arthur’s Teacher Trouble, by Marc Brown (Trumpet, 1986)

This was originally published in 2012 but it is still a great resource!

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of found in The Woodlands TX.


Children with Special Educational Needs: A Guide for Newcomers and Ex-Pats

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

This article by therapist Jason Davis was originally posted in 2012 but it contains great info parents can use now.

Parents who have concerns about a child’s academic or behavioral progress turn to schools to help them determine what is best for their child. Likewise, when school personnel notice a child having difficulty maintaining passing grades or appropriate behavior, they will act as a special education advocate and may turn to parents to introduce options for intervention.

In the United States, school districts have programs that can assist parents in determining the appropriate academic placement and interventions for their children with special educational needs. Many parents do not know what these programs do or how they can best assist their child and it can indeed be confusing. Most interventions will either be classified as 504 or Special Education.

The term, “504 program” comes from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This national law protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities. If parents or the school can document that a child has a disability, part of the special education process are interventions that can be designed to help the child succeed academically. 504 interventions are usually classified as “accommodations.” Examples of disabilities that can be covered under the 504 program include everything from something temporary like a broken arm to chronic conditions like dyslexia, ADHD, or diabetes.

Special education programs fall under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These programs are designed for children who have a disability that is considered a “qualifying condition.” Examples of qualifying special education disabilities are blindness, deafness, and developmental delays. Children receiving special education services will have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) rather than accommodations.

Parents are encouraged to visit the government website for IDEA and talk to their local school district to learn more about disabilities that fall under both 504 and special education and how they can partner with their school to develop the best plan for their child.

Jason Davis is a Licensed Professional Counselor. He received his Masters of Science in Counseling from the University of Houston Clear Lake and a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater from the University of Texas at Austin. He can be found providing counseling services at in The Woodlands, Texas. Contact Jason at 936-697-2822 or

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