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9 Ways to Get Involved at Your New School
Elizabeth McDonnell

Entering a new school is exciting! But it’s also natural to feel a bit nervous about being a newcomer to any community. Whether your child is starting a new school, entering a new grade, or you just want to get more involved the year, these tips will help you and your child make a smooth transition and feel like part of the school family in no time.

Smiles (even masked!) and cheerful greetings during drop-off and pick-up will help your family readily connect with faculty, staff and other parents/guardians. Modeling this behavior shows your child that you like and trust the people at their school, and reinforces that school is a safe place to be. Starting and ending the day this way helps make every school day a great one!

Attend school events, both in-person and virtually. Meet other families and get to know the teachers and administrators and help them to get to know you! Pro tip: If attending a Zoom event for parents, change your profile name to something like “Jennifer–Mom of Kayla, Gr. 4” so they can easily associate you with your child.

Get involved with parent-teacher organizations. You don’t have to make a big commitment right away. Volunteer for a small role in an upcoming event so you can meet other parents and discover more about the school culture before taking on bigger responsibilities. This is a meaningful way for your child to see you as part of their school experience and to learn the importance of giving back to the communities your family belongs to.

Read your school’s communications faithfully. Messages to parents are designed to help families get involved and stay connected. At St. Andrew’s, we send out our ‘Ohana News regularly to keep families informed about upcoming events and to share highlights of recent activities. It’s always good to be in the know!

Establish friendly lines of communication with your child’s teacher. Feel free to ask questions—beyond academics—so you can support your child’s whole experience of school. For instance, ask for insider tips on what to expect during Spirit Week so your child can fully participate and you’re not scrambling to put together a suitable Wacky Wednesday outfit at the last minute!

Purchase school logo wear so your family can show your school spirit at campus events or out in the community! Taking personal pride in your school is a wonderful way to connect with your school ʻohana from the inside out.

Follow your school’s social media accounts to learn about what’s happening in other grade levels and schoolwide. It’s a great way to see what’s in store for students as they grow. Younger children are more eager about their future when they know what to expect!

Take special note of time-honored traditions to gain a deeper understanding of what your school values. At St. Andrew’s Schools, our annual celebration of Queen Emma’s birthday with a chapel service and presentation of hoʻokupu, which means offering or tribute, honors both our Hawaiian and Episcopal heritages. This tradition is a wonderful way for our students to remember that they carry on Queen Emma’s legacy of compassionate and courageous leadership.

The most important thing to know about successfully entering a new environment is to feel confident that your school wants your family to feel included as much as you do. At St. Andrew’s Schools, we have so much aloha for our families because each one adds a special quality to our vibrant community. When the family becomes an enthusiastic part of the school ʻohana, we know that the student will learn, have fun and thrive – both inside and outside the classroom!

More Resources for Parents:

· “The Importance of Family Involvement at School” from Youth First

· “10 Relatable Books About Being the New Kid at School” from Scholastic

· “Help Your Child Feel Connected at School” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This article first appeared in Honolulu Magazine earlier this month. See that post here.