4 Friend-Making Tips for the New Kid in School

When summer winds down, the last thing most kids want to think about is heading back to school. But if you’re starting a new school this fall, it might be all you’ve thought about for weeks. It is hard being the new kid in school. The idea of starting over in a strange place filled with new faces can definitely be scary. You may get anxious thinking about making a good first impression on everyone you meet, and finding friends among kids who have already known each other for years.

While these jitters are both common and understandable, there’s a good chance you’re imagining a first day that’s a lot scarier than the one you will actually face in September. You may not realize it, but being the new kid in school can actually be a great opportunity to meet new people, discover potential friends, and explore some new interests as a result. With the right attitude, you can not only have an awesome first day at your new school, but you can set the tone for an exciting and memorable year. Here are some ways to make it happen:

1. Let your Newness be a Strength: Being the new kid in school is sort of like a free pass to learn about the people and activities that make the place special. Other kids will most likely understand, and even expect that you’re looking to establish a whole new social life. So don’t be afraid to get to know the kids in your classes. As someone who is still learning about the school, there are plenty of ways you can strike up a conversation. You can ask what kind of clubs people are joining, or ask what everyone thinks of the food in the cafeteria. Remember, you’re not the first kid who has ever been new. There’s nothing strange about standing out a little as you work to get your bearings.

2. Talk to Everyone: It’s easy to feel shy when you’re surrounded by people you’ve never met. But that shouldn’t hold you back from being social at your new school. There are kids in this school that have the potential to become great friends, and the best way to find them is by having conversations, to see what you have in common. Take advantage of down time on the bus and in the cafeteria. And don’t be discouraged if others don’t go out of their way to start conversations with you. Many of them will already have friends at the school, and will not actively be seeking out new ones. But that does not mean they won’t be open to getting to know you. So take the initiative and get the conversation rolling. You never know where it will lead.

3. Join Activities: During the early weeks of school, you’ll probably have the opportunity to sign up for sports, clubs and other activities. Don’t be afraid to join in! Joining activities based on your interests is a great way to connect with people who like the same things. Plus, regular meetings guarantee that you’ll get to hang out with others and be social, even if you haven’t established a group of friends yet. If you need some direction in picking out the right activity, try talking to your guidance counselor, or checking to see if there’s more information about your choices on the school’s website.

4. Take Some Time to Adjust: Making friends might seem like the absolute most important thing to do on your first day. But if you’re not able to meet this goal right away, there’s no need to stress. Building meaningful relationships can take time, and with a whole school full of new faces, you may not find the perfect friends right away. If that’s the case, just relax. Focus on getting to know the school, and all it has to offer. The more comfortable you become, the more confident you’ll be when you approach potential friends over the next few weeks.

It’s okay to still be nervous, even with these tips guiding you. Being the new kid in school can be scary, but just remember that with each day that passes, the novelty will wear off a little more. You may not find a new group of best friends on the first day, or even in the first week, but there are plenty more weeks ahead, and lots of new people to meet. As long as you keep a positive attitude, and stick to these tips, you’ll most likely have a great year.

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Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More