Give your mentee opportunities to express their feelings about the new school
If your mentee isn’t bringing up the topic but you notice they are more distracted or stressed out than usual, initiate a conversation. Acknowledge the change that is coming and ask open-ended questions to see if anything is concerning them.
Listen to fears and concerns
It’s tempting to try to downplay them or respond with a blanket statement like “you’ll be fine.” Sometimes just listening and empathizing is enough. Listen to what they have to say and offer practical suggestions if it appears they want your input.
Talk about your own life transitions
Strategic self-disclosure may be a useful tool to help your mentee see that worries are normal and expected. You may even get a laugh or two as you describe your own experiences and how you handled them.
Help with goal setting and getting involved in new things
Look at elective class offerings together and check out extracurricular activities. Talk about how an after school activity can help them make new friends, and how elective classes allow them to follow their own interests (and develop new ones) with students who share them.
Point out your mentee’s strengths and abilities
Adolescence can be a time of extreme highs and lows in self-esteem and self-confidence. Find ways to remind your mentee about their abilities and how they will help them be successful in their new school. Be specific in your praise. For example, “you’ve really gotten organized with your schoolwork this year. That will be helpful when you start middle (or high) school.”
Talk about friendships
Changing schools doesn’t have to mean losing friends. See if your mentee can name some students they want to get to know better who are going to the new school. Talk about how they have made new friends in the past. Remind your mentee of friends in other settings, too: in the neighborhood, place of worship, or sports activities.
Support your mentee
Worries won’t disappear when the school year is underway. Adjusting to the new school and finding their place will take time. As your mentee comes to you with problems and concerns listen and use open-ended questions to help problem-solve with them. You can’t fix their problems, but you can offer your own perspectives.