Preparing for school

Starting a new school can feel scary – it is normal to feel that way. You might be worried about making new friends or what your new teachers will be like. Everyone feels this way, but it can feel more difficult if you have a visible difference. You might be worried about being teased or bullied about how you look. Having a visible difference can mean that other people are curious about your appearance, or they might wonder what happened to you, or if it hurts. It might be helpful to think about some of the things you are worried about when starting a new school and look at some ways of handling these worries. 

How should I prepare for my first day?

Worrying about first day is probably the first thing in your mind – and you might be anxious about it for some time before the day arrives. You might be going to your new school with friends from your old school, or maybe you don’t know anyone else. It’s normal to feel nervous, and there are some things that can help on your first day.

Practical tips

  • Think about what you will wear. This might be a school uniform – and then you will be wearing the same as everyone else. Or you might be able to wear your everyday clothes – so choose something you feel comfortable in – and something you like that makes you feel confident. Maybe talk to your family about what you would like to wear on your first day.
  • Think about what you need to take. Make a list of all the things you need and plan a shopping trip. Having all the essentials you need will help you to feel more ready.
  • Check out the school timetable. Have a look at your timetable so you know what you can expect. What subjects will you be doing? When are the breaks? How long are lessons? If you have any physical health needs this can help you to plan if you need to take a break from lessons and your parents/carers can let the school know in advance to make plans for this.
  • Ask questions. Speak to your family about any worries you have and they can help you find out information and reassure you.

What if I get asked about my visible difference?

You might be worried about being asked about your visible difference. It can help to plan a response. Think about how much or how little you want to say, it’s better to stick to the facts, for example; “I have psoriasis, but I am ok”, or a longer description for example “I have Crouzon’s Syndrome, it affects how my face looks, but I don’t have any other problems”. You might find it helpful to look at our self-help Preparing Responses. 

Do I need to tell the school anything about my visible difference?

You and your family might decide to tell the school about your visible difference. It is up to you – but this can be helpful to:

  • Make sure teachers know about your visible difference, and how you describe it to others. This can help teachers to explain it to others who might be curious.
  • Tell teachers if you have any physical health needs. For example, you might need longer to move between classes, or need to sit in a particular place in the class (for example, if you have hearing or sight problems you might be better sat at the front of the class). Talking to your teacher before school starts means you don’t have to worry about this later.
  • Tell the school about any upcoming hospital appointments or surgery. You might need time off school to attend the hospital. It can be helpful to explain this to the school before you start so they can plan for this. 

How do I make friends?

You might worry about this – and worry people might judge you on how you look. Remember – how you look is only a small part of who you are. Although it’s often the first thing people notice, we choose people to be our friends because of their personality and whether they like the same things we do. You might be nervous – but lots of people will feel the same about making new friends.

When you meet new people at school, here are some tips on starting a conversation;

  • Ask to join in with others
  • Ask someone if they would like to join you. For example “Would you like to have lunch with me?”
  • Start a conversation. Use general questions for example, “Do you know which way to go to maths?”, “Where did you go to school before?”, “How is your first day?”
  • Introduce yourself “Hi I’m Sarah, what’s your name?”

You might find it helpful to look at Meeting new people

What can I do if I am bullied?

Schools have special policies in place to stop bullying. If you are being bullied you need to tell someone so they can help you and make it stop. Speak to your teacher or if you feel more comfortable, speak to a family member who can tell school what is happening. For more information, you might want to look at What is bullying.

Almost everyone feels nervous about new situations and meeting new people. Being prepared can help you to feel more in control. Take a look at our Confidence Tools to look at ways of managing any worries you might have about starting school. 

Motto tool

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What is bullying?

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