Conversational Phrases For Getting To Know New Kids At School
First impressions count - a lot! And first-day nerves can make everything seem harder. For ALL kids starting at a new school, it’s important to seem ‘cool’ and together when making those first attempts to connect with the people you’re about to spend your days with.
Most of the kids will be feeling nervous, and only a few will be good at hiding it. Anything to help get through the first ten minutes, the first hour, the first day will make the following days and weeks much easier. And the quicker you can make a friend or two, the better. Here’s some ideas you might like to try.
Greetings for Kids
At the beginning of the day, or when you see someone for the first time for the day, it is expected that you will make eye contact, and say hello. You may even smile a little, and stop to chat for a while. Try using some of these greetings with your peers:
- What’s up?
- How are you?
Listen to how the other kids greet each other at the beginning of the day, and try to use some of those phrases tomorrow.
Remember to use more formal speech with adults, (such as, ‘Hello Mr Brown’ / ‘Hello Sir’ / ‘Hello Ma’am’) unless you already know them well, and know that they like to use more informal or casual speech.
Getting to Know You
Your teacher might ask you to ‘get to know the kid sitting next to you’ in class, or set you a challenge like, ‘make three new friends this week’. How do you do this?
If you are already sitting or standing next to someone, turn to them, make eye contact, and try asking a question or two from the list below. Standing in the canteen queue, hanging around the lockers, or waiting to enter a room are other good opportunities to smile at the kid standing nearest to you, and try a question or two. For boys, standing at the urinal is NOT the time to start asking questions!
Some Questions to Ask:
- What’s your name?
- Which school did you come from?
- What did you do on your holidays?
- Did you go away?
- Did you see any movies?
- What games do you play?
- What sports do you play?
- Have you been watching the tennis / cricket?
- How old are you?
- What books do you like reading?
- What did you get for Christmas?
- What sport are you doing for school?
- What (school) house are you in?
- What bands or type of music do you like?
Do NOT go through the whole list in one go. Give them time to ask you a question in return. And if the person seems to want to talk about something, try to go with it. Ask them questions about their subject.
Remember to keep the conversation roughly equal. Aim for a dialogue (two sided conversation where you take it in turns to talk), not a monologue (only one person talking).
Keep watching the other kids to see how they greet each other, and how they are behaving. Study them discreetly (don’t get too close, or stare at them constantly). Try to casually imitate some of the behaviour and phrases of people you admire, or those you think are socially successful.
And if you are rebuffed or snubbed, try to not take it personally. You just have to keep trying until you meet the right people for you.
Who’s your Go-To?
Ask your teacher to help you identify the kids in your class who can help you when you are unsure of:
- Where you should be going next
- Where the nearest ‘loo’ is
- What you should be doing right now
- What tonight’s homework is
- Whether someone is being friendly (sarcastic-funny) or unfriendly (sarcastic-mean)
If possible, ask your teacher to identify at least three kids, preferably so there is at least one in each of your classes. You should be able to add to this list as the term progresses, and you get to know the other kids better.
Big Details versus Little Details
Have you ever said, “Hi, how are you?” to someone, and been stuck for half an hour while they listed every little thing wrong with them? If so, you’ve had the ‘little detail’ experience when you weren’t expecting it. If you’re not really interested in the topic, but are just being polite, it can be really annoying if the other person goes into great long-winded detail about it. You might even avoid talking to that person next time you see them, in case you get stuck again.
Try to keep conversations at the ‘big detail’ level, unless the person you are talking to seems to know the subject well, or starts asking ‘little detail’ type questions.
What’s the difference? Say you want to talk about your favourite band. The table below shows the big and little details you could talk about:
The name of the band
The full story of how the band formed, and the name, nationality and age of all band members
Type of music they play
Complete lyrics of three of their songs
Latest album / song / single
Entire history of the band, starting from how their first album was written and recorded, through to the concert dates of their latest world tour
There are many facets to school life – academic, sport, and social are all important. Your teachers will expect you to set academic and possibly sporting goals, in the first few weeks of the year. The social side of school life will be just as important, so you might like to ask your parents to help you set some social goals for the first weeks of the term. Make them small and achievable, so you will be motivated to keep working on this important part of life.
Some examples of social goals:
- I will get to know one new person in my class each day
- I will listen for, and learn, three new greetings this week
- I will try to talk to each kid in my class at least once by the end of week four
Good luck - and remember, every day is a new beginning.