Dear American Girl,

All of my life I have been home-schooled, but recently, my parents decided to send me to a public school. I start after the holidays, and I'm so nervous. Not only am I starting halfway through the year, but I don't know anyone in the whole school. How can I feel better about starting a new chapter in my life?
-Bye-bye, home-school

Here's your advice:

On your first day of school, instead of waiting for other kids to say hi to you, walk up to someone who seems nice and say hi to him or her. That person might be able to help you throughout the day.
-Aviya, age 10, New York

The best piece of advice I can share with you is this: be yourself! Don't try to be someone you're not.
-Shayla, age 12, California

Every person has been afraid of what others think of him or her at one time or another. Doesn't it make you feel better to know that you're not alone? Even the kids that you might think of as "popular" have worried about wearing certain outfits or saying the wrong thing. Try not to be afraid of what people think of you. Chances are, people at your new school will think you're awesome.
-Emily, age 13, Delaware

If you enter the school with the mindset of enjoying it and soaking up the good times, you will have a better experience. Focus on meeting new people and learning new things.
-Julie, age 12, Ohio

During your first day at your new school, be sure to smile and be friendly. Don't overthink things, or else you might not enjoy your day.
-Abby, age 11, Washington

Try this: On one piece of paper, write down the positive things about going to public school. On another piece of paper, write down the cons. Then tear up the cons list and throw it away. Keep the list of positive things in your backpack, and look at it whenever you need a boost.
-Madison, age 12, Indiana

Going to public school is more like home-schooling than you think. You're in a classroom instead of your living room, and there will be some different rules to follow. Meet your teachers and be friendly to your new classmates. Sometimes in life, new things can be good.
-Melanie, age 8, California

I'm home-schooled, and I was nervous when I joined a girls' rugby team. I was worried that they wouldn't like me, but it turned out that I worried for nothing. A girl on the team has become one of my best friends. Join a club or a sport at your new school, and you might become friends with someone who shares your interests.
-Claire, age 12, Virginia

When I switched schools in the middle of the year, I was thrown for a loop. So I asked my new teachers if they could share helpful information and tips for making new friends. One teacher suggested I try out for the school musical, and that's how I ended up making a lot of friends.
-Lucy, age 11, Texas

I was home-schooled, and my parents decided to send me to a public school. I was really scared, but when I walked into the school, I quickly found out that the kids were a lot nicer than I'd imagined. Sure, there are those not-so-nice kids, but I just avoid them and spend time with people who make me feel good.
-Hannah, age 12, Indiana

Going to a new school might be hard at first, but once you make some friends, school will be a lot more fun. In the beginning, when things are tough, remind yourself that eventually everything will turn out OK. It might take some time, so be patient.
-Janet, age 13, California

If you want to feel more confident, learn everything you can about your new school. Your parents might be able to help you find answers to your questions. Shop for school supplies, and take a tour of the school. Ask a parent if you can get a couple of new outfits, too. Think of starting public school as a good opportunity to become braver in your life.
-Macy, age 12, Maryland

I've moved a lot and have had to go to new schools, so I can imagine how you feel. One thing that makes me feel better is imagining that I'm on a new adventure and I'm going to enjoy it. Even though I don't know what lies ahead at the new school, I do my best to keep a positive attitude about it. Instead of thinking negative thoughts, focus on the things that you're excited about.
-Christine, age 11, New Jersey

Past Help from You
School Smarts
Family Matters
The Care and Keeping of Friends
The Care and Keeping of You
I'm Scared
More Advice From You