Visiting a school, and attending orientation can make the transition to a new school or grade much easier

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Starting kindergarten or middle school can be stressful for incoming students.

Whether they're heading to elementary school or middle school, it's important to make sure kids are familiar with their new surroundings.

A good preschool can help better prepare students entering school for the first time, and lay the groundwork for learning in elementary school and beyond.

"It's crazy that you predict with accuracy the children that show up not ready for kindergarten are usually the same children we see drop out of high school and not go on to finish that secondary education," says Meg Fitzwater with Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke.

Preparing children for that big step into elementary school means getting them as familiar with their new school as possible. The same is true for student heading into middle or high school.

"Children are just like adults, and so the fear of the unknown, the anxiety of not knowing what's going to happen is really what we're trying to avoid," says Fitzwater.

Here are some tips we found that can help with the transition-

*Make sure you and your child visit the new school, and spend time on the play ground.

*Attend orientation and back to school nights.

*Talk about school in a positive way, be optimistic for the new year.

*And check in with your child regularly to see how school is going.

You'll find more helpful information about school transitions on web sites to the right of this story.