Changing schools is a big decision, and one that should be carefully considered. Families change schools for a variety of reasons: They might be looking for a different educational environment for their child, or they might have had a shift in their family circumstances, or they just might not be satisfied with their current school. Whatever the reason might be, when it’s time to go, you will know. Here are some important things to consider if you’re thinking about switching schools.
Before Making a Change
If you’re thinking about switching schools because your child doesn’t like the school or is having problems there, try to give the school a chance to address these issues first. Sometimes, meeting with a principal or head of school might open your eyes to options, resources and supportive staff that could help solve the problems you’re having.
It might help to also ask yourself these questions:
- If we switch schools, is my child missing an opportunity to learn how to work through a difficult situation?
- Are there things about our current school that my child likes? Will we be able to find these qualities at our new school?
- Have we sought out all of the resources that are available to us at our current school?
- What kind of commitment or lifestyle change will switching schools require?
- How will this decision affect the rest of our family?
Finding a New School
If you do decide to change schools, then the next step is to find a school that will meet your family’s needs. Here are some things you can do to help with your search for a new school.
Think about what your child needs in a school. Are they academically advanced and need a school that will challenge them, or do they need academic support? Or maybe they’re somewhere in between? It’s also important to consider other factors, like whether your child needs more one-on-one time with a teacher (if so, consider class sizes), or if they need more time to get their wiggles out every day (if so, consider how much play time the school allocates).
Think about your family’s needs. Take into account your family’s budget. What can you afford? How far away is the school, and will it require shuffling around schedules? What kind of time commitment or lifestyle changes will this new school require?
Do your research. There are a plethora of school options available, including public, private, Montessori, Waldorf, co-op, charter, magnet, home school and more. There’s truly a school for every type of learner. Research the different types of schools in your community and get opinions from parents you trust.
Visit the school. If possible, visit the schools you are interested in with your child. Bring a list of questions you might have. Many schools offer tours that will allow you to visit classrooms and get a quick peek at what you might expect during the school day.
When considering a new school, take your child’s opinions into account. After all, they will be the one attending the school! That said, don’t leave the final decision to your child. Ultimately, that decision is up to you, after you’ve carefully weighed the pros and cons of each school you are evaluating.
Making the School Switch a Win-Win
You’ve made your choice and you’re making the big switch. Changing schools can bring up all kinds of emotions from a child, both positive and negative. Here are some tips to make the transition a little easier.
Focus on the positives. Remind your child of all the new experiences they will have and new friends they’ll make.
Talk it out. Keep the lines of communication open in your family. Remind them that change is hard and it’s OK to be sad to leave their old school.
Visit their classroom and meet the teacher. If your school allows it, make an appointment to tour the school and meet the teacher before school starts.
Make new friends, but keep the old. Help your child maintain their friendships from their old school. Arrange playdates for younger kids, and encourage older kids to invite their friends over to hang out, or to text, call or email each other.