Changing schools

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  December 23, 2011 06:00 AM

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Dear Barbara,

My 6 year old has the possible opportunity to move from his current school into another school in the community. I wouldn't say this other school is "better," it's just a different teaching style that my husband and I feel might be better for him and his academic success.

Our dilemma is the idea of moving him mid year from a school he loves and has gotten comfortable being a part of, to a "new" school that while good, is just different.
We know he'll make friends eventually. We know he'll adjust, but is this the right thing to do??

I also mourn the thought of leaving his current school and the friendships I've developed over the last 1 1/2 years.

I know only we can make the decision. I know I can get information from both sides of the aisle. I guess we just need to know if moving him mid year is going to be okay for his social development and won't backfire on us in the end.
Thank you-


From: WantingWhatsBest, Merrimac Valley, MA


Dear WantingWhatsBest,

I know you're ambivalent, but, honestly? You've answered your own question. Why leave him in a school where he is likely to struggle if you have the chance to better meet his needs? Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

At this age, the rupture to friendships and routines should be relatively easy to accommodate (compared to higher grades) but that doesn't mean there won't be some adjustment. Take photos of his old classroom, teacher and friends; arrange playdates for after the switch (at the old and new school) and certainly ask the new school for help in his adjustment. Many schools, for instance, assign a buddy to new students. If he's sad about leaving the old school, validate those feelings ("I know, you'll miss your friends.") as opposed to dismissing them ("Don't be silly, you'll make new friends!").

But bottom line? I'd make the change guilt-free.

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2 comments so far...
  1. I'm a teacher. My advice is to wait until September if at all possible. The anxiety of being "the new kid" is likely to overshadow any potential gains this year. He will be coming into established routines and months of academic and social "building blocks" and it is often quite stressful for young kids to be unfamiliar with the lessons, routines, and teaching style when everyone else is going along as usual.

    The exceptions: if the current school is truly not meeting his emotional or academic needs, or if he has a conflict with the teacher that is making him dislike school altogether; then I would move him asap.

    Posted by Dawn December 24, 11 11:21 AM
  1. As a first grade teacher I would say making the change mid year, right after the Christmas break would be a good time. The teacher will be restablishing the daily routine with all the students. On the whole, first graders are very happy to make new friends and help new students adjust to their classroom and school. Best wishes.

    Posted by topaz December 29, 11 07:07 PM
 
2 comments so far...
  1. I'm a teacher. My advice is to wait until September if at all possible. The anxiety of being "the new kid" is likely to overshadow any potential gains this year. He will be coming into established routines and months of academic and social "building blocks" and it is often quite stressful for young kids to be unfamiliar with the lessons, routines, and teaching style when everyone else is going along as usual.

    The exceptions: if the current school is truly not meeting his emotional or academic needs, or if he has a conflict with the teacher that is making him dislike school altogether; then I would move him asap.

    Posted by Dawn December 24, 11 11:21 AM
  1. As a first grade teacher I would say making the change mid year, right after the Christmas break would be a good time. The teacher will be restablishing the daily routine with all the students. On the whole, first graders are very happy to make new friends and help new students adjust to their classroom and school. Best wishes.

    Posted by topaz December 29, 11 07:07 PM
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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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