If you’re planning to change school for your child, you’re likely having lots of questions in your mind. You’re thinking about the academics and classes offered by the new school, whether the school has sports, clubs, extracurriculars, student-to-teacher ratio, AP classes, college acceptance rates, etc.
But are you thinking about timing? There are certain ages and times of the year during your child’s academic career where switching schools will be easier for your child, socially and academically. This article discuses the best times (age/stage) to change schools for your child.
Best Age To Change Schools
At The The Start Of The New School Year
Regardless of your child’s age, changing schools at the start of the new school year is better than in the middle. Changing schools in the middle of the school year can be challenging for your child. There are various reasons why that’s so, they include:
- Disruption to your child’s studies – switching schools midyear might disrupt your child’s studies, especially if the new school and the current one are not progressing through the material at the same time. Take the example below:
The public school curriculum is designed in a way that each school is progressing through the material at the same time (theoretically). This means if a student is transferred from one school to another, they should be able to pick up where they left off at their old school (theoretically).
However, the reality is usually very different from the theory. Individual classes and students as a whole naturally learn at various rates, affecting how quickly several schools move through the material.
If your child’s new school has progressed through material faster than their old school, they risk moving into the new school behind their classmates, leading to difficulties and confusion. Similarly, if the new school has progressed more slowly than the previous school, your kid risks moving into the school ahead of their classmates, which can cause boredom and disengagement if not handled properly.
But if you time the changing school to be at the start of the academic year, your child enters school on an equal footing with their peers.
- Easier for your child to adapt and make friends – changing schools at the beginning of the school year can also ease your child to adapt socially. That’s because friendships and relationships with peers are often cemented in the first few months of a new school year. And the closer to the start of the school year you can time the changing schools, the easier it will be for your child to form relationships and friendships with their peers.
During Natural Transition Periods
A child’s educational journey is divided into three phases, elementary, middle, and high school. Parents often time changing schools or major decisions regarding their child’s academic so that the kid remains at a single school for the entirety of a phase. E.g., the elementary school then transferring to a new school at the beginning of the next phase, middle school.
It’s fairly common for students to change schools during these times, between elementary and middle school, or middle and high school. By timing your child’s school switch to coincide with these periods, you can ease the stress of being the “new kid”. When everyone is new, being new wouldn’t be a big deal, right?
When Should You Consider Changing School For Your Child
Change In Family Circumstances
If your family moves to a new area, changing schools becomes unavoidable. Similarly, if your child was attending a private school, and you lose your job or incur financial hardship, switching to a public school is necessary.
Your Kid Is Unhappy
It’s crucial to find out the reasons behind your child’s unhappiness. Many kids refuse to go to school sometimes or claim to hate school. That may be due to difficulty making friends or that they feel like they don’t fit in socially.
However, if your child has never had anything good to say at the end of the day, their mood has dramatically changed, or they pretend to be sick every day, there might be something bigger going on.
They’re Not Progressing
Whether your child is not challenged, they’re struggling, or not making progress, that’s a cause for concern. Your child’s middle or high school should help them learn, grow, and develop in many ways, socially, academically, and emotionally. If that’s not the case, or they are regressing, find out why.
Your kid’s safety should be of utmost importance. If they don’t feel safe due to bullying, location, or questionable peer groups, changing schools may be warranted.
What To Consider When Changing Schools
There are some crucial factors to consider when looking for new schools and preparing for a transition. They include:
- Their feelings – how does your kid feel about switching schools? If the transitioning to a new school is unwanted but unavoidable, you may have to help them feel positive about the whole experience.
- Their relationships – your child’s relationships and friendships matter. Here, you’ll have to plan how you’re going to support your child make new friends at school and/or maintain existing friendships.
- Quality of education offered – what is the school’s approach to academics? Does the school have professional development and training to support and empower your child to be effective?
- Class size – establishing the class size is crucial in letting you know the student-to-teacher ratio. What’s the maximum number of students in a classroom? Are there sufficient staff members to give your child individualized attention?
- Availability of sports, arts, and other extracurricular activities – the school needs to have arts education like visual and performing arts, athletics, etc, which help students enormously. These activities teach students to see the world in new ways, develop communication and teamwork, and build strong and healthy bodies.
What’s the best age to change schools? Although there’s no definite answer to that question, there are times when it’s better and easier for your child to adapt to new schools than others.
Changing school at the start of a new school year ensures your kid starts at the same time as their peers, and no one is ahead or behind. It’s also better to change school when your child is done with one phase and ready to enter another. Like from elementary to middle, or middle to high school.