Switching Schools

Deciding things for our kids without their consent is called parenting. As parents, the decision to shifting our child’s school can be one of the toughest challenges that we face in life. Often times, changing schools can disrupt so many areas of children’s little lives that they might feel as if they are being held back. Not only does the child find the situation difficult, but it can be traumatic for the parents as well. What kind of situations lead the parents to land the decision of making their child switch schools? And, how do parents know that it is the right time to make the shift?

Local mom, Kimberley Dawsey, understands the struggle and the triumph well. When Amber was born 12 years ago, Kimberley wanted her daughter to go to her alma mater and graduate as a “lifer” from the same institution. As decided, Amber was enrolled there in kindergarten and the Dawseys were extremely happy to see their daughter progress. Being run by amazing people who were once Kimberley’s teachers made the couple feel all the more comfortable and happy about where the school was heading with their leadership.

A few years down the lane, when Amber was in fourth grade, all the teachers and staff members whom the Dawseys had come to love were being replaced by new staff. Eventually, the school changed ownership, and issues began popping up. “We stayed, again more for my sentimentality than for anything else,” confesses Kimberley. “We gave them a good shot for two years to show us what they could do for my child, and in my opinion, they failed. From a lack of strong leadership and disorganization to an over chaotic feel and lack of communication with parents, and almost no ‘fun’ aspect to the school, by the end of the sixth-grade year, I knew we had to find Amber a new school.”

What Are The Reasons To Switch Your Child’s School?
According to Donna Fargason, child psychiatrist, here are some reasons parents encounter which often leads them to making the hard decision of switching their child’s school.

When Is It The Right Time To Make The Switch?
There are several factors that contribute to knowing the right time to switch your child’s school. As parents, practical decisions are to be made after assessing a combination of factors pertaining to your children like financial climate, emotional stress, social issues, and academic excellence.

“As far as financial issues are considered, decisions can be made quicker than when the issues are emotional, social, or academic,” says Donna Fargason.

Academic issues can be handled with a change that can wait until the start of a new year as it allows for a smoother transition. On the other hand, emotional and social issues that happen in between a school year can cause absolute disruption. Thus, it is important to weigh the difficulties of transferring mid-year against the emotional and social stress that your child experiences.

Children aren’t equipped with coping skills as grown-ups are. Thus, they often find it difficult to express what they are experiencing. Though this varies from child to child, parents could look for a shift in their child’s typical functioning. It can be upsetting to find your child acting in an atypical way, but as parents, we should try relating these changes to something going on at school. However, the shift in functioning is not always related to school and can indicate underlying issues.

Nevertheless, if it really is a school ‘fit’ problem, parents should consult with the school to see if there are any stones left unturned. When all potential avenues have been explored and the child continues to experience extreme dysfunction, commencing the process of finding a new school would be the next possible option. Seek help during this phase while making the decision.

Finding The Perfect School To Make The Switch
Switching her child’s school has been a nightmare for both Kimberley and her husband. Dinner tables were always filled with conversations about the negatives of the current school. “Finally when the decision was made, and the new school found, it was as if a weight had been lifted off our shoulders,” says Kimberley.

Both Donna Fargason and Kimberley Dawsey suggest that a new school should be chosen only after visiting several schools and talking with professionals in the area who know about the school’s personality and specialities. Once the appropriate school is selected, parents should ask the administration to also provide your child with a ‘buddy’ for the first few days in order to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Kimberley finds that her daughter’s new school is a well-oiled machine where her daughter is thriving like never before. According to Kimberley, a few things that make the school special are: the feeling of community; handwritten and emailed words of encouragement from teachers are often sent; the school spirit; and children receiving an excellent Christian education that surpasses expectations.

“Listen to your gut instinct then go where your heart guides you,” advises Kimberley. “Following my heart lead me to waste three years of my daughter’s school career. If I had listened to my head and switched my daughter’s school when I had the first inclination, she would have been a lot more educationally advanced and would have been in a stable environment sooner.”

Switching schools is never an easy decision to make. The rule of thumb is to get involved without being too pushy. Facilitating your child’s needs and ensuring your child’s stability is paramount to parents. There is never a right or wrong decision, and many factors have to be weighed. However, once everything starts falling back into place, both the parents as well as the child could enjoy a more peaceful school experience, and your child will begin to thrive. ■

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