7 Ways to Make Changing Schools Mid-Year a Positive Experience
While many parents try to avoid it, changing schools mid-year is often necessary. But, it does present a tough situation for students. Having to be the “new kid” amid a classroom of strangers, trying to navigate a new building, catching up on lessons, and making new friends can all be stressful.
But changing schools mid-year doesn’t have to be a negative experience for kids. They may even find they are happier in their new school environment. All it takes is a little preparation and thought.
Here are 7 ways to make changing schools mid-year less problematic:
Visit the School First
Fear of the unknown can be powerful. If possible, take your child to see the school before he begins attending classes by arranging a private tour. That way he will have a sense of what he will be walking into on his first day of class. Knowing in advance where the cafeteria, library, classroom, and lockers are located will go a long way to ease that first-day anxiety. If your child is very young, you may want to take him to visit his class for just a short time while you stay with him. Then, when he attends on his own, the experience will seem less daunting. Also, try to schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher in advance and ensure that a desk and any needed supplies have been set up for your child before the first day. This is also a good time to ask about any paperwork on policies or homework guidelines that the teacher may have distributed to the students back in September.
Identify the Immediate Benefits
No matter how much your child loved his previous school, there are always some things that could be better. Talk to your student about the benefits of leaving his current school. Maybe the coursework isn’t at the right level or the teacher doesn’t spend enough time explaining the homework. Perhaps your child has been labeled by the other kids and he can’t break out of that mold. A new school represents a new start when those negatives may no longer be a problem. It’s easy for kids to only focus on the apparent negatives of a situation and forget there can be benefits as well.
Find out what groups and organizations exist in your new neighborhood and at your child’s school. Connect with the school’s local PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and introduce yourself. Such organizations have terrific resources and can alert you to the issues and events happening at the school. If you have time to join, you may meet other members who have children in your child’s class, which may help them make friends sooner. Also, be sure to check the relevant websites for your school, school district, and community association. Through these sites, you’ll find announcements for meetings and events as well as summaries of previous meetings and policy changes. That will help you and your student be more prepared for what’s ahead at the new school.
Schedule Follow-Up Meetings
After your student has been attending the new school for a few weeks or months, schedule a meeting with his teachers and/or school officials. Kids don’t always share the events of their day, so you’ll want to make sure they are assimilating well in their new environment. If the teacher identifies any issues, it’s best to address them as soon as possible so they don’t become bigger problems in the future. Also check with your student on homework assignments more regularly to ensure classes are going well.
Look for Extracurricular Activities
Joining clubs and outside programs is a great way for new students to quickly make friends and feel accepted by their new school. Choosing an extracurricular activity also gives students the opportunity to learn new skills and it is helpful for college applications. Even local clubs outside of the school, such as those found at the local parks and recreation and the YMCA, can be a place to make new friends.
Make sure you have all your student’s records on hand prior to enrolling in a new school. You’ll need to complete application forms and will want to have transcripts, birth certificates, immunization records, and any other pertinent medical information available. And, as you provide the important paperwork for your student’s new school, be sure that the school is adding your contact info to all their distribution channels.
Consider an Alternative School Choice
If your child needs to change schools, take the opportunity to consider all your school choices. Choosing an online school is an excellent alternative for a student having to start school in the middle of the year. They can avoid the awkwardness of being the new kid and not knowing the other students. The individualized lessons may also make it easier to catch up with the new courses as students are encouraged to set their own pace for learning. Online education boasts strong satisfaction ratings, and a variety of students excel in this type of learning environment.
A private school is another option that may suit your student’s needs. K12 International Academy, an accredited, online private school for grades K–12, offers students a high-quality education with the flexibility to meet their individual needs. K12 International Academy also offers an individualized learning plan and a support team of teachers and counselors, which is especially helpful for new enrollees. Students also have a number of options, including beginning where they left off at their previous school or starting the curriculum at day one.
Whether you choose a private or public school option, your student might benefit from switching to an online learning environment. Visit K12 to learn more about the online public schools available in your area. Online public schools offer an individualized learning plan for each student with state certified teachers. And as a public-school option these schools are tuition-free (however household and office supplies like printer ink and paper are not provided). Find out what a day in the life of an online learner is like to learn if an online school might be right for your student.
Elizabeth Street is a writer and managing editor for Learning Liftoff. For the past 20 years, she has written newsletter and website content for nonprofit and corporate organizations on such topics as the plight of children of prisoners worldwide, the lack of prenatal care for mothers in developing countries, and child mentoring programs. She has a particular interest in the importance of providing all children with a quality education regardless of their family’s financial status or background. A native of Virginia, Elizabeth is a graduate of James Madison University and loves animals, with particular fondness for her two cats, Oscar and Emmy.