Created on August 5, 2017. Last updated on February 15th, 2020 at 02:32 pm
Changing schools is a common situation; only 30% of students remain at the same school through fourth grade. Various circumstances can prompt a change in schools such as a caregiver’s new job, military deployment, change in marital status, or need for a better educational setting.
The reason for changing schools may influence how the child responds. For example, moving from elementary to middle school with the rest of one’s classmates may be less stressful than moving to a completely new school in a different area. If there are other, co-occurring stressors, such as divorce, the change may be more difficult. No matter the reason, changing schools is likely to bring a mix of emotions, such as sadness, excitement, and ambivalence. Helping a child to recognize and understand these different emotions, in addition to offering support, can help things go more smoothly.
When a child moves to a new classroom, there may be differences in the curriculum, as well as differences in teaching styles and expectations. Talking with the child’s teacher(s) about their educational history and abilities can help teacher(s) best meet the child’s academic needs.
The need to make new friends can be anxiety-producing. This may be further complicated if the social landscape is different at the new school. There may also be new/different pressures related to social media, school activities, even riding the bus. Asking the child about their interactions can help you support them as they get to know their new peer group.
Changing schools will also bring changes to extracurricular activities, the commute to school, and daily routines. Awareness of the numerous ways youth can be affected by school change will help you be sensitive to their needs.
Although adjusting to a new school can be tough in the short-term, finding the right school will contribute to positive academic and social development, and the process can teach valuable skills for adjusting to new circumstances.
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