Whoever said Change is good probably never had to convince a kid to change schools, If he had to I am sure he would have run in the opposite direction shouting, let’s not change anything ever.
Kids don’t appreciate changes a lot, I know most adults don’t either but it is especially hard on the kids. Sometimes the change is inevitable due to a variety of reasons, you may be looking for a better school or shifting cities. Kids of different age react differently to the situation.
It is a challenge convincing my six year old daughter to change the TV channel so imagine my pain when she had to change schools. It was painful for her but way too painful for me. A seemingly never ending string of questions, imaginary situations, the dreadful ‘what ifs’. I am glad it’s over.
Moving schools can be an upsetting thing for kids as they don’t want to give up their best buddies, their favorite teachers and the calm assurance of a familiar atmosphere where they belong.
I remember when we first broke the news to my daughter about switching school she refused outrightly that she didn’t want to go. It took a lot of time for us to finally convince her. To be frank she handled it way better than I did when I was a kid! I am glad I didn’t transfer the difficult child genes to her!
There are a few things on the emotional aspect every parent should try to remember when switching school to make the whole process a little less painful.
1. Involvement in decision making
It is always better to involve the child in picking the school. While it may not be possible at times because as parents we tend to make these decisions ourselves but it will make the child feel in control if they play a part in the picking the school up. And of course, later on when they complain about the school you can always say that it was their decision too
Even if they were part of the decision making, chances are they will still not want to change the school. While they are averse to change, changing mind is something they excel at!
Quite frankly there is no alternative to talk. Spend hours, if need be, to convince them why the change is good for them. If you are switching because you don’t like the school be upfront about it. Tell them the reason how and why the new school would be a great experience for them. It won’t be easy and it will definitely test your patience but as I said there is simply no alternative to talk.
3. Sooth Anxiety
If I had to rank fears of the child the foremost would be losing their friends. It is never easy to part with friends, kids nurture very special bond with their friends. It is whole other matter that the moment new friends come in life the old ones are carelessly tucked away. But it sure is a huge emotional issue for them to leave their friends behind. Encourage your child to find ways to stay in touch with their friends. I told my daughter that she would be making a ton of new friends in the new school, although she persisted that her current friends were perfectly great and she didn’t need new ones we gently nudged the idea and she came around eventually.
4. Familiarize with the new school
If possible visit the new school. Kids get the feel of the new environment. Reality of something is much less intimidating than the idea of it. Help them to visualize what it will be like. Show them their new class so they know what it would be like on their first day. It’s the uncertainty and the fear of the unknown that really drives most anxiety issues. This would be a great way to let them form a connection with the new atmosphere.
5. Connect with teacher of prospective school
Talk to the teacher and let them know if your child has any special needs or any behavioral issues. You can have your child meet with the new teacher, they become more open to the idea of new school if they take a liking to the teacher, keep your fingers crossed that they do!
It will not only help your child but also put your fears to rest, not that anyone cares that you are also anxious about the whole thing!
6. Expect Backlash
‘Mom, why did you do this to me. You have ruined my life, I want to go back to my previous school.’ I went like this after every change of school. I had my share of different schools and I never made it easy on my parents! Sorry Mom!
Be prepared for backlashes, in fact expect them for months. It always helps if you resign yourself to the fact that the kids are going to complain for as long as it takes for the world to end. Try to be calm, easier said than done, and work out any issues they are having with the school.
7. Stay positive
You will need to stay positive. You can’t be showing you are anxious and giving a lecture to your child how anxiety never does any good! Positive vibes and encouraging words will go a long way in smoothing the whole process of shifting school. Pay extra attention to their needs in the initial few months till you feel they have settled in.
To conclude, it is more often the parents who are more anxious than kids! Kids are very resilient and quick to make friends. Just give them time and be their punching bag for a while and things will be great till it is time for the next change!
Please share with your thoughts about changing schools and the issues you faced, I would love to hear your stories.