Should Your Child Switch Schools? How to Decide

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Changing schools is a big decision and not one to take lightly — especially if the switch is happening mid-year.

That said, there are some circumstances where a change is warranted, or even necessary. Whether you’re considering a switch due to a change in family circumstances or because you’re dissatisfied with your child’s current school, here are some tips to help you make your decision.

Is switching schools the right decision?

Research shows moving schools can affect a child’s development, both for better and worse. Some studies on student mobility have shown that changing schools frequently can negatively impact students’ self-perception and grades.

Depending on your student’s and family’s situation, the positives of transferring to a new school will outweigh any drawbacks.

Some downsides of switching schools may include:

  • • It can be disruptive to the class, as well as your child’s and family’s routine.
  • • Changing schools often makes it challenging to build relationships with the school community, including teachers, administrators, and peers.
  • • It can be tough for your child to find his or her place in a new social circle.
  • • Curriculum varies from school to school and different classes move at different paces. It can take some time to get up to speed academically at a new school.

These downsides, and others, are why many experts recommend limiting switches between elementary, middle, and high school if it can be avoided. Vector Prep & Arts minimizes these transitions by serving students in grades K-6, while our partner school, AZ Compass Prep, serves students in grades 7-12.

Because we share a campus with AZ Compass Prep, students benefit from a stable school community and a smooth transition between 6th and 7th grade, and beyond.

When should your child switch schools?

Your family circumstances have changed

If your family has moved to a new location, switching to a new school may be unavoidable. Likewise, if your child was enrolled in private school, a job loss or financial hardship might mean a change to public school is necessary. The good news is there are outstanding tuition-free public school options available to your family.

Your child is unhappy

If your child is unhappy, it’s important to find out why. Lots of kids will fight going to school sometimes, or claim to “hate school.” Other kids may cry or just take longer to warm up to school, especially if it’s a new experience.

But if they never have anything good to say at the end of the day, if they pretend to be sick every day, or if their mood has dramatically shifted — then it might be a sign that something bigger is going on.

Your child isn’t progressing

Whether they’re not challenged, or they’re struggling, if your child isn’t progressing, that’s cause for concern. Your child’s school should be helping them learn, grow, and develop in lots of ways — academically, socially, emotionally. If that’s not happening, or if they’re regressing in some way, it’s time to look at why.

Safety concerns

Your child’s safety is of the utmost importance. If they aren’t safe due to the location of the school, bullying, or questionable peer groups, a switch may be warranted.

Their needs are not addressed

There are a variety of needs your child might have that are not being addressed by a school. Some of these may include:

  • • Not challenged / too easy
  • • Struggling academically
  • • No creative outlets
  • • No sports / extracurricular activities
  • • Unsupported learning disabilities or special needs
  • • Social problems or doesn’t fit in

One of these issues doesn’t necessarily mean a change is needed. There may be other options, such as switching classes, participating in extracurricular activities or sports outside of school, switching to a gifted program, or determining if they would benefit from an IEP.

What to consider when switching schools

There are some important factors to consider when researching new schools and preparing for a transition. These include:

Your child’s feelings – How do they feel about switching schools? If the transition to a new school is unwanted (but unavoidable) how can you help make it a positive experience?

Your child’s relationships – How will you support them in making new friends at school and/or maintaining existing friendships?

The quality of education your child will receive – What is the school’s approach to academics? How do they help prepare students to be college and career-ready?

The quality of teachers – How does the school support their teachers? Is professional development and training available to support and empower them to be effective?

Class size – What is the maximum number of students in a classroom? Are there enough staff members available to give your child individualized attention?

Availability of sports, arts and other extracurricular activities – Students benefit enormously from arts education, including visual and performing arts, as well as athletics. These activities teach students to see the world in new ways, develop teamwork and communication skills, and build strong and healthy bodies.

Ready to take the next step? Contact us to see what Vector Prep is all about!

How to make a mid-year switch positive

Start a conversation

Discuss the move as a family and talk to your child about how they feel about the transition. Keep the lines of communication open throughout — as you visit schools and and as they settle in at the new one.

Keep it positive

Focus on all the new experiences your child will have and new friends they’ll make. This is important whether the switch is happening due to a negative experience at your child’s previous school, or for other reasons.

If your child isn’t happy about the switch, talk to them about how it’s OK to be sad about leaving the old school (change is hard!) but it can also be exciting to start something new!

Schedule a visit

Make a plan to visit the new school for a tour. Meet the administrators and new teacher if possible and let your child ask any questions they have about the new school.

Maintain existing relationships with friends

Help your child maintain existing friendships from their old school. Arrange times to get together, and encourage them to text, call or email each other — especially if distance is a factor.

Pick an activity

Choosing a sport to play, or picking a music, dance, art, or theatre class is a great way to learn a new skill and make friends at the new school.

At Vector Prep, arts and athletics are incorporated into each and every school day. Students can participate in flag football (grades 5-6), girls volleyball, football, basketball, soccer, and baseball.

Get involved

Get involved in the school community by attending a game, performance or other event. Our partner school AZ Compass‘ athletic program is among the best in the state — it’s always fun to root on our Dragons and Dragonflies!

We’re also big believers in parent participation and we encourage parents to attend our Parent Action Team meetings.

Final thoughts

We know there’s a lot to think about when you’re considering a change of schools. As you consider your options, we want you to know that we’re here to help.

Contact us to learn more about our school community or schedule a time to visit. We’d be happy to answer all your questions and share information about how our programs can support your child’s character development as well as academic, arts, and athletic goals.

If you’re ready to enroll, start your application here. It’s not too late to join us for the 2019-2020 school year!

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