Are you moving to a new neighborhood with a new school district? Are you finding that your child's current school is not providing the quality of education you desire? Is your child having issues at their current school outside of academia? If you said yes to any of these questions, you are likely in the early stages of considering a change of schools for your child. There are many reasons for needing to change schools, and several factors to weigh in before deciding which school is right for your child. Here are some things to look for when considering a prospective school.
1. Your Child's Feelings
Ultimately, whether or not your child changes schools is up you. Parents are, of course, the ones who will be paying for the new school's tuition, who will be driving the child to and from the new school, and who will be involved in the new school's community both relationally and financially. With these factors in mind, it might seem irrelevant to take your child's feelings about the change into account, but it is very important. While you will be taking responsibility for the change of schools, your child will be living through it. The older your child is the harder it might be to move, especially if they have strong ties at their current school. On the other hand, a student who says they want to leave is communicating that they do not believe they can be successful remaining where they are, or in cases of bullying, that they would be safe. Of course, your child cannot make the final decision, but listening to their opinion and their perspective of whether or not the current placement can be salvaged speaks volumes.
The best way to take your child's feelings into account is to ask them whether they like their current school, if they think they are getting a good education, and do they feel safe at school. A dialogue is a good starting point.
2. Your Child's Social Life and Relationships at Their Current School
Your child's social life and relationships deserve special attention because they can heavily influence a move between schools. Be aware that a child who likes to hang out solo or who is not the most sociable might not necessarily be alone or "rejected" in school, but a child who is having issues with their friends or lack thereof could be another story entirely. If your child seems unable to make friends or relate to other children, they could be labeled an outcast or even the victim of bullying.
There are varying degrees of bullying and children can often experience social hierarchies in school. This becomes more apparent the older they get and cliques peak in middle school and endure throughout high school. Some children are victims of bullying in-person or online, while others experience a subtle, passive-aggressive bullying that is just as devastating but harder to identify.
It is important to note that a child who isn't very social at school is not a reason in and of itself to change schools, but it can be a weighty contributing factor. Some children may not talk about being bullied or feeling isolated, which is why it is important to inquire about their friends and relationships. Ask them who they hang out with at lunch, how they spend recess or break, or who they like to chat with during free time in class. If you find that your child is lonely, not just alone, or that they are being ostracized, it could be best to change schools.
If your child is being bullied at their current school, be sure to take this up with the administration before making plans to move on. Simply removing your child from the situation means that the issue is not dealt with and could happen again to another child. There are many new laws in place to condemn all sorts of bullying, which means there may be resolutions. Read your state bullying laws and policies.
3. Quality Education
Some schools have a much more rigorous academic curriculum than others, and this may be more in line with the type of education you want your child to have, or your child may be experiencing a tremendous amount of stress that is related to their current workload and the competitiveness of their peer group. Some questions you should be asking both your prospective new school's administration and teachers are:
- Does the school push my child to ask questions, seek answers, and excel?
- Is there an option for college prep?
- Are there varied learning experiences including the sciences, arts, and the humanities?
- How is progress monitored and encouraged?
- What do school expectations look like and how are they articulated to students?
- How is discipline handled?
Each of these questions is directly linked to creating an environment where quality education is cultivated. Learn about new education standards throughout the United States for even more criteria to take into account.
Beyond academics, many schools offer specialized arts, STEM, and athletic programs as well as diverse extra-curricular offerings that may serve as a hook to engage students and draw like-minded peers together. Consider the full curricular offerings at the school to determine what matches your child's interests and abilities.
4. Quality Educators
"Quality Educators" is a blanket term that encompasses a number of factors most parents want in a teacher. Of course, you want teachers who are qualified to prepare your child to move on to the next grade, but there's more to consider as well. They ought to be properly trained, educated, certified, and experienced in their subject matter, but they should also be accessible to both students and parents when either or both are in need.
A quality educator is someone who is welcoming and communicative with their students and students' parents. They allow a parental presence during events, some decisions, and even some activities. They are ready and willing to engage and help a child who may have different learning needs as well as accessible for conferences and meetings for a parent's concerns or questions. They are patient as well as creative in how they teach, ensuring that all students learn rather than just those students who respond to a mainstream teaching style.
In short, you want someone who is as invested in your child's educational success as you are. Setting up a meeting with a teacher and the administration is a great first step in seeing if your prospective new school employs the quality educators you're looking for.
5. Class Size
Finally, parents should consider class size when thinking about a change of school for their child. When classes are large (20+ students), it is easier for a struggling child to be left behind. If the majority of the group understands a new concept, the teacher is less likely to spend any extra time on the one or two students who need some extra help. Smaller class sizes are usually more attractive to parents because they offer more focused attention and feedback for their child. What's more, the child has a better chance of one-on-one learning with their teacher so that they receive the extra attention they need. Smaller class sizes come with many other benefits as well, including closer friendships, deeper class discussions, and a richer learning experience overall.
Making the Move: First Steps
As you consider a change of schools for your child, there is a lot to think about. To help you make your first move, Brightmont Academy encourages parents searching for a new school experience for their child to get in touch. Contact us for more information, and consider scheduling a visit to one of our campuses as well. We want your child to find a perfect fit in both quality of education and quality of school life as much as you do.