One of the greatest challenges facing families today regarding school choice is when they realize that their school is not the right fit for their child, especially if they have been there many years! When these families have been fortunate enough to be a part of a terrific school community and their child has made friends, yet they are not successful academically it can be a real eye-opener all around. This is a growing trend we are seeing more and more.
Sometimes, even when parents are cognizant of looking at their family values and who their children are, it can be almost impossible to predict where a child entering kindergarten will be as they grow and mature. As the work in school becomes more challenging, less concrete and more conceptual this can present a challenge to many children. A school with a definite structure may not be the best fit for a more artistic child. In the same way, a school without structure would also not be the best fit for a child that thrives in that type of environment.
This is one of the primary reasons that we steer our clients who are applying to Kindergarten away from only K-12 schools. The ones who protest that they solely want to do this admissions process once, we understand, but that is not always realistic. It can become especially hard when there is a sibling or two involved that has been extremely successful in a certain school setting, while the other sibling is struggling. We find that some settings, while they worked in the early years, are just not the ones that are going to bring certain children to success!
The key pointer is to pay attention, not be in denial and switch your child's school after it's too late!
Once your child is struggling, their self-esteem has taken a hit, and they are frustrated it is time to take action! Children will get into a vicious cycle of not doing well... feeling bad about themselves... not doing well... feeling bad about themselves... etc!
It is especially important to realize this sooner rather than later when you have an older child in the school and you know what the younger one can expect. Here are some questions to ask when faced with the possibility that your child needs a different type of school:
Is this really going to be the right environment?
Is this school just too academic and my child is more focused in the arts?
Is this school too unstructured and my child needs clear cut rules and expectations?
The worst and the most frustrating thing to do is to wait too long to make the move for your child. Children take their cues from their parents and if presented in a positive way, while difficult, the transition will be easier. Some children might feel a sense of relief as they know they are doing poorly or just not happy in their current school and will feel grateful that their parents are noticing this as well!
Based on our many years of education experience on both sides while in admissions and working with private clients, the best piece of advice we have for parents is if you feel your child is struggling in their current school, then its time for a talk with them!
Ask them questions:
What do you find challenging about school?
What would make things feel better for you?
What can you imagine that would make you feel really good about going to school each day?
Make sure your child knows that every school is not for every child and that kids switch schools all the time!
Parents who are in different schools already are a great resource to garner information on different types of environments for your child. Educational Consultants are another great resource to help you figure out the best fit for your child and family. Bottom line is you need someone who can really talk to you about your child's struggles and explain what would be the right environment for them.
And, of course, ALWAYS reach out to your current school to get their understanding of your child and what they feel would be the best move! When all working together, this leads to a happy, confident kid and parents who are at ease!