On changing schools


Changing schools for your kid should be an easy process. Note the operative word – should. Let me tell you folks, it’s actually, really not. The things you worry the most about, like “oh gosh, what if he/she doesn’t get a place in that school” pale in comparison to the way your kid will suddenly burst into tears on an arbitrary Tuesday and wail “But Mom, I don’t want to leave my friends”, when you’re least expecting it. 

Our reasons for moving schools, homes and lifestyles were many, but initiated by the discussion of adding a pet to our family. At the time, the body corporate rules for our residence didn’t allow any pets other than a hamster (ours died) and fish (ours is now pushing 16 or something. Yes, really) and frankly, you can’t cuddle a goldfish. 

But the notion of uprooting all our routines and possessions was made easier to contemplate, once we’d been to see my kid’s new school. I watched her eyes glint with excitement over the sparkly clean classrooms and listened intently as she excitedly told me about the extra-murals they had on offer. 

That excitement saw us through her last day at her old school, even though her best friend cried. It saw us through a tumultuous house move and a settling in to new routines. In fact, had it not been for a little incident, it may have even seen us right through until the first day of her attending a new school but, we fell short of that by a few days. Yes, there were tears, but I like to think they were good ones. My kid confronted the idea that she would not be sitting next to her BFF on the playground and that a whole new universe of potential playmates was about to be thrust onto her. 
Here’s what I learnt as we underwent changing schools:

Get the administration done early

If you need to change schools for your kid, for whatever reason, do it earlier rather than later. Most schools close their intake processes early in the year so, if you have to make the change, try get the ball rolling as soon as possible. Once you’ve secured a place for your child in their new school, it becomes a lot easier to help your child adjust to the idea that they’re moving on and time is on your side. You’ll need that time, to help your kid get used to the idea of a big change. Don’t forget to pick up a school transfer card on the last day of your kid’s school year at the old school – you’ll need to submit it to the new school. 

Be Prepared for the Outburst

It may not happen immediately and it may not happen for a while but, chances are, your kid’s either distracted by the excitement of a new school, or is keeping their concerns to themselves. They will, undoubtedly erupt, at some point. Be aware that it’s bound to happen, and let it happen. It passes quickly and eventually, I promise. 

Find Your Community

The thing I started hating the most about the idea of changing schools was not the dissolution of a relationship with the old school, but knowing that I suddenly would not have my merry gang of fellow school moms to rely on. In fact, that idea filled me with so much dread, that I almost did a turn-around and demanded we not move. But, slowly, I’m finding my community at the new school, relying on friends-of-friends and being particularly focused on getting involved in school activities, as and when I can.

Explore Before You Start

If it’s possible, arrange to pop in to new school and take a tour with the Principal or a teacher. That way, your kid won’t feel completely lost on their first day, and will feel slightly more confident about their surroundings.

Love Note The Lunchbox

I am a big, BIG believer in leaving surprise notes in my kid’slunchbox, especially on an important day, or when I know she is facing a test or challenge. I made sure that, for the first day, there was a very special love note in her lunchbox, hidden under a sneaky but healthy treat. Just a little reminder like that can help your kid get through the first day. 

Do you have any tips for kids changing schools?

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