You have made the decision to put your child in private school.
Making the transition from one school to another is often challenging, but the transition from public to private school can sometimes add another layer of change.
Often, kids who make the switch will have to figure out a new commute to school, make new friends, adjust to different teachers and establish a new routine. When adjusting to private school, however, other things might change as well. Students might also have a uniform for the first time, the curriculum may be more rigorous, and the academic culture might not be what they are used to.
In time, things will get easier and kids adjust well. If you want to ensure a smooth transition, here are a few tips to make the process easier.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “Tremendous Opportunity for Success”[/pullquote]
The commute. Your child will likely have attended a public school that was in close proximity to your home. You may even have been able to walk to school. But choosing a private school can sometimes mean a new or further commute. Plan your route in advance. Will you be driving your child or will your child be taking public transportation. Make sure you know how long it will take to get to and from school during rush hour so you allot enough time to get there safely on time. If your child will be taking a bus or train, practice the route in advance so your child can confidently make their way to school. Do you have a safety plan in place so your child can reach you if they get lost or if you’re late. Do they have a key to the house in case they now arrive home before you? Do they have enough snacks in their bag in case their commute is longer and they get home later than they used to? This is a great time to think about the commute and put plans in place as you begin a new school.
Uniforms. Your child might be required to wear a uniform for the first time. Have a positive attitude and discuss the benefits with your child if your child is anxious about the change. A uniform means that they don’t have to labour over what to wear in the morning. Students will be judged by their peers by their ideas, not their shoes. It makes getting ready in the morning faster and easier. Take your child for a fitting and make sure their uniforms fit well. Stock up on essentials so your child has enough clothing to last the next several months. Then on the first day, they will look around and realize they fit right in.
Academic culture. There is a difference between the culture at private and public schools. This can vary between private schools too, but either way, your child is likely to notice a difference. Things like teacher expectations, smaller class sizes, more rigorous curriculum, greater choice of extra-curricular activities and new travel opportunities can feel overwhelming. Go online and read about your new school in advance so you know what to expect. There may be online content describing what your child is likely to experience at their new school. Talk to other students who attend the school. Be prepared with a list of questions. Is your child curious about how students interact with their teachers when the classes are smaller? Are they worried about whether they might be behind in a certain subject? Do you meed to provide a tutor for your child. Speak to the principal about what supports might be in place to help your child if they need it. Chances are, your new school is more than prepared with answers to any questions you may have.
Mentor opportunities. Don’t be afraid to ask for a mentor if one hasn’t been assigned. Often, private schools have a plan in place to help welcome new students into the fold. They might have networking opportunities for parents to get to know one another in advance. Teachers might plan class trips early in the year to help students get to know one another. Some schools might even assign peer-to-peer mentors to new students. This is a great opportunity to be guided by someone who has experience at the school and can teach your child the ins and outs of being a student in this new environment.
Personal attention: Smaller class sizes with well qualified and accessible teachers provide unique care for each student in private schools. Individual learning plans are the norm. This supportive environment means students receive tremendous opportunities for success in high school. And there is a wide array of resources and guidance available to help students prepare for university or college.
Starting anything new can be stressful, but it is also an exciting opportunity for your child to spread their wings, grow and develop into mature, responsible, successful adults. If you’re prepared in advance, the transition is sure to be a smooth one for your child.