The middle school years are important, formative years that can have profound impact on your child's future. It makes sense, then, that sometimes parents realize that it’s in the best interest of their child to switch schools—even when their child is reluctant.
Whether this is because of academics (dissatisfaction with teachers, facilities, or high student-to-teacher ratio) or social concerns, you know that switching schools will have a positive impact on your child's development. But the question then becomes, "How can I get my child on board and excited about the transition?"
Ready to take the next step? Come visit Friends' Central to see what we're all about!
Getting your child excited about switching middle schools may not be an easy feat, but there are certain steps you can take to help them understand how the change is going to benefit them. And, that understanding is going to have a big impact on how your child views their new school.
To help make the transition easier, here are four tactics you can use to get your child excited about switching to a new middle school.
1. Highlight the exciting opportunities available at a new school
The best way to get your child excited about switching to a new school is to talk about all of the exciting opportunities that are available at your child’s new school. Depending on your child, you can approach this in a number of ways:
Academic opportunities: Some children just love learning. If your child falls into this category, explain to them how their new school compares to their old school in terms of academics.
Even those who are reluctant learners are likely to have a favorite subject where they really excel, and you can use that knowledge to your advantage as well. If your child is a budding scientist, talk up the school’s science lab. If they’re interested in technology, give them a taste of the new technology and computers that will be incorporated in their studies. And don’t forget about special classes like Art and World Languages, which can often stir a child’s passions and help get them excited about school.
Extracurricular opportunities: You'll also want to highlight all of the new extracurricular activities that will be available to your child, especially those not offered by their current school.
In addition to helping your child broaden their view of the world and deepen their education, extracurriculars also present lots of opportunities for new social interactions which can help make the transition to a new school easier. If your target school specializes in certain types of clubs or activities, really focus on how much fun those programs can be. The opportunity to join a musical group, participate in a school play, or develop a different kind of artistic skill or talent can go far in helping your child get excited about their new school.
And don’t forget about the sports! Many middle schools lack quality athletic programs, but their new school may open the door to physical activities they love, like swimming, baseball, soccer, or any other sport they enjoy. If your child is a sports lover, helping them understand the great new options that their new school offers can help them see the benefits of changing schools that otherwise may have eluded them.
2. Discuss the potential for new friends
Convincing your child that a new school presents great opportunities for forming new friendships when they believe they feel like they are abandoning their old ones can be challenging. That's why it's important to emphasize that your child will be able to maintain their old friendships while forming new relationships.
Let them know that you'll do everything you can to help them keep in touch with their existing friends, whether it's through technology, regular visits, or special occasions, etc. That in and of itself will help to quell much of the anxiety that your child is bound to have—and it’s an important lesson for them to learn!
While it's good to reassure your child that they can preserve their existing friendships, it is also important to explain how rewarding expanding their social circle can be. New friends will introduce them to new ideas and engage them with new activities. And while it's normal to be a bit shy and nervous at first at a new school, learning to cope with this discomfort is a great opportunity for growth.
3. Visit the new school with your child before the switch
Going to a new school for the first time can be intimidating, but with the right preparation it is possible to reduce these negative feelings. One of the most important things to help your child ease into their new school? Visiting the school before making the switch and shadowing a current student (if possible), so that they can begin to familiarize themselves with the facilities.
By visiting your child's new school before their classes begin, they'll get a first-hand feel for the layout of the campus, as well as the general atmosphere that they’re likely to encounter as a student. They'll also get to see first hand some of the great new features the school has to offer, including science labs, athletic facilities, greenhouses, and outdoor learning areas, etc., which can help build excitement.
But just as important, visiting the school will help your child to feel less like a stranger on their first day, when in addition to exploring the campus they will be navigating the tricky world of making new friendships and building new relationships. Making friends and learning is a whole lot easier when you already feel somewhat at home.
4. Explain how a new school will benefit their future
Your child may feel like their school change is unfair, forced, or arbitrary. It's important that you explain to them that this change is not for your personal convenience, but for their future education and enrichment as a human being.
While the immediate switch may be a bit uncomfortable, you are making the switch because you believe that they will be happier here in the long term. When explaining the switch to a new school to your child, it's crucial that you be informative and understanding.
Transitions are difficult for everyone and at any age. If your child has any kind of questions, answering them clearly can help give them a sense of agency in the decision. If they have concerns, you should show warmth and empathy while providing reassurance.
Middle school children are still developing and learning, but they are still very smart and intuitive. Being honest, upfront, and positive are all good strategies.
It's All About Frame of Mind
If you want your child to get the most out of their switch to a new middle school, it’s important that they approach the change with the right frame of mind. Painting a positive picture and getting them excited about their new school is one way that parents can help ease the transition.