The scenario which we are going to discuss is not as uncommon as you might think. After all you have spent a considerable amount of time researching and visiting schools in a serious effort to find the school with the best fit. But a few months after school has begun you realize that something isn't right. Your child is miserable. Well, that's just one of the several reasons why you might want to change schools. Let's look at some other reasons.
1. Your child has been expelled.
Ouch! We will discuss this unfortunate reason for finding a new school first. This reason for changing schools is rather like being fired. It is enormously dispiriting and in many ways a life-changing experience just like losing your job is. Continuing that analogy, finding a new school for a child who has been expelled is almost as difficult as finding a new job is. The following video describes what happens when your child is expelled from public school. Private school expulsions are covered by the contract which you and the school signed.The net result is the same and is a very serious situation.
You can expect to have lots of questions asked. So, have your answers well thought out. Do not equivocate. Try not to put too positive a spin on the situation. An admissions staffer will see right through that. Answer the questions truthfully. The school will want to know if your child has learned his lesson. Do not speak ill of his previous school. Nobody wants to admit a trouble maker. Contrition is your watchword. What are your chances of getting into another school fairly quickly? Assuming that your child's academics were strong and all the other items in his admissions profile indicate a positive trend, you will stand a good chance at just about any school which has open places.
2. Your child has not been asked back.
While not as serious as being expelled, not being asked back after a year at the school indicates that something went wrong. Unless you plan to move out of the country, be prepared to answer some in-depth questions about why your child's previous school was not a good fit. If there were issues which the previous school felt needed to be addressed, then be sure to have your corrective action plan in full swing. The admissions staff will ask about it.
In situations like this it makes sense to have the necessary documentation to prove that you noticed things were not working out. Notes of meetings and conferences in which you addressed the situation will be helpful as you explain your reasons for finding a new school to an admissions staffer.
3. Your child is unhappy.
An unhappy child is simply not something any parent wants. You need to deal with whatever is creating the unhappiness. If your child is unhappy at school because there is turmoil at home, then you need to get her professional help to deal with those issues. Parents get divorced and financial circumstances change all the time. A skilled professional can help her work through her issues and emerge on the other side a much happier person. As this video explains talking through problems is a good start to turning things around.
On the other hand, if the problem is a teacher or something else school-related, do your due diligence carefully and determine if the issues can be resolved and peace restored. If not, then a change of school is most definitely recommended.
Incidentally this is a scenario which is not exclusive to any particular grade. I have had a grandson in preschool and a child in 10th grade both suffer from the syndrome. The important thing is not to ignore the symptoms.
4. You are not satisfied with the school.
This is not all that common but can happen. Expectations are not being met in one way or another. Perhaps you thought the program was something other than what it actually is. Or you discovered that the school doesn't offer the enrichment activities you feel your child needs.
In this case, before you go through all the bother of finding a new school, sit down with the school authorities and see what can be done to resolve the situation. If they like your child and she has done well as far as they are concerned, they most likely won't want to lose her. Don't be threatening or difficult. Lay out the issues and concerns as you see them and listen carefully to their response. If you don't like what you hear, then fold your tent and find a new school.
5. Your financial circumstances have changed.
This reason for changing schools was much more common after the financial meltdown of 2008 and the resulting economic chaos which has ensued. While the economic recovery in the United States has proceeded apace, there are many economies elsewhere in the world which are less stable. If you work for a multi-national corporation, you are only too well aware of the cross-currents and slowdowns which seem to come out nowhere. Add to that the impact of sharply lower oil prices and you can begin to see why some families could find their financial circumstances have changed rather dramatically for the worst. Bob Shorb, Skidmore College's Associate Dean and Director of Student Aid and Family Finance, offers some advice on how to handle changing financial circumstances. While Dr. Shorb is addressing parents of college students, the message is essentially the same for parents of private K-12 students.
You may have thought you were all set financially when suddenly "Wham!" your picture has changed significantly. If you find yourself unable to pay school fees, Here's what to do: swallow your pride and discuss your circumstances fully and frankly with the school authorities. If they hold your child in high esteem and she is doing well, they might be able to help. It never hurts to ask. Failing success, then begin to explore your options in the private school world. Remember: there are several schools which are tuition free or very nearly so.
Changing schools is a serious business. Normally you'd want to make changes at the common entry points such as grade 6/7 for middle school and 9/10 for high school. But if you have no other choice and changing schools is your only option, it is doable.
You will find in most cases that an educational consultant will save you much angst, time and possibly money. She will know which schools can be approached. She will know which schools might listen to your situation. There are a host of variables in these cases, so there will be no hard and fast answers. My advice to you is to take her advice and follow it.
Questions? You may contact me on Twitter. @privateschl