Changing schools - really worried my children will be devastated. Would welcome any advice

(31 Posts)
mimosa Fri 14-Jun-13 22:53:25

We are moving our 2 children (5 and 7) from our local village school to an independant school. Mainly because the school has fallen short of what we had hoped for. The children are happy there but we think they will do better in a different school. I am confident this is the right thing to do however am really worried that they will be really sad to leave their school. Any advice about how to make the change?? We havent told them yet..........

DStone Thu 27-Jun-13 19:39:19

The difficulty of not telling everyone before you leave is if you are preparing your child beforehand so they have time to adjust and get used to the idea the children will talk to each other in the playground, my dd's best friends mums had heard from their children before I had spoken to them so not telling anyone until the last minute didn't really work for us.
Also, I only told a few mums and said we were moving to be close to family as the main reason and that it was a difficult decision to make. I've never said anything negative about the current school even though a huge advantage of moving will be that I think my dd will do better in the new school because of the smaller classes. So even though I have been very sensitive to the feelings of the other mums I am still getting the cold shoulder (from some not all).
I tried to handle the situation well for the sake of my dd but at the end of the day I've resigned myself to the fact that it's a difficult situation and not everyone will understand. Luckily for me even though my dd has not been invited to a couple of things she would normally have been invited too it seems to be upsetting me more than her which is a good thing.

VenusSurprising Tue 25-Jun-13 20:20:13

I'm sure they will be fine.
Have play dates with children from their old school.

Don't tell everyone at the old school, only some friends, and then only just before the move. This will lessen the risk of your kids being isolated, as "don't invite them, they're moving anyway" things can happen.

Make sure your kids know they can visit their old school anytime for a visit.

Emphasise the friendliness of the new kids and the facilities of the new school.

Don't listen to anyone who is saying anything negative about it! You know your reasons, and your kids best, and you're in charge.

Keep up extra curricular activities in neutral (not old and not new) space with a third set of friends.

steppemum Tue 25-Jun-13 20:17:31

I would actually highly recommend not waiting to sept to move.

Mine had to move schools when we moved house. There were 2 weeks to go in the summer term. They had done their end of term outings at the old school, and although we could have (just) driven them back and forth after we moved till the end of term, we decided to move them.

It was a good decision as they saw the new school, met people, got familiar with the set up and then went on holiday.

If we hadn't done those 2 weeks, my kids would have worried all summer about the new school, especially ds.

It took them time, and dd1 has never had such good friends as at her old school, the only consolation is that her 2 close friends have themselves moved so they would no longer be there even if we had stayed.

DStone I think you have to understand that by moving your child you are indirectly saying the school isn't good enough so the other parents will feel defensive. We moved DS when he was almost 6 and I had to accept a few negative comments. However I have never criticised the old school (although I've listened to a few complaints!) and I don't really talk about the new school. DS has kept his friends and I'm still friendly with the mums.

It takes a bit of understanding and a willingness to accept that the other parents all want the best for their child just as you want the best for your child. But the option you (and I) have chosen isn't open to everyone and you need to be sensitive about that.

Don't give up on your DDs friend, keep inviting her round and make sure the other mum understands how important her daughter is to your child.

sunnydaylucy Sun 23-Jun-13 22:30:10

We are moving our 3 DD's (5,8,11) to their 3rd school out of necessity for work. We told them over the whit half term holidays. We were honest with them and explained why we were doing it and that we had spent a lot of time looking for the best school for them (true,although in reality we had little choice if we wanted to keep them together). Keeping up with their Girl Guiding is important to all of them so I made sure that was sorted for when we moved last time.

We told DD1 (age 11) on her own as she will be going to a different high school than we had planned, she took this badly initially but is now excited.

As someone said it does depend on the child how much time they need to get use to the idea. Playdates aren't a possibility for us as we don't know anyone until we get there. The 2 younger girls have been on a visit day and enjoyed it. (Fingers crossed for September)

All the best to you and your family OP, only you know what's best for your family but I have found honesty with the children (and bigging up the new school at every opportunity!!) worked well for us last time.
We are hoping not to have to move them again.

DStone Sun 23-Jun-13 19:57:33

Hi Tina it's nice to hear from someone in the same boat. I had the same intention to make every effort to stay in touch with all the mums of Dds close friends but I don't think it's going to be possible with her best friend because of how her mum is acting. I find this really sad because that little girl is probably the one Dd will miss the most and I don't know what I will tell her when she asks to see her after the move. Also counting the weeks now and can't wait to be on the otherside of the transition, good luck with your move.

TinaSurrey Sun 23-Jun-13 16:36:35

DStone - some parents have been like that with me too. Only goes to show they were not good friends really doesn't it. I just want to make the move now and put effort into making new friends for the children (and me!). Those that matter will stay in touch and for them I will also make every effort.

Hard as it is to feel on the outside I KNOW beyond any doubt the current school has terrible leadership and that we are moving to a much more honest, transparent and happier place. Counting the weeks...

DStone Sat 22-Jun-13 19:31:57

Is moving your child from one school to another at aged 6 really a bad thing? I have agonised over this decision for months. I've been open with my Dd from the very beginning, she loved the new school on settling in day and couldn't wait to go back for another day, I have 2 more scheduled before she starts. I think in the long term she will get a better education from the new school compared to the current one plus the opportunity to try more activities because there is more on offer at the new school. She's excited about the move to the new house and the school and being close to family but I've been made to feel like such a bad mother by mums at the current school. I've had comments like it would break their heart to move their child away from their friends etc, I just feel like they are judging me as a bad mother. My Dds best friends mum has avoided talking to me ever since I told her we were moving and I just feel like an outsider. I do worry that the excitement my daughter has shown so far will be short lived when the reality of being away from her current friends sinks in when we have actually moved. Maybe she's not mature enough to have really understood what it all means and how it will affect her. My Dh thinks I over think things and I shouldn't care what other people think but I do..

TinaSurrey Mon 17-Jun-13 23:27:00

We are moving our two from state primary to independent in September. They have both had opportunity of trial day, induction party, charity day etc at new school since passing entrance tests. By the time they break up for summer holidays next month they will have had 3-4 opportunities to spend time at new school (that is not counting the second open day they attended with us. It was just the first one I did alone).

I believe that this is crucial to them feeling positive about the move. The eldest is much more at ease than he was and the youngest is bursting with excitement!

Every single interaction with both the current school and the new serves only to reinforce my decision. I now just pray it was right and they thrive there.

toosoppyforwords Mon 17-Jun-13 14:10:35

I moved my son at the end of reception year from local state primary to local independent (for a whole variety of reasons). I made the decision in the new Year time but did not tell him until the school summer holidays that he would be going to a new school - mainly becuase i knew he would have the 6 week break to get used to not being at the school each day. Of course he was upset at the time but i reassured him he would make new friends (and could still see some of his old ones) and highlighted the positives of new school - eg weekly swimming lessons and so on. TBH i think friends come and go at that age anyway
His first day at new school in Y1 he came home very happy and settled in really well and is doing very well nearly a year down the line.

Remember that children change schools all the time for a variety of reasons and usually settle very well. If you are confident and happy with your decision there is no reason why he wont be happy there, but of course when you first tell him it is natural he will be upset and worried.

dixiechick1975 Sun 16-Jun-13 21:58:43

If the new school offers onsite holiday care see if your children can go - will be a good chance to meet friends.

LoveSewingBee Sun 16-Jun-13 19:09:42

I hope the new school meets your expectations sonyour kids don't have to move again sad.

I think happy settled kids are a prerequisite to learning.

exoticfruits Sun 16-Jun-13 12:57:34

I have been the new child 'flocked around like a honeypot' and still remember it with horror now! ( I was 6yrs at the time)

exoticfruits Sun 16-Jun-13 12:55:59

It depends on the DC- I would have liked the slow build up when a child.

xylem8 Sun 16-Jun-13 10:08:08

I think with things like this it is something to present them with a fait acomplis rather than have them worrying for months.
New kids are always flocked around like a honeypot.

We moved DS to a new school when he was going in to P2 so aged 5. I arranged play dates with children from his new school over the summer so he went in to the class knowing about 5 or 6 of the boys. It helped that DS is quite a genial, unflustered boy so he seemed to just adjust with no fuss.

However, I did put a lot of effort in to play dates etc. and I kept him at activities where he met his friends from his old school.

joanofarchitrave Sat 15-Jun-13 22:53:35

I moved schools at 8 from a school I really liked. Sat next to two really friendly girls that first day and they are still my closest friends 36 years later.

Have confidence in your decision - you're the parent and you know why you have made this choice. Explain it to the children as a positive move. I don't remember a moment's difficulty tbh.

pennefab Sat 15-Jun-13 22:50:39

My DC changing schools for 2nd time in 2 yrs.

First due to job relo. DC never really fit in at new school. As parents we were sad to see DC change to sad child, acting more immature, etc. After certain events, decided to change schools again (rather abruptly). DC not too keen to leave the known and be new kid again. However, DC can see the positives to the new school. And, throughout all, kept touch with old old dear friends and return to original town several times per year.

Have to say that at some point, as the parent who can see the long-term picture ... If a change needs to be made, do it. Be compassionate, enable old friendships to continue, but also embrace the new and keep forward looking.

My DC made moves starting as new Yr 4 and now new Yr 5. Also, summer born and less mature in some respects.

Good luck!

Chandon Sat 15-Jun-13 19:35:44

I did this when children were 6 and 9.

The 6 year old was very upset and it was important for me to have time and emotional energy to listen to him. I also had a few of his friends over for a tea party, and took time to get to know parents so we could help new friendships to be established.

I had to be patient and accept that he missed his old school.

Two years in, he is very happy in the prep, and loves all the sport. He still sees his old friends regularly too, as we still do a few clubs locally ( so not just through school).

It requires a bit of effort, but it really can be managed.

It is also important never to badmouth the old school imo. As that will be relayed back to old friends ( and their parents!)

We still go to the old school's fetes and guy faulks etc.

TeenAndTween Sat 15-Jun-13 11:55:56

OK, you have a month of school then the whole holidays, that is plenty of time to prepare a 5 and 7 year old.

Of course they will be a bit sad, but there is no need for them to be devastated if you sell it to them the right way. lots of children move schools for lots of reasons and survive.

What I would do is ...

Take them to look at it, sell to them the positive features of the new school - the things that will appeal to them (eg better play areas, more sport or whatever). Tell them they can still see existing friends at after school/weekends. Give them the opportunity to meet their new teacher.

Don't slag off existing school (they may repeat to their friends who will then tell their parents). Say different schools suit different children and you think that this new school is what they will need for juniors so you are moving them. Be upbeat and reassuring.

exoticfruits Sat 15-Jun-13 08:09:47

I wouldn't present it as a shock- I am surprised that they haven't heard discussions, been to see the school, done a trial day etc. I would try and get contacts and meet some of the new children in the holidays and take them around the new school before the term ends.

dinkystinky Sat 15-Jun-13 07:53:02

My 2 - aged 7 and 4 - are moving to an independent school next term. I'm going to arrange a couple of play dates for them over the summer with friends from the new school. We've talked to them both about it, been very open about our reasons for moving them and talked about the things the new school focuses on (more of a liberal education). We've also promised to keep up play dates with their local friends (the school they go to currently is just round the corner) and ds1 does swimming and karate after school with a couple of friends. I don't think our 4 year old really gets it but am taking him to the new school next week for an induction meeting so will hopefully help in meeting some new classmates.

sashh Sat 15-Jun-13 07:43:43

Glad ds can keep up with beavers, please try to have playdates with children from the old school as well as the new.

Take them to look round the new school. Change at the end of the year, my moves were all mid term and I'm sure it makes a difference.

Also I didn't get the opportunity to get people's addresses to write to them, my older brother used to write to his old school friend occasionally.

Oh I forgot to mention the faith schools had different holidays to the other kids in the area, check your new school to see if they match.

ohforfoxsake Sat 15-Jun-13 07:30:37

They'll be fine. The best thing is you can maintain current friendships and out of school activities.

mimosa Sat 15-Jun-13 06:59:55

Hi, thanks for comments. Changing school for lots of reasons, no need to go into why, just to say that it is a better school and it will fit into our domestic situation better. I was really looking for advice about how to make the change with minimal upset. Thanks for your comment Acebaby. We have arranged settling in settling, and I do plan on trying to arrange play dates. Also, DS will still be able to go to beavers wtih his friend from current school.
Sashh, your experience sounds heart breaking.

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