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Year two - mid year school change - how best to handle it?

(30 Posts)
becstargazeypie Fri 23-Nov-12 12:49:56

So finally DS has been offered a place at the school he's been on the waiting list for since Reception - for him to start next term. I think we want to take it. But what's the best way of handling it to minimise upset for DS?

He doesn't have deep established friendships at current school as his two best friends at current school both emigrated in the summer. But he is settled at his current school, and likes his teachers, is a school councillor etc. I think he will be upset about the idea of moving and will stress about it. What's the best way of making it easier for him? All ideas and experience VERY gratefully received...

becstargazeypie Fri 23-Nov-12 16:40:50

Bump? DH and I have to make a decision this weekend. Not sure whether to talk about it to DS or not... Apparently DS would have to move schools within next two weeks - before the Xmas holidays to get the place.

teacherwith2kids Fri 23-Nov-12 16:51:53

I have accepted several children into my (Year 3) class this year who have transferred from another local school.

The ones who have settled best:
- have been to look round our school with their parents and have met the head.
- have then been in a few days before 'officially' starting to have a short time with the class (e.g. a couple of them spent part of an afternoon followed by assembly)
- have been fully equipped (book bag, school jumper etc) before they start so don't feel 'new'.

I am obviously not party to the 'home' discussions but my impression is
- The children had the decision made for them. They did not have 'a choice'.
- The positive things about the new school have been relentlessly emphasised.
- Arrangements have been made to still see key friends from the previous school e.g after school, through sport.

becstargazeypie Fri 23-Nov-12 17:04:20

Oh thank you teacherwith2kids that's really useful. Particularly interesting to hear that those who settle best don't have a choice. I wondered this - whether it would be giving DS an unfair amount of responsibility or whether he should be involved. I think he's going to be upset about it. Part of the reason I think I should move him is that there aren't any kids he'd keep in touch with from his current school. He had two really close friends but they both emigrated last term. DSs closest friend there now is a nice boy, but his family won't allow him to play with DS outside school because we aren't Muslim ( I posted about it on MN once and started a mini-bun fight...lesson learned!)

teacherwith2kids Fri 23-Nov-12 17:11:20


I think the point about 'a choice' is that (as a general rule) the reasons why adults judge one primary / infant school to be better than another are not within a child's capacity to judge or understand.

There might be some child-obvious ones ('look at all of the work they have done that is up on the walls' / 'look at this great outdoor play area') but many, about e.g. quality of teaching, results, feeder schools et al are not - and to explain them to a child so that they can make an informed choice involves criticising a place that he or she knows well and is likely to have some loyalty to. So sometimes by giving the child the informatiuon they would need to make a choice may actually antagonise the child against the new school ('I won't like it because Mum says the teachers are better than Miss X and I like Miss X and won't have anything nasty said about her. So I won't like this new school, so there')

I would stick to a simple explanation - 'we have always wanted you to go to this school, and we've been really lucky because a place has finally come up. We know that it may be hard to begin with because you won't know everyone but we think it's the best school for you. Let's all go and visit it together next week so that you can see why we like it and you can meet your new teacher.'

Quip Fri 23-Nov-12 17:12:27

Several kids have started mid term at my dcs' school and in a couple of weeks you wouldn't know they were new. In a way It'sless of a big thing than coming in after the holidays when the class will take a few days to settle down.

If it was me I would not convey any element of choice to the child as I don't think a y2 child could understand the context and make a fully informed choice. I'd just go for it smile he'll have a few weeks to settle in before the Xmas holidays.

imtheonlyone Fri 23-Nov-12 17:22:33


We moved so slightly different but my DS was in year two and started in the feb of the school year. He had lots of established friends and I was really concerned he would take backwards steps.

I did take him to have a look around the school before he officially started and he got to meet his new teacher and some of his class too. He adapted far better than I ever imagined he would. The school were very welcoming and by Easter time didn't even feel like the new boy anymore.

I can empathise with your situation - I would just try to put as much of a positive spin on it as possible. At that age they do easily make new friends - and I think boys settle easier than girls (although that's only based on my thoughts rather than fact!!)

I'm sure he will settle in no time - and if its the school you will be most happy with then I say go for it and see. You will be surprised at how adaptable they are.

Good luck x

becstargazeypie Fri 23-Nov-12 17:42:19

Teacher'That's a really good way to tell him about it, thank you for those words. Thanks for the reassurance Quip. Really good to have such clear guidance on not giving him a choice - I'm convinced! You're right that he would feel disloyal and wouldn't be able to fully understand our reasons for preferring the new school....and imtheonlyone - lovely to hear a success story! Very kind of you all to reassure me. I know that DS is good at making new friends, and that he'd be moving to a much better very in-demand school. But it's hard not to worry about him.

alcofrolic Fri 23-Nov-12 20:06:47

If he moves in the next two weeks make sure he gets a walk-on part in the nativity. Joining a new school before Christmas can be awkward with rehearsals, etc.

(I'm not being flippant here - we have high transiency and there's nothing worse than being the new boy sat on the floor for hours watching rehearsals!!)

becstargazeypie Sat 24-Nov-12 11:48:40

That is a really good point alcofrolic - thank you, I wouldn't have thought of that.

DH and I have definitely decided to move him. We're feeling quite emotional and 'are we doing the right thing' about it. And I know DS is going to be really upset in the short term. Such a worry. But the alternative is leaving DS with no close friendships, no one we can invite to his birthday in the summer, at a school which is way below national average for SATs... Oh I do hope we're doing the right thing...

VivaLeBeaver Sat 24-Nov-12 11:59:40

Be prepared for tears. I moved dd in year 3 due to a terrible primary school which was shedding staff and had just failed its ofsted.

We didn't really discuss it with dd, just told her she was moving schools. She was distraught due to friends, etc.

She did go for a day to see her new school. We made the decision she was moving on the Tuesday. Didn't tell her till the following morning which was the morning she was going for her "taster" day. I had to carry her into the new school kicking and screaming. By the time I picked her up she was fine which I knew she would be. She'd made some friends, loved the teacher, etc.

Part of me thinks I handled it badly by not giving her any advance notice. It was a hell of a shock for her. But she's such a worrier. If I'd given her a weeks notice she would have cried and worried and not slept all week. Which I think would have been worse.

She went back to her old school for the last 2 days of the week, mainly to say goodbye to friends. Then started properly on the Monday. She was ok over those few days. Over the next few weeks I had intermittent tears, mainly about missing her old friends.

VivaLeBeaver Sat 24-Nov-12 12:01:29

It was the best thing we ever did for dd, but also the hardest thing we ever did. I think you just need to take the plunge.

Dd came on so well at her new school I was amazed by how much difference it could make. She went from been a year behind in year 3 to passing her 11plus, doing great in year 6 sats.

becstargazeypie Sat 24-Nov-12 12:51:52

Thank you for that VivaleBeaver -I think that's exactly how it's going to be for us, so it's good to hear that you think it was the right thing now you've come out the other side. DS is a worrier too, so we won't tell him til we've settled his start date, got his new uniform and can take him for a visit.

This thread has helped so much. Thank you all for giving such helpful advice.

NotMoreFootball Sat 24-Nov-12 17:09:00

Just wanted to add one more positive story for you. My DS had to change schools during Year 2 earlier this year due to us moving and it has been a great success. The children in his new class were so excited to have 'a new boy' that they couldn't have been nicer and that made him really excited to have lots of new friends. He joined one of the after school clubs in the 2nd week once he had worked out where his new friends would be so he had something in common with them straight away.
The school had a big show a few weeks after he started so he went straight into rehearsals for that which also helps with bonding so the Christmas play might work out well for you. He's been there six months now and I don't think anyone remembers he's the 'new boy' anymore! Good Luck!

becstargazeypie Sat 24-Nov-12 18:24:36

Oh that's good to hear NotMoreFootball. Hope it goes as well for my DS. I'm just dreading telling him. He is going to be so sad. But I'm 99% sure that it's the right thing for the longer term.

becstargazeypie Tue 27-Nov-12 10:24:02

I'm still in a bit of a state about this. We haven't told DS yet. I'm going to ask the Head of his new school if he can possibly start 'properly' after the Christmas holidays. Does that sound reasonable? Visit the school before the holidays but start in January?

DS came home all excited last night because he has got a big part in the school play at the school he's at, and he'll be rehearsing every night in his usual hyper-conscientious style until we tell him - but of course if he changes school he'd miss the play and he'd feel bad about that. He'd only have one week at his new school before the Christmas break and I think that will be a tough week - then he'd have the Christmas holidays worrying about it. Whereas if he can do his Christmas play, do a couple of days at the new school, say goodbye to his friends, meet some kids from his new school in the holidays, go to their carol service etc. and THEN start properly I think he'll feel better about it. But I know they don't get funding for a kid until the kid starts so maybe she won't accept it.

happyglamper Tue 27-Nov-12 13:20:01

We did the same for DS this time last year when he was in yr one, place came up very unexpectedly - went to see the head within an hour of them contacting us, took DS to see the school the next day.
He had the advantage of another child from his school transferring too so they were in it together. At this time of year it's so important to recognise how much they get caught up in the nativity and Christmas preparations, DS was very lucky that he ended up seeing a panto, being in one and seeing another nativity and attending two christmas parties! Also did a morning and afternoon settle.
He was also familiar with the school and most of his class as they all went to pre school together, but we still had to manage his worries which were very much 'rules and regulations' orientated and a sense of loyalty to his old he says his 'new' school is the best and would defend it to the hilt, progressing fantastically academically and socially has re-bonded with all his preschool mates.

Sorry rambling on now but it really was a case of our gut instinct about the right school for him being proved correct, a year ago it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster but stick with it! Looking forward to hearing how you get on

becstargazeypie Tue 27-Nov-12 20:23:56

Thank you happyglamper that's really good to hear. I'll definitely come back and let you all know how it goes...

mam29 Tue 27-Nov-12 21:37:57

Been through it very recent,

dd year 2.

went to 1st choice primary in reception/year 1
she attended attached preschool so had loads of freinds move onto primary with her.

Reception went ok

year 1struggled acdemically fell behind
few rows had one close freind not from preschool who was bit controlling and fickle.
lack of any after school clubs.

did one term of year 2, we as parents and dd clashed with year 2teacher. dd was miserable crying dident wnat to go in, crying when got home as got told off something she doident do,

When asked her summer term year 1 you want a move her answer was no I miss my freinds.

we enquired over summer-smallaer village school.
dident expect vacancy was going to put name down waitlist.
Halfway through sept email went to veiw really liked it dh was sure said too much upheavel he dident see much benefit.

we argued for 2weeks. then took dd to see.
even after she saw it she said she wasent sure but during her visit she spotted 2people she knew from out of school club and loved the year 2class.

After big 2day row dh said ok then
i sold her postive spin that she could still see old freinds
many go rainbows/gym or cheer;eading with her,.

we dident tell school until end of last day term teacher went bit mad only made me think yes we doing right thing.

Anyway she started after half term shes on 4th week
shes like diffrent child reminds me of hos she used to be,
she has much wider social circle
after school club and loads fun opportunities at juniors.
shes been assigned a buddy shes mixed year 1/2class but one of oldest really boosted her confidence and self esteem and think they can help her with her academic issues.

Shes so much happier it is further away and and her sister does old school so 2school runs.

She really surprised me and now since e left found out lost that now make us realise hy she was unhappy best thing we done.

she has decent part nativity
school party, panto trip to look foward to
3church services.

shes had cerificate in assembly
teacher says feels like shes always been there.

good luck whatever you decide think its been more traumatic for us than ds as we had parent freinds, I was on pta at old school.
I worried what others would think.

becstargazeypie Thu 29-Nov-12 20:40:16

Thanks mam29 - great to have another positive story. We are going to tell DS at the weekend. I'll be back to tell you how it all goes...

becstargazeypie Mon 03-Dec-12 13:33:38

So we told him on Friday. Lots of tears, adamant 'Well, I'm not going, so that's it', 'It's a rubbish school, I hate the kids who go there, I don't want to be friends with any of them'. DH and I were careful to stay positive and not betray how upset we were to be upsetting him like this. He was visibly shocked, white and shakey and just so upset. We talked about all his worries, and reassured him and he started to cheer up. Thanks very much for the guidance on not giving him a choice - that really helped. As soon as he knew it was going to happen anyway he started to settle his mind to it.

Then we gave him a Captain Rex Blaster Gun for being brave and positive, and he was laughing and playing Clone Wars with us, and slept well that night. The power of consumerism smile

I think today will be emotional for him as he'll be telling his friends and his teacher. He's starting in 2 weeks time, just for the last week of term. The Head convinced me that it will give him a very positive fun experience at the school, as in the last week they'll mostly be having a good time. At least he'll have had the chance to say goodbye to everyone at his current school. Maybe he'll even have some friends at the new school by the end of that week so going back after the Christmas holiday will be something he can look forward to.

Everyone I've told who is local to us, or who is emotionally close to our DS is really pleased for us and excited and say what wonderful news it is. I didn't realise how worried some of them were about the school he was at (his DGPs, aunts, uncles etc. - they hadn't said anything, but apparently were all worried about him and are over the moon about the change). The school he's moving to has an amazing reputation and some of the things that DS has been through at his current school are pretty dreadful - although he's stayed positive and cheerful throughout. It's amazing how loyal he is to his current school really. Hopefully he'll feel the same sense of loyalty to his new school once he's settled in, and he can make some friends.

If anyone has any more tips for helping him settle I'd really appreciate it. I don't want him to go through more upheaval or stress than necessary - anything I can do to make it easier for him?

becstarlightstarbright Fri 14-Dec-12 14:33:58

So he's starting his new school on Monday (slight name change, still becstar)

He's quite sad and withdrawn, not his usual self at all. No dramatics, just not talkative like he usually is, and going off to cry quietly alone a couple of times. sad We're going away for the weekend which will hopefully distract him. And DH is taking a week off work so we can be there to support him in the first week.

I feel very guilty for making DS sad, and I'm just praying that it all works out. I made the decision with his long term happiness in mind. If he doesn't settle at the school I'll have made him unhappy for no good reason sad Oh please, please, please let him be happy.

mam29 Fri 14-Dec-12 22:28:50

Just wanted to add good luck.

hes not started yet hes bound to be apprehensive.

all i can say is be positive bug up the good parts of school you think he may like-ie after school clubs, facilities they have,
how much does old and new school differ?

dds new school assigned her a buddy just girl in her class and that really helped her settle.

had parents evening tonight shes been in new school 5weeks was off sick most last week.

They said over weeks her happyness and confidence has grown and feels like shes been there from beginning im amazed and relieved how quick shes settled in.

Im sure with xmas just round corner he be usual happy self.

plus always notice end of term burnout when they tired and grumpy anyway.

Laura0806 Sat 15-Dec-12 13:23:37

Im in the same boat, I have a very shy and anxious child who is transferring schools at year 2. She is doing 2 half days next week to get used to it and going full time after christmas. Could you maybe ask for him to do half days next week and he may not feel so daunted if he knows you are picking him up at lunchtime and I think having a buddy will help too , but sure the school will do this as a matter of course. Let us know how you get on, I really hope he settles. I have had the same, caught my daugher sobbing a few times but I think she is a bit excited too just very nervous. Like others have said just be really positive about it yourself and then hopefully it will rub off on your son, its hard being a parent!!!

teacherwith2kids Sat 15-Dec-12 13:58:27

Good luck for Monday! I hope that it goes well.

I feel that it is important to acknowledge that it is quite normal to be sad about leaving somewhere that you are familiar with, so that he doesn't feel 'forced' to be positive about his first few days. If you can tell him any stories from your own experience so much the better (e.g. 'I was sad when we had to move out of our old house because....., but after we'd been in this new one for a while i realised ho wmuch better it is and I'm really happy here' or 'I was sad when I had to leave behind all the friends i had in my old job, but after I had been in my new job for a while I made new friends and overall it was better because...)

DS has many ASD traits, so I have always spent quite a lot of time explicitly 'teaching' him about emotional responses to things, and verbalising 'how many people feel', the names for feelings etc etc, and I have found that reassuring him that what he feels is expected often makes that feeling last for a shorter time than if I try to 'force' his feelings to change by e.g. jollying him along, over-stressing the positive etc.

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