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Please help: How do I tell my 5 year old that we are changing his school

18 replies

AussieSim · 27/09/2008 00:11

DS1 has been going to Kindergarten at a Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf) school for 2008 and prior to that he had 2 years of Pre-school with them. I have enjoyed it and so has he but for many reasons DH and I have decided it is time to change him out. One main reason is that I have to drive anywhere from 30mins to an hour depending on traffic to get him to his current school and since I have DS2 3yo and DD1 4mo it has become very stressful (and expensive with the price of petrol these days). He loves it at his school and has made some good friends and his teacher is lovely. How do I tell him about his new school and get him to look forward to going, especially as he will have to wear a uniform for the first time and his new school is far more academic than he has been used to (John Colet). DS1 is a sensitive, deep thinking little boy. Any suggestions gratefully received.

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Bowddee · 27/09/2008 00:14

Can he keep in contact with his current school friends? Perhaps have one or two round for tea once or twice a month? That way he won't be completely cut off from what he knows. It may also help with him making new friends.

Marina · 27/09/2008 00:20

I think given the rather radical change of culture you need to have a meeting with the new school to discuss a strategy for settling him. Hopefully he will love it - children are more resourceful than we give them credit for

Janni · 27/09/2008 00:23

I agree with Marina. It is important that his new school understands what he has been used to at Steiner and make allowances until he adapts.

AussieSim · 27/09/2008 01:22

They are good thoughts. Thanks. How much notice should I give him of the change though. His grasp of weeks, months seems pretty ... to me. Should I just stick to a simple reason like the new school is close to our house or go into it deeper? There is a morning orientation session at JC in the last week of October that he will go to.

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ghosty · 27/09/2008 03:17

I think we as parents tend to put our own thoughts and feelings about moving onto our children - I have been guilty of it myself.
We moved house just before DS started school and I worried and worried myself sick about how he was going to deal with not going to school with his kindergarten friends. When we told him (a week or so before moving) he didn't bat an eyelid. I think his reaction was something like, "Oh, ok". And he is a deep thinking child too ...
Then when he was nearly 7 we moved countries and I lost sleep again over how he was going to cope ... and although that time he was a little less impressed (he was sad to say goodbye to his buddies) he was also excited about moving to Australia and starting a new school.
My parents moved us around a lot when we were children and I really didn't give a second thought about leaving one school for another - the family was moving and that was that.
DH and I know (from personal experience) that the time to really really worry about moving schools is the early teenage years. We have decided that wherever we are by the time DS is 12 is where we will stay until he finishes school (and DD too).

I really think you should go the simple route and enjoy the orientation session at JC ... Your DS trusts you and won't question it ... he is only 5 after all

AussieSim · 27/09/2008 05:05

Thanks Ghosty. I know I have a friend who over the years has worried greatly about the impact of her illness on her children and my stock standard response has always been - children are resilient.

I do think that it will be the change in educational philosophy that will stand out to DS1 most of all. He is a very social child and will make friends again I know. But how he will go from singing about the wonder of mother nature and only painting with water colours and playing with toys made of unstained wood to sitting down at a desk with a book in front of him ... He will not be prepared for it the way that his peers will have been. My 3yo is more into counting and writing than my 5yo - through my choices I know. DS1 is also resistant to me showing him how to write his name or how to count past 20. I think he is a clever boy but he is coming out of 3 years of conditioning ...

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ghosty · 27/09/2008 05:30

Yes but he is so young that he will adjust a lot quicker than you think ... My DS had no formal 'teaching' at all before he started school - the NZ kindergarten system is completely 'play based learning' with no letters or counting. The teachers are not even allowed to show the children how to make a sandcastle as that is deemed as discouraging them to find their 'own' way ... I was really worried about how he was going to cope with sitting down at a desk etc .... but he did settle down quite quickly in the end ...
You are doing the right thing by doing it now though, and not waiting until he is older to make this big change. I agree that you should make sure the teachers at JC really do help him make that transition and that they understand it may take a bit longer than other children who are coming from more 'traditional' backgrounds ....
But your main question what how to broach the subject with him and I still thing the less fuss the better and you will find he will just do it because that is the way it has to be ... does that make sense? Rather than make a big thing about the change (which could scare him actually) ...
I made a big thing to DD about her first school visit last month (she starts school in January but they have one visit a month from August to December) and then when the day loomed she broke down and was terrified. I really really regretted going on about it actually, should have just left it until the day before ...
Anyway, at the end of the day she absolutely loved it

WideWebWitch · 27/09/2008 05:42

Hi Aussiesim, I wouldn't worry aobut the difference in school techniques necessarily, at 5yo they're not expected to be able to read and write and so on (in the UK anyway, are you in Austalia?) so I don't think he'll find he's very different to other children. Plus their abilities vary SO much at this age. I agree, 5 is a v resilient age and they're young enough not to know a change is supposed to be stressful and often just accept it. Fwiw I moved ds from a small village school to an inner city one when he was 6, it was fine.

Janni · 27/09/2008 20:19

Aussiesim - my DS2 moved from Steiner at aged 7, having been there since he was 3. He adapted amazingly well and is now near the top of his class. He did not want to leave Steiner, in fact, he was distraught and told us we were torturing him and ruining his life , but we were not happy with the education he was receiving and the whole Steiner thing was driving me nuts. It was one of our best ever decisions to move him.

DS1 chose to leave Steiner when he was 11 and made the transition to secondary half way through the year. Academically he coped, but it was tough. Socially he was OK but it has taken him a year, I would say, to really feel at home whereas it took DS2 a week, so I echo what a poster said about the younger they are the easier it is to move them.

You need to appear happy and confident about your choice in front of your son. Don't worry if the first few days are difficult. DS1 said to me during his first week at the new school 'You just want to make me unhappy', but by the end of the second week he said he preferred his new school and would not want to go back.

Interestingly, both boys have kept strong friendships with children from the Steiner School.

Janni · 27/09/2008 20:23

Sorry, that last bit should have said DS2 - who was then 7

AussieSim · 27/09/2008 22:57

Thanks guys. I guess I know you are right about him coping with change at this age. It is also nice to hear from Janni about changing from Steiner. We also felt it was now or we would be locked in until high school. It will be an effort to stay in touch with his friends though as they come from all over Sydney and some of their parents aren't necessarily going to be cooperative ... I will let you know how we get on.

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Janni · 28/09/2008 00:22

AussieSim - stick with it, trust that you are doing the right thing and he will pick up on that. Even if he protests, think about the long term, of which he has no idea. Children cannot possibly know what is right for them long-term, so you might just have to guide him through his initial upset, if it manifests itself.

Others on this thread, though, have said that he might just totally accept it. You'll have to wait and see!

Good luck.

sunnydelight · 29/09/2008 03:55

One of the (very nice) boys in DDs pre-school class will be starting kindy at JC in January I kind of assumed everyone would just move on to the kindy class where they are (NBCS)as I know they are trying to make the pre-school the "usual point of entry" rather than kindy, but there are a few going elsewhere and a couple staying for another year in pre-school. The kids all know that "X will be in school with me" and "X is going elsewhere" and they all take it in their stride like they do at that age!

As JC doesn't have a pre-school it will be new to all the kids equally, and I would imagine the kindy mums will be keen to get friendships going.

I think if you're not totally committed to Steiner all the way through, now is a good time to move him. Both of my boys had a couple of years at an alternative school in the UK and I homeschooled DS2 for six months when we arrived here, but all my kids (Y9, Y3 and pre-school) seem much happier where they are now which is quite a traditional academic setting (complete with lovely Aussie school uniform }

AussieSim · 29/09/2008 04:36

Thanks Sunny. I am hoping that DS1 hits it off with some of the other kids at their morning in October and that I can scrounge some contact details so that we could stay in touch through till school starts (how desperate does that sound .

I have some friends in the neighbourhood who intend to send their kids to NBCS for high school, but in the meantime are just sending them to the local public school. JC seems to be a feeder school for Pittwater House at the moment, which I don't know too much about but from their website looks interesting.

At JC they don't have a 'kindergarten' per se but a class they call Lower 1st Class and then the following year is called Upper First Class Kind of good for us given that DS1 thinks he has already done Kindergarten (though his main learnings are in the areas of craft, singing and observing nature)

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rubyloopy · 29/09/2008 10:38

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Robean · 14/10/2008 14:41

This reply has been deleted

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chipmunkswhereareyou · 14/10/2008 18:19

Sorry robean but you need to use the media requests boards.

Robean · 15/10/2008 22:03

You can also contact me on [email protected] if you prefer? Robean

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