The choice to change schools mid-year is neither light nor easy. No matter how positive the possible outcome might be, transitions are hard. Particularly for a sensitive and quirky gifted or twice-exceptional child.
Why, then, do some families pursue mid-year school changes?
You may want to change your child’s school for many reasons. You may have shifting academic needs, health reasons, or a general mismatch in family-school values, to name a few.
There may also be some clear signs from your child that something isn’t right. Does your child hate school? Do you know they are capable of higher achievement, yet they continue to struggle? Does your child hide their abilities? If so, your child’s unique educational needs aren’t being met.
This is much more than an issue of academic needs; we’re looking at social and emotional-educational needs as well. If your child struggles to connect to their studies, as well as to the other students and professionals in their learning environment, it’s a problem that will have repercussions far beyond the classroom.
Here are some concrete examples of what it might look like if your child’s educational environment isn’t right for them.
- They express anguish and upset more often than not when it’s time to leave for school.
- They are constantly being reprimanded for off-task behavior or interrupting.
- They have no one to play with at recess and/or complain of bullying at recess or at other times.
- They complete very few assignments and tend to fib over how much work they do or don’t have.
- They come home from school regularly and explode over seemingly little things.
- They are not receiving agreed upon accommodations for learning and social differences.
Overall, most children’s issues with school are linked to a lack of connection to the academic material and school population. It’s not unusual for a child to experience issues with a learning environment at least once in their lives. This fairly common experience can grow into a large problem, though. When your child’s issue has been identified and the adults in charge do very little—or even nothing—to enact actual change or get to the bottom of what’s going on, this is a significant warning sign.
Let’s take one of the examples from above: “They are not receiving agreed upon accommodations for learning and social differences.” This one should be straightforward! If your child is not receiving their accommodations and it’s brought to the attention of those in charge, you would hope that the response would be something like, “Thank you for bringing this to our attention, we have __________________ ideas about how to increase accountability around this issue.” That’s positive! Those sound like people who are trying. They want to keep taking action in the hopes of meeting your child’s needs.
The four most important components for change—the conversation, the effort, the capacity, and the care— are all there.
If you don’t have faith that these four necessary conditions exist in your child’s current education environment, and you’re attempting to problem solve on an issue with your school, it stands to reason that your child’s educational and social needs aren’t going to be met.
Of course, there is no perfect school. Schools are run by humans and humans, as we know, are fallible. In addition, understanding what it means to educate in a manner that respects cognitive differences is only now coming to be, and it’s a steep learning curve! The question to ask isn’t, “Is my child’s school perfect?” Instead, try these questions: Does the school have the willingness to take responsibility for its fallibility? Are they willing to adapt, learn, and become better? Does the school have the capacity, (meaning the knowledge and the tools and staff) to properly serve your child? When you find a school that can honestly answer “Yes” to those difficult questions, you have found the kinds of people you want to work with.
And if it’s not the case, it’s time to look for an alternative with professionals who are willing to try, and who have the resources to do so.
Even though a mid-year transition can be daunting, it is often worth all the challenges. If your child is currently struggling against the same unchanging conditions that you know aren’t serving them, doesn’t it make sense to undergo a bit of a struggle to get to conditions that will?
The image of someone dog paddling comes to mind: using all of your energy to stay in the same place—or maybe even be swept backwards by the current. This is how a lot of students and their families feel. What if someone could help your child swim? It would be a tough transition to do something different, but your child could finally start getting where they want and need to be.
Do you live in the Bay Area? If you think a mid-year school change might be right for you, check out Sunnyside Micro-School for gifted and twice-exceptional learners. We launched September of 2017. We have a couple spots left for this year and are taking applications for next. Reach out today!