Transition – the process of transferring from one school to another – is a normal stage of a child’s life. It can be an exciting time, representing growth and progress, from kindergarten to elementary school, elementary to high school.
However children spent a significant proportion of their days at school, and the change can sometimes be traumatic. Educational researchers have long established the risks, and the importance of supporting students through transition.
“Third culture kids” are likely to experience transition more often than peers in their home country. Parents moving jobs will often mean their children moving schools, whether they like it or not. The challenges can be even greater for the kids, with international schools often using very different curricula and teaching methods from each other.
We talked to Catherine Powell and Shasha Huang, Co-Directors of the Center for Learning, Language and Enrichment at Keystone Academy, about how parents can help their children through these challenging times in a child’s life.
What are the major changes parents and children can expect when transitioning from (eg) elementary school to high school?
“The important key is how students think about their own intelligence and abilities. Some adjust and thrive well others do not. Some students find increased socializing a challenge. It is important that parents reach out to the school’s support systems if they see their child is struggling.
“Some major changes:
- Different models of teaching and grouping- they might not be with their friends anymore.
- Class size.
- Getting from one class to another.
- Teachers in the middle and high school expect students to be more independent in their self-management.
- There are both physical and developmental changes as they go through puberty.
- They become more engaged with peers and less engaged with parents as they gain more independence.”
What issues do parents need to be aware of when their child is changing schools?
“Before moving to a new school it is important to spend time researching to find the best fit for your child. Parents can help prepare their child for the transition. Parents should be aware of their child’s responses to their new setting, academically emotionally and socially. It is helpful to talk with your child to find out what their concerns are and find a contact person at the school who can help with those concerns. It is usually a homeroom teacher or advisor.”
What can they do to prepare their child for the change?
“Parents can visit the school in advance to meet teachers, tour the building, walk through their schedule and locate their locker. They should be able to identify at least one person and place to go to if they need help. If a school visit is not possible they should look at the school’s website together in detail.”
What warning signs should they look for that their child might not be settling?
“If after 4-5 weeks students are showing signs of depression, anxiety, withdrawal or increased misbehaviors, parent should contact the school.
- Loss of interest
- Short temper
- Withdrawing from others
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits.
- Refusal to go to school
- Isolation or bullying”
Under what circumstances should parents consider moving their child to a different school?
“Ultimately parents want their children to be happy so if a child is not happy and the parents have done what they can it might be time to consider moving schools, preferably at the summer break. A move mid year can be very difficult for kids.”
Meet Keystone Academy at the 7th Beijing International School Expo (BISE) hosted by beijingkids and JingKids on February 18-19, 2017 from 10am-4pm at the Crowne Plaza Beijing Chaoyang U-Town. Find out more information about the event here.
We suggest you take advantage of one of the few events in Beijing for families that are actually free – register now for a quick and painless breeze through the check-in line.
Photo: courtesy of Keystone Academy