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The Flip Side

Is it Time for Your Child to Try a New School?

All parents seek to provide the best education possible for their children, but determining the path to that goal can be difficult. Many families commit to a school in pre-K or kindergarten, thinking that their children are “set” until at least fifth or eighth grades, and possibly through high school. By upper elementary and middle grades, however, students have changed significantly, with personalities and learning styles becoming more pronounced. Families then face a myriad of questions and decisions about how to nurture their children. One piece of that puzzle is assessing whether a school that may once have served a child well is still doing so—or is it time for a change?

Most families who contemplate changing schools do so because of two fundamental reasons: Either their students are eager to take on new challenges, or they are struggling. Gifted students, for example, may yearn for enrichment. Students with learning differences may need support. Some students experience low self-esteem relating to school events. Others discover a driving passion for sports, arts, or science that they want to pursue intensely. The underlying causes play out in ways that are as diverse as children themselves.

The decision to change is no small matter. It can disrupt social networks, impact finely tuned family schedules, and carry financial implications. Just finding the new educational options requires an investment…to be followed by further time and energy in helping the student transition to a new school. With so much at stake, parents may wonder, will things really be different?

As an educational consultant, I have worked with many families for whom the answer to that question was a resounding yes. When a child’s specific needs first emerge, parents often respond by working with the current teachers and supplementing with after-school activities. Over time, however, if families find that they are constantly trying to “fix” school-related issues, then it is time to explore other options. I also strongly recommend to parents to trust their instincts—if they suspect that the current school is not furthering their child’s growth, then that is enough of a reason to investigate alternatives. The educational world has never before offered so many varied—and pedagogically sound—educational environments. For each individual student, somewhere a school exists that offers the appropriate challenges and rewards. As they watch their children grow exponentially in new school settings, parents feel once again confident that they have found the best milieu to promote their child’s optimal growth.

Audrey Noyes Ludemann helps families seek independent school education, ranging from day schools to boarding schools and from elementary to secondary grades. She also is an invaluable resource for planning across different learning styles—serving families whose students are gifted and/or have moderate learning differences. She can be reached