Changing schools is never easy for most children. For parents, to find the right school and then to have a child well adjusted in the new setup can take months. The average is believed to be six months! This means that there is some learning loss due to the gap/transition. It also means that the student has to get acclimatized to the new environment while dealing with emotional changes. However, mobility is the reality of today and families often relocate for a lot of reasons. Make sure that when you do, your child has a smooth transition to the new school and entire process has a minimal negative impact on the child.
The right school matters
There is no doubt that it’s the school that can make all the difference. No wonder parents spend most of their time looking for the ideal school. So what makes a school ideal? It can mean different things for different families. For a highly mobile family that is constantly on the move between countries every few years, international schools are the best bet while for a local family that may move within Singapore a local school might be preferable. There are no tight compartments though. Expat families are often very keen on enabling a more local cultural experience for their children and may prefer local schools, while Singaporeans would like their children to have access to non-mainstream education and therefore enroll in International schools. With an offering of an IB curriculum, international schools do have an edge when families move in from countries like USA, Australia and Europe.
The school’s environment can play a crucial role. Does the school support student inclusiveness, especially when there is a student from a different culture? Do the teachers offer more support during the transition period? Is the student well cared for and assessed emotionally to rule out any issues arising out of the change? Sensitivity to transition can make a huge difference and enable quick and easy adjustment for the student. Some international schools like the Canadian International School have on campus “Buddy Programmes” where every new student is paired with an old one. The idea is to forge friendships so that no new student feels out of place.
Environment at home
Many parents ensure that the child is well informed about the ensuing changes before the move. By letting the child know where, when and why the family is moving, parents can build trust with the child. A sudden change of environment with no prior warning can upset a child - young or old. Even after the move, make sure that the child is asked about how he/she is feeling and resolve any issues that could be troubling him/ her.
Leaving a well-known environment of school friends and teachers and proving oneself again in a new school can be scary. When moving to a different country, the transition can be even more complicated with new language and cultural norms. All these changes can be pretty daunting, but can also be great learning experiences. Setting realistic expectations and providing a safe and secure learning environment at home and at school can make the process filled with less of anxiety and more of exploration and learning.
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