Changing schools can be very difficult for many teens. Going from a public school to a private school has its own unique differences. Being at a vulnerable age where all sorts of changes and anxieties are already taking place, here is some helpful advice on how to help make things a little easier on everyone.
One of the most important things you can do for your child is to be there for them. Reassure them that all of the things they are feeling are perfectly normal. Share some stories from your school days. Keep an open line of communication between you and your teen. Don’t make light of their feelings or disregard them. Things that may seem petty to you could be important to your child. Make them feel that they can turn to you when they need to talk.
Talk with your teen about things they are concerned about. Are they upset because they have friends they are leaving behind? Make plans that enable them to keep in contact with old friends and stick to them. Encourage them to make new friends. While one of the complaints might be that a private school has fewer students, reassure them that there are still friends to be made. If one of the reasons for changing to a private school is because of the company they had been keeping and severing those friendship ties, try to be supportive of them as they adjust to their new environment.
Give your child as much control over the things that they can control within reason. For example, maybe they have options in class choices, wardrobe, lunch hours, lunch choices. Giving your child some control and input allows them to feel more confident and active in the decisions that are being made concerning them.
Encourage them to join school activities. Maybe they like to play baseball or football, help them to seek out opportunities to do something they have enjoyed at their previous public school. Reassure them that private schools also have activities that they have enjoyed doing in the past and that this is also a great way for them to meet new friends that share some of the same interests.
Point out the positive aspects of a private school. There are generally smaller class sizes, more individualized attention and less competition. Use this opportunity to point out the positives and help them learn coping skills which will help them later in life when adjusting to changes.
Be patient with your teen and watch them for signs of stress. Signs of stress can be exhibited by irritable behavior, not wanting to talk, changes in behavior, abnormal changes. These are just some ways stress can manifest and you should be vigilant in noticing all changes in your teen’s behavior. While some stress is to be expected, pay careful attention if these signs of stress seem to persist beyond the first few weeks.
Kids are very resilient and most adapt real well in time. Knowing that you are there for them and that you understand what they are going through can do wonders to help them as they transition from public to private school.