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Is it Time to Change Schools?

When is enough, enough? Making the difficult decision to switch your child's school


by Katie Lillard


Empty classroom

There are so many things for a parent to consider when deciding on a school for their child. A school’s academic rigor, learning supports, extracurricular resources, environment, and community culture all play a part in the overall experience available to a child and their family. All of these factors inevitably contribute to how well-suited a particular school is for a child. For parents with more than one child, the added challenge of finding the right school for multiple personalities can be overwhelming. After carefully weighing and prioritizing options and educational values, parents hope that enrolling their child in a school will satisfy their educational and social needs for anywhere from three to twelve years.


But what if the school doesn’t turn out to be the right fit for your child? When is it time to make a change?


After all the careful consideration that proceeded enrolling your child in a particular school, the idea of starting the process again is daunting. And now there’s more at stake. As with any transition, in making a major change to routine, parents risk disturbing their child’s sense of security and well-being. Here are some criteria to help ascertain the appropriate time to remove a child from an educational setting that isn’t working. 


1. Social Withdrawal


Student with learning difference feels withdrawn from peers in a traditional school. She rests her head on a desk and stares blankly at the camera.

Social withdrawal can manifest from several different factors. Seek an evaluation from your child’s pediatrician or mental health provider as a first step to screen for underlying clinical conditions like anxiety or depression. A trusted medical professional can advise a treatment plan which may include changing school environments. Many students with predispositions to social anxiety or students who have developed social anxiety as a result of bullying feel more supported in smaller environments that will not tolerate bullying.


2. Cessation of Progress

Stop light with blue sky behind it.

Schools exist to foster children’s academic growth and social/emotional intelligence. If your child’s current school is unable to make adjustments to nurture that growth, it may be time to switch schools. Again, seeking evaluations and specialized testing from your pediatrician or a psychologist is an important jumping-off point for uncovering underlying causes for delays in growth, like learning differences or physical impairments in vision or hearing. 


In the absence of physical impairments or learning disabilities, your child may be seeking a more challenging curriculum or flexible learning that aligns with their interests. Finding a student-led or accelerated learning option may reignite their interest and growth. 


3. School Refusal


Student refusing to get out of bed for school in the morning.

If your child refuses to get out of bed or on the bus or frequently feigns illness, they are likely unhappy at school. Speak with their teacher, counselor, or school administrators to better understand what is happening on campus. Use that information to help you find a better fit moving forward. 



Wye River Upper School offers tailored education to students with learning differences in grades 8 through 12 in a small, inclusive environment. For more information, contact our admissions office at 443-262-8267. Find out if Wye River Upper School is the right place for your child.



Two happy students smiling and engaged in their science experiment in a classroom.

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