I have been thinking about our school situation for a while and am interested in some other opinions. My children (elementary school) currently attend a small Montessori school close to home (close enough to walk) and they enjoy school very much. They like their friends ,teachers, the programs, and they seem happy there. I, however, am a bit lukewarm for a few reasons (the classroom vibe I get when I’ve been there, limited facilities and co-curriculars) that are increasing as the years go on and I spend a bit more time there. I have looked into other options and I think my first choices for the children would require commuting 30 -45 minutes one way in traffic (two dropoffs because they are single sex schools and I have both daughters and a son). The schools have more to offer in the way of facilities, teams, clubs, academic and co-curricular programs and would take them through high school. I do believe that these schools are ones where I would like the children to end up for high school so they could get there on their own in a few years.
I realize this doesn’t give the whole picture, but would you move your children to a school much farther away because you thought it was better (and it's possible that it won't be) even though your children would be very happy to stay put? Or do you think you'd stay while they were happy and transfer them when they are older and could travel on their own? that has its own challenges in terms of usual entry points at the different schools and the stages they would be at for a change....I know a change is coming just not exactly sure when.
What age does their current school go through?
Is there any way you can move closer to the other school in a couple of years?
How old are your kids, and would you consider transferring at a certain age (like after 4th grade) or as a group (we all switch THIS year)?
With just what you've said, I'd keep them at the close school they like for now. They are happy and it's easier for you, so why rock the boat before you have to?
(no school is perfect, so I'd focus on the good parts of where they are until the time comes to make the change)
but everything has pros and cons
I, however, am a bit lukewarm for a few reasons (the classroom vibe I get when I’ve been there, limited facilities and co-curriculars) that are increasing as the years go on and I spend a bit more time there.
The schools have more to offer in the way of facilities, teams, clubs, academic and co-curricular programs and would take them through high school.
I'm wondering how significant your dc are finding the lack of facilities and co-curriculars, and whether the situation can be improved at all.
Are the teachers struggling to deliver curriculum because of the limited facilities? Creative instructors can get around the absence of computer resources and science lab equipment particularly in the early grades, if that's the sort of thing you are concerned about. If the teachers are coping well and the students are happy and learning, that counts for a lot. The best equipped schools can't compare to a happy, thriving school community even if it doesn't have the most up-to-date facilities.
Is the school open to parent involvement to develop some teams and clubs and co-curriculars? This could be an opportunity to develop the school community. I organized a debate club when DS was in middle school. A friend ran the drama club at her DS's school and every year they mounted a terrific production.
Alternatively, can your children participate in some extra-curriculars to replace what they don't get at school? An advantage of extra-curriculars outside school is that they widen a child's social network, so there is an additional benefit.
If you know a change is inevitable, I agree with Linda that it's nice to do it at natural transition points like the start of late elementary (here it's 4th grade) or middle school (6 or 7th grade).
I personally would NOT move them unless you feel the education they are getting now is so bad that your children will be far behind when they move on, or if you can no longer afford it.
As a mother of a child who had to change schools, I can tell you the children suffer greatly when they have to leave a familiar environment and their friends. It is not always easy to for "older" kids to make new friends. By grade 3 the cliques are often well established and most children don't like being the "new kid" anymore. Also it is really nice to have a school that is walking distance. In our case we had to change schools because the situation of the first school was really terrible. In your case it seems the old adage "don't fix it if it is not broken" would apply.Just my opinion.
As a mother of a child who had to change schools, I can tell you the children suffer greatly when they have to leave a familiar environment and their friends. It is not always easy to for "older" kids to make new friends. .. In your case it seems the old adage "don't fix it if it is not broken" would apply.Just my opinion.
How kids cope with change varies a great deal. Some suffer, some don't. I do think that the happier a child is in the first situation, the more difficult the switch.
I also think there are natural breaks where kids get mixed up with kids from other schools, such as the start of middle school and high school, and that if possible, it would be better to wait for such a break.
I also think how easy it is to make friends in new situations really varies. We've moved several times, and some groups are really open, and some aren't. My kids changed schools last year in 7th and 8th grade, and I wouldn't have chose to move kids at the point BUT we had to move for DH's job. The new school is small and some of the kids have been there since preschool. None the less, they quickly made friends and were included. It really depends on the situation.
but I agree that if it ain't broken, don't fix it.
but everything has pros and cons
I agree with the other posters. Unless the education they are getting at their current school is terrible, or it's unsafe, or they're being bullied (or all of the above!) I really wouldn't give up the convenience of a school closeby. Plus, your kids are *happy*! That's so important.
I'm coming at it from a different angle. We moved DS from a school very closeby (5 minutes walk!) with great facilities and a great reputation to a school further away (15 minutes bike ride) with a much less stellar reputation because he was so unhappy in his old school. He didn't fit in with the other kids and was sad. He's *happy* at his current school, and for the elementary school years, I think enjoying going to school is important. We keep an eye on what he's learning and fill in at home as necessary.
Well, yes I would commute to get my kid to a more appropriate school (and I do) but it would have to be significantly better for my individual child. I can tell you from experience that commutes can really grate on a family. Your personal expectations of a school can rise to unrealistic levels when you have to sit in traffic every morning to get there. The friend issue is different. We're used to our kids friends being scattered all over but I tell you, it's NOT convienient. If your children enjoy unstructured time with friends, consider the difference between having friends in town or the next town over and only having friends 30 to 40 minutes away. Your connections to other parents is different. If anything pops up (like a car breaking down, a meeting lasting too long, ect) you don't neccessarily have anyone to call and say "hey, can you grab my kid and drop them home on your way?" You have to consider where your child's activities are going to be. Since my kids activities are all 30 minutes away (we live in a rural pocket of a large county) it doesn't so much matter. What we lose is time because it's not worth the gas coming home after high school lets out at 2 and rehearsal is at 3:30.... lots of waiting around. I'm not saying that commutes are never worth it.... it's just complicated and the younger they are the longer you are signed on to do it, the more complicated it can be. So, I'm grateful we did elementary and middle locally because while the high school thing is rough, we at least know it's short term. I suspect we'll be doing it again when my DS (just entering middle) goes off to high school but we'll cross that road when we get there.
Schools are more than clubs, facilities, teams, ect. We've found that while schools can have lots of these things, the quality isn't neccessarily the level your child needs. My kids elementary and middle schools had lots of theatre classes and clubs but they were never part of it because they were used to a much higher level of instruction and a much more focused peer group in their youth theatre. My kids did some of the sports teams but most the kids REALLY into sports aren't part of school teams until high school because they aren't as good as the club programs. My DS has a great singing voice but he doesn't sing in the elementary school choir because "I don't sing in front of jerks" meaning he doesn't want some of the other boys knowing he's talented. Don't move to an elementary because you think the high school will be a good fit. You really have no idea what school will be a good fit 8 years from now.
This school you are thinking might very well be worth it but really consider whether it's good enough for your kids to lose an hour a day in the car (more if they have to go back to school for concerts and special events,) to have very little in reguards to local friends, to lose that local parent support, ect.
I used to worry about this a lot. I don't anymore.
My DS just finished high school, and he's attended 9 different schools over his lifetime. For DD, who just started high school, it's 7. That's not counting the homeschooling we've done as well. Most of the changes have been due to moving homes/jobs, but in some cases they switched programs. They don't love changing schools and leaving their friends, unless it's a normal transition - eg. middle school to high school. They don't "suffer greatly" either, though.
Changing schools has widened their circle of friends, broadened their experiences, taught them that they can survive and even thrive in new situations. It's helped develop their flexibility, resilience and tolerance. Each change required preparation and parental support. We had to work through some adjustments. There's a feeling of loss, but also an excitement and anticipation with each change. They definitely didn't suffer.
Sometimes, we don't give our children credit for how strong and resilient they are and how much they enjoy new experiences.
In my earlier post, I tended to support the decision to stay put. I wouldn't fear a decision to change, though, if there was a strong case for it.
This is me as well. My youngest moved to a new school in 1st grade no problem. He is eager to move to a specialized charter even though it means he'll have to leave his current middle school in 7th or 8th grade (if he wins the lottery.) My eldest moved to a new grade with all new kids mid-year, no problem. My eldest also chose a high school outside of our district that included no one she's ever schooled with before, no problem. She's even thinking of moving again to a 11th/12th grade program.
It really depends on the child, the circumstances and how the family approaches it. My own kids do really well in school but they don't have emotional ties to it. Their quality friends are all outside of school. They'd be REALLY upset if we left the state but moving to a new school campus is really no big deal. It's only done as an improvement. It's just a place to learn.