Dilemma of moving children to new schools

Grace Wachira @yaa_grace

The New Year is here with us and new chapters will be opened in the lives of many children. Some will be going to new schools for various reasons such as if the parent or child is unhappy or unsatisfied with the old school, if the parent’s financial circumstances change, among others. However, the transition to a new school is never easy.

For Michelle Wayua Bosco, who is a Class Eight candidate this year, the transition took place during second term last year. “She was in a Catholic institution and we are Protestants. We wanted a school that is within our religious beliefs.

Also she wasn’t doing well academically, and we felt we had to do something,” her mother, Stella Bosco says. And so, Michelle was taken to boarding school. “She used to attend a private day school. We got a public boarding school for her.

At first, it was hard for all of us. The day we left her in school, she cried bitterly. When she came back home for the holidays, she had lost weight. It was a rough patch for her, I mean, she even had to learn how to interact with other children because there was no more coming home to us in the evening. She was no longer pampered and treated the way we would do her, being our firstborn,” she recalls.

But the results were amazing. Michelle became more responsible and independent. “Michelle was sluggish when doing homework. We had to make her do it, talk to her about it, but now, she does it willingly. Now she makes her bed without being followed around and has become mature,” the proud mother beams. Her daughter has finally adjusted and now enjoys her new school.

But not all are happy to change schools and Simon Mwangi knows this too well. He changed neighbourhoods, and, therefore, had to move his eight-year-old son to a new school in January last year. “My son is not a social child.

Moving school affected him a lot. He couldn’t make friends easily and it also took a while before he got used to his new teachers. His grades went down that we almost considered taking him back to his former school. Just when we had organised how he would be commuting to his old school, we realised he had slowly adjusted and decided to give him time.

Now he is okay, but I wouldn’t consider moving him to a new school soon,” he says. Dr Peris Ndambuki, a child psychologist, says that sometimes the transition is not so smooth. “The children may not wrap their minds around what exactly is happening and they may resist change and feel stressed about changing schools,” she says.

As parents transfer their children to new schools, it is important they talk to them about it. “Let the children be involved in the decision making. It makes everything much easier and when the children agree with the parents, they even excel,” she says.

Ndambuki pointed out that systemic approach when applied works wonders. “The child may resort to anger and hatred, but by simply walking them through the why and how, they get it. Systemic approach calls for a parent to explain to a child step by step,” she cites. In some extreme cases, counselling can come in handy. “Both a parent and a child need this.

No one wants the situation to escalate, so better curb it early. All they need is understanding why they are changing schools, joining boarding or kindergarten,” she says. Harassing them into a parent/guardian’s preference will only drive a wedge between them.

Under most circumstances, your child won’t be alone in changing schools. Urge him/her to find the new students as it would be easier to make friends with them. “In short, it’s normal for your child to feel a bit nervous, but they will definitely won’t be the only one – they would be in good company.

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