What if a school is just not the best fit for your child?

 Dr Ginni Mansberg and Jo Lamble advise, ‘If you’re considering changing schools, then do lots of research.’

What if a school is just not the best fit for your child?

Sometimes a particular school is just not the right place for your child. Your teen could be refusing to go to school every day because they’re deeply unhappy with something about the school. Maybe there’s too much or not enough emphasis on sport or music or art? Perhaps it’s too pressured for them because the cohort is very academic? They might not feel as if they fit in with their classmates because of their background or interests or personality.

We don’t want to allow our children to change schools simply because they are a little disgruntled or particularly if a friend happens to be moving schools. However, because the problem of school refusal can become huge, it’s better to look at all the options before it does. Most importantly, what doesn’t your child like about the school? Because some things can be easily addressed. A lot of schools offer the option of taking some subjects outside the school. Likewise, some extracurricular activities, such as sport, music and drama, can be arranged outside school. If there is too much pressure, is the school able to reassure your child that they don’t need to perform at an elite level? Or does the school agree that your child might be better suited to a less pressured environment?

James Kozlowski stresses that parents need to consider whether they are too fixated on a school’s reputation. He says that research shows that there is greater disparity in teacher quality within a school than between schools. He also believes that moving schools can sometimes undermine the building of resilience, which is an undervalued quality. Obviously, if your child is really struggling at a particular school and they desperately want to change schools, they won’t be building resil­ience by staying there. Therefore, it’s essential that you (or the treatment team) find out what is behind their refusal to go to school.

If you’re considering changing schools, then do lots of research. It’s obviously easier to know what to look for once you understand why your child has been unhappy. Be honest with your child about financial concerns so that they understand they might not simply be able to move to a non-government school. And out-of-area trans­fers can also be hard to achieve so they need to be patient while you explore all the options.

The new Teen Age cover small

Extract from The New Teen Age by Dr Ginni Mansberg and Jo Lamble. (Murdoch Books RRP $32.99) How to support today’s tweens and teens to become healthy, happy adults.

Being a parent of a teenager can be daunting. How do we help them navigate the modern world while keeping them safe and happy? Their physical and psychological changes throw up a while range of issues that we aren’t always equipped to handle. Here, finally, is a practical and direct guide for parents that covers the lot. Phew! Amanda Keller OAM
(Amanda is an Australian television and radio presenter, comedian, writer, actor, journalist and media personality, best known as the host of the popular Australian lifestyle program The Living Room.)