How Children Adapt to Change – What do you think?

 

In the community where I live, our school district is made up of 2 Neighborhood Elementary Schools, one middle school and one high school. In December our school board voted to eliminate the 2 neighborhood schools and convert them each to Grade Level Schools. If you are unfamiliar with both terms, let me explain. Neighborhood schools are schools that serve a particular neighborhood. Children who live closest to their neighborhood school will attend that school. The current neighborhood school that my girls attend is Grades K-5. The other neighborhood school in our district also serves grades K-5. After this school year one school will serve all of K-2 regardless of where in the district you live and the other will serve grades 3-5. The school board’s vote was 3-2 regardless of the many parents who pleaded and spoke their heart to leave things the way they were.

Right now there is a huge debate going on within our district. A group of parents have come together to make a legal appeal to this decision. They are circulating petitions and have even filed a grievance to have the decision overturned.

What it really comes down to (and what no one is really saying) is that the parents in one neighborhood don’t want their kids to mix with the children in the other neighborhood. I live in the “other” neighborhood. I’ve been here for almost 10 years and until this year I never knew that an “us vs them” mentality even existed. So, my house is not as big as yours so you don’t want your kids to socialize with mine? So, my school has more under privileged children who attend than yours does and you don’t want “them” to bring your children down? It’s ridiculous.

But, I digress. One argument that parents are using to make to appeal this decision is that children who have to transition to another school between 2nd and 3rd grade do not do well with that change. I have never had to deal with this so I’m not sure how I feel. What type of school do your children go to? Are any of your schools set up like Grade Level Schools? Have your children had a hard time transitioning to another school after 2nd grade?

If I had my way, I’d keep things the way they are and my feelings have nothing to do with the socio-economic status of anybody. I live a half a mile from our elementary school. I wait outside the school every day at pick-up for my girls to come out. I socialize with the parents of my children’s classmates whom I’ve gotten to know and become good friends with because of this daily routine. I don’t have to put my girls on a bus and wonder if anything “off” will take place at any given time. It’s a real sense of community we have because of how the schools are currently set up. I’m bummed it’s going to change but it really doesn’t matter how I feel or what I think. I just wonder how it will impact my oldest daughter who will now be facing this change next year.  She’s excited about the change. A new school, woo hoo! lol She’ll get to ride a bus. Double woo-hoo! (in her opinion) I just wonder if it’s in the children’s best interest…….

I’d love any feedback that anyone might have into a similar situation or even any encouragement about it. I know that my daughter’s life and future is in God’s hands and I can find comfort in that at least. 🙂

Thanks for letting me share something that has absolutely nothing to do with crafting. 🙂

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XOXO
Diana
www.thegirlcreative.com

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18 Comments

  1. We are a military family and we move every 2-4 years. My kids have learned to adjust and they make friends easily. Kids are resilient. Change is hard but God will see you all through it! Blessings!

  2. As a former (high school) teacher and parent, I’d vote for the neighborhood school. There’s a lot of research that kids do better in smaller schools than larger ones because it’s harder to fall through the cracks. It sounds like the size of the schools won’t be all that different, but the size of the grades will be…I don’t know how big a difference that makes.

    If it we me, as a parent, I’d want the neighborhood school, for all the reasons you listed…the sense of community, being able to pick kids up easily, etc. I love living close to our school and wouldn’t want to put my kids on the bus. (But I live across the street from the one and only elementary in our tiny district and most of the kids bus because they live in the surrounding farmland.)

    Those transitions can be an issue for some kids, although most will deal with them fine. The transitions are a bigger issue for at risk kids.

    Good luck! It’s hard when something this divisive comes up in a community.

  3. Oh Diana, I have tons of feed back! Like LeighAnn, you know I’m military. We move every 3-4 years, and my kids adjust WELL. As you know. However, I’ve seen a few incidents like what you’re talking about, so I’ll share what I have.

    When we were stationed in Louisiana, the on post grade schools were set up like what you’re describing, grades pre-K thru first was in one school, and 2nd thru 4th was in another school. My children personally didn’t make the big transition because my daughter was in 3rd grade when we got there, and my son was in kindergarten, but we pulled him out in 1st grade to homeschool. So they didn’t make that 1st to 2nd grade school jump. However, everyone I had talked to about it said their children adjusted just fine. Maybe it’s military brat blood, I don’t know, but kids are almost always adaptable. The reason they AREN’T adjusting well is because their parents put all their negative feelings onto the kids and don’t let the kids think for themselves.

    Another situation that has happened recently is the addition of a fifth 1st grade teacher in Hunter’s school this year. The majority of parents were very happy with their current teachers, and scared at the thought of their child moving to a new class with a teacher they didn’t know (like we don’t all do that every year anyway). Hunter’s teacher said that all four 1st grade teachers were stalked and yelled at and people threatened to pull their children from the school if their child was moved to the new teacher’s class. The principal dealt with phone calls non-stop for a month while she was interviewing new teachers. Again, like I said, kids will adjust if you just let them. If you let them know that this is a new adventure, and that we should look at new adventures with positive attitudes and pray about them, then the kids will most likely be find. However, all these parents created such anxiety in the kids that the kids had a hard time focusing in school. I love Hunter’s teacher, am the room mom, and also teach her daughter in gymnastics, so I really didn’t want him to move. But I never once said a word to him about it. God has a reason, so if Hunter were to be moved, then God had His reasons.

    Also, a few years ago, the year before we moved here, our school district made the decision to put 5th grade in middle school. If we lived here, I’d be furious because Louisa’s class was the first to enter MS as a 5th grader. 5th grade is TOO young to be in MS, and on top of that they ride the buses with the high schoolers! The parents here put up a huge stink about it, and from what I understand things were similar to what you’re describing in your neighborhood. The school district must have reasons for these drastic changes. I don’t know what, but somehow this balances out.

    Sorry so long 🙂 Love you and praying for you guys! I’m so sorry you are on “that” side, but you are where God put you!

  4. In our school district, we have one set of grade-level schools (the ones in town) – and seven community schools, out in the “country” surrounding the town.
    I live AND teach in one of the country (community) schools. Our school is K-8, and I can tell you that we have dozens and dozens of families every year, requesting to transfer out to our school from town (as do the other community schools). Parents LOVE the idea of having ALL of their kids (or at least several at a time) in the same school at the same time. Makes things much easier as far as drop off/pick up, being able to volunteer at ONE place, knowing older siblings are there to look out for younger ones, etc.

    The benefit to the grade level schools is that ALL of the teachers for one grade level are together – and can therefore plan together, collaborate more, ability group more easily … things like that. From a teacher’s perspective, it is probably easier this way — and you definitely have more support. However, I wouldn’t trade my community school for anything. Not having other teachers at my grade level to collaborate with is a small price to pay for the close-knit, family-focussed atmosphere we have.

    I have 8th graders who come in every afternoon to read with my kinder cuties — often times, their younger brothers or sisters! It is awesome.

    If I were you, I would want to keep things the same way, too …. but regardless, your kids will do GREAT. I can only assume your school district’s decision is based on what they truly believe is best for the students. … Just have to focus on the positives in this new situation! Good luck! 🙂
    ~Bec

  5. I think kids transition better than we think they will. That being said, adding unnecessary transitions into their school years seems silly. What is their reasoning behind the change? What about all the families that now have to get their 2nd grader, 4th grader and 6th grader to 3 separate schools in the morning? This seems strange to me.

  6. I think you have the most important thing at heart- everything’s in God’s hands 🙂 And as long as you project that positive attitude to your children, they should be just fine.

    Being (yet another!) military family, and we’ve even sometimes moved twice within one year, and kids adjust just fine! As LeighAnn said above, kids are resilient (probably more resilient than us adults sometimes!!) 🙂

    While some situations are of course child specific, in general I think change can largely depend on how parents handle the situation. From what you’ve shared, you almost answered your own question- Your daughter’s excited about the change! It seems that it’s mostly the parents in the towns that aren’t excited about the change… I think you probably hit the nail on the head- this excuse of “2-3 grade kids don’t adjust well” maybe just a cover up for what they really feel. :/

    I grew up in a mile and a half square town… went to elementary and middle school with the same 47 kids, so I, like you, really enjoyed the feeling and community of the smaller neighborhood schools. Parents waiting to pick up kids, no school bus, in middle school we even walked home on nice days! We then had 7-10 neighborhood school districts going to the same high school. Now that was a HUGE change for me- middle school to high school!!

    As long as class sizes stay the same as they currently are, even though the overall grade sizes will be increasing, it doesn’t seem that it would be detrimental to the children…. However if class size, and thus student to teacher ratio greatly changes, then that could be a very valid argument against the change, as it could be detrimental to learning. Otherwise, much of the transitioning would likely only be done really in that first year that they’d change over to the new grade level schools, with new teachers and kids being introduced at each grade level, and for some, a switch in school building. It sounds like the kids would still be going to school with their same current friends in their grade level, they’ll just be getting even more kids to be friends with in their grade! And they’ll still be transitioning from the K-2 school up to the 3-5 school with all those same friends- no different than when transitioning from your middle school to high school.

    Again, I think you really have it right- God’s got it taken care of already 🙂 It may be a bummer that you won’t have that same sense of community, and it’s a bummer that some parents have an “us vs. them” mentality, but just keep your eyes on Him and you and your children will get through this change A-OK! 🙂 Cherish the time that you had the great community of neighborhood schools and now you can look forward to some of the new opportunities that await with grade level schools- hey, if your children make new friends, maybe you’ll make new parent friends too!! 🙂

    Good luck, and God bless 🙂

  7. I was really worried about my youngest adjusting to a new school this year (3rd grade), but he has pleasantly surprised me with how well he’s doing.
    Our district has Kindergarten in one school, 1st & 2nd grades in another school, 3rd through 5th in yet another building, 6th through 8th in the Middle School, and then of course 9-12 in the High School. Our kids are ever-changing and resilient. It sounds like your daughter will do well, considering her positive attitude toward the situation.
    I just hope and pray that the incoming kids don’t bring along their parents’ perspective and inflict it upon your children.
    All the best to you and your family. I look forward to reading your post in the fall with a glowing report of how well it’s going. 🙂

  8. They did that in a neighboring area when we were in Florida and I had several clients affected. They actually loved it, as 5th graders can look a little big and scary to a K. We were in a neighborhood school that was under-occupied so a school 10 miles away was overcrowded and those students were bused in. There was an uproar from some parents (again socio-eco reasons), but I found some of the parents that were most concerned over their child’s welfare and involved came from that school. My children didn’t even bat an eye at the new students-to them, they were just kids like them going to school.

  9. I think that children are very good at change like this and the fact that she’s excited about it will help the transition. Plus she won’t be going thru the change alone, all the children will be going thru some sort of change.

  10. I think that children will pick up on however the parents are handling the situation. If you tell your kids that this change is happening and you don’t like it for whatever reason, then they will not like it either. If you tell them some great changes are coming for them and it will be wonderful to meet kids from other parts of town and make new friends, that’s the attitude they will adopt. I grew up in the military and we moved to a new school every couple of years. We met so many different people and had so many new life experiences and it was always good. If you project your negative attitude onto your children, they will pick it up and share it. That goes for a positive attitude too, so let’s hope all the parents make it a positive change for the kids.

    MGM

  11. I am so sorry you are going through this. It seems like it is out of your hands though and, whatever the outcome your kids will be fine because they have you! What’s up with those well-off parents?!?! That whole us/them thing is so wrong! Isn’t it awesome you can blog about it though and receive some support! This is a big deal and I understand wanting to get your feelings out there.

  12. As a future teacher, I am not looking forward to these types of changes and battles, but I know they’re coming. I think that the kids will adapt remarkably well! As much of an upheaval as it seems to the parents (and undoubtedly the teachers), as long as the negative feelings aren’t projected to the children, the change should be met well. I am sorry that these kinds of changes happen! So often, the school system thinks more about the system itself than the students.

    Allyson
    http://cupcakescandycanes.blogspot.com

  13. I have been teaching 25 years and have seen these kinds of changes many times in my own district and where I teach. The parents always worry more than they should. The kids do absolutely fine and soon it is all forgotten. I’m not sure who starts all the concern, but it really is unfounded. Good luck

  14. That is how our school system is set up. We have a lower ele and an upper ele. However the schools are side by side and we are a really small town. The kids do fine when they “move up” to the other school.

  15. Our local school district has been going through a lot of changes. Neighborhood schools were closed one by one. They kept redistricting too (even when there wasn’t a closure to account for). They added uniforms. Then they planned to turn the schools into grade-level schools. This change was to come just before my youngest was to start kindergarten. I had looked so forward to having both girls in the same school and being involved more. They also consolidated the high schools and middle schools into one of each. This meant that, down the road when my girls reached high school age, they would be facing a long bus ride (at least an hour each way). I wanted stability and accessibility.

    We applied to the neighboring district. Due to county and school district lines, their schools are closer than most of those in our own district. We were accepted and required to attend an orientation type of meeting. I actually sat in my car and cried afterward. That school was so much of what I remembered of my own school days. Small, friendly, welcoming, and dedicated. This is our second year there and both my girls are thriving. Their classes are smaller, and it’s K-6. My oldest is in 5th grade, but when she moves up to 7th, that building is only next door. We are much more involved. Plus it’s on my way to work, so I get to drive them every morning. It’s a much smaller school district and more rural, but they offer my girls so many more opportunities.

    Unfortunately our local district has seen a loss of over 2000 students since making all these changes. It’s suffering and that is sad. But even sadder to me, is that it is the district I attended and loved as a child. It just isn’t the same as it used to be.

  16. Thank you so much to everyone for your words of encouragement and for sharing your stories with me. :)My girls have never had problems making friends (even at the park they find friends quickly) so I know they will be okay. What has everyone (including myself) upset is that our board of education led the community and the parents to believe that our voices mattered. They encouraged attendance at the BOE meetings. Parent after parent stood up and wrote letters asking them to reconsider their plans and even one board member admitted that they did not have sufficient information to back up their plans for the change and yet they voted in favor of the change. None of the board members have children that will affected. It’s been a real big mess. The local papers have covered the story a few times. Even a district close by is going back to Neighborhood schools after having changed to Grade Level Schools year back. By making this change,11 positions within our district will be eliminated. It’s just been a huge mess all around. But, I’m trusting God that He knows best. 🙂 Thank you again for letting me bounce this off of you!

  17. I’m quite cynical when it comes to politicians of ANY kind. I just don’t truly believe that they *actually* care about our voices and what’s best for us. In the end, they’re out for themselves. 🙁

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