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  • Writer's pictureVicky Keston

Transferring to Private School: What next?

You’ve applied to and were accepted to private school and will be transferring in 1st-8th grade. What is next? How do you prepare? In the fall of 2019, my children transferred from a public school to a private school, and after we accepted, I had these same questions. How would my kids adjust? Would they need any prep? What’s the best way for them to make friends? If you’re still in the decision mode, read about how and whether to apply in this blog article.

How can we meet friends?

After admissions, while waiting for events to start, I became nervous about my children making friends, especially if there were few other new kids for a transfer. I needn’t have worried, but this is what parents do! The best solution was from enrolling my child in a summer camp with other kids from the new school’s grade; I reached out to a parent at the school, and she recommended a week. In addition, posting in the private school Facebook group can help turn up potential play dates. During the new school year, volunteering on a committee of interest can also help meet people. Lastly, my kids have asked to stay in touch with their closest friends from public school. It’s not been simple with a pandemic, but we have periodically scheduled zooms with them and had the kids exchange emails.

What will it be like for a public school kid transfering in at 1st - 8th grade?

The first thing that I noticed when we started private school, the relative abundance of resources. For instance, at the class-wide parent coffee, I asked who staffs lunch and recess, wondering if parent volunteers are needed. The answer, they have enough staff in house to cover breaks. Similarly, when I asked about school supplies, each teacher has a budget.

Behavior management was also important to us. At that same coffee, they explained how they work with kids after disputes or other issues. Our private school had a method to work with kids, in proportion to the issue, whereas our public school had limitations based on district policies, and levels of bureaucracy to make decisions.

At an independent school, bureaucracy is nonexistent. Generally, the head of the lower or middle school is the go to person if a teacher has a question, and the head of school focuses on big picture issues. In a practical sense, this means if a child needs, for instance, more advanced math, the teacher and lower/middle school head figure out what is the best solution, no central office math department, Board of Education, or Chief Academic Officer.

Should my child prepare academically for their new school?

Given the unusual nature of the pandemic, with public schools only returning to in person learning recently and only for certain grades, ask yourself if your child is at grade level or has lost ground during distance learning. You can check in with your new school to see if there’s a year-end test or summer packet your child can review. If you feel your child will need catching up, it might help to sign up for an online course or use a summer tutor; however, I would encourage families to wait for input from the new school so that your child is not unnecessarily stressed over the summer.

I didn’t share about my child’s IEP/504/special needs

It is important to share your child’s needs with admissions. The worst thing is not a rejection or a pulling of an acceptance, but your child being at a school that does not meet their needs. Further, with more information about your child’s needs, the school can plan for your child and provide resources. While it was easier to hide special needs during a distance application process, the right thing for your child is to discuss the situation now so that you ensure a smooth transition.

What will I miss?

We miss our friends. My children had close friends in public school, and while they’ve made new close friends, they still like their old friends! As a parent, it takes time to build community, so if you were many years in a public school, it takes time to have that level with a new school. Our ideal, keep the old friends while adding new.

Need more help?

Vicky consults with families to help select public and private schools in San Francisco in an environment of non-judgment. Her own children have attended both public and private schools, and she believes that each has unique benefits. Email to learn more about her services.

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