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Transitioning from Parochial to Public School

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: Is there a preferred time to transition a child from a parochial school to a public school? I'm trying to decide if my fifth-grade daughter should make the transition to the new school in sixth grade or wait until high school?

A: Transition to a new school is never easy, and it can be even more difficult when a child moves from one level to another. It's very important to talk with your child and make sure that she plays an important part in this decision.

If several elementary schools feed into the middle school, your child would not be the only "new" student next year. She would be able to become accustomed to the new school environment along with other students who are having the same experience. Plus, she would develop friendships making the transition to high school easier. And she would have the opportunity to get into sports, music, and other activities that she could continue in high school.

In making this decision, consider if your daughter is ready to handle more responsibility next year. In middle school, students have several teachers and will not have the direction, guidance, and support that elementary teachers provide. Will your child do well in a larger, more impersonal school? Or would she be more ready for high school with three additional years in the smaller, more supportive, elementary-school environment?

If your daughter continues in parochial school until high school, you will need to think about the social consequences of this decision. Will some of her friends be following this path so she sees some friendly faces and doesn't feel totally alone? Can she make new friends easily?

Some middle schools and high schools have excellent transition programs. One of these programs, plus your support, will make it much easier for your child whenever she moves to the public-school system.

More on: Expert Advice

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.


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