This question came in form of call into a radio show I was on in September.
Caller: My son is in grade three and is part of a French Immersion program. He is asking to switch schools to attend the English program that his friends are in. Speaking French is an important value in our family and I want him to stick with the French Immersion program. Note: Additional details that were added during the call have been addressed/included in my answer.
I am sorry to hear your son is not excited about going back to school. School should be a fun experience that kids enjoy. If its not – something is amiss. A positive attitude is part of what makes a learning condition optimal, so let’s get to the heart of the problem for him and solve it.
Children in grade three have definite opinions about their school, teachers and friends. However, they are NOT capable of making decisions as significant as choosing their own school enrolment. Think of it this way; they also live in your house, but we don’t ask them to weigh in on the the mortgage renewal and whether to go fix rate or variable. It’s just NOT age appropriate. Decisions about which school to enrol your child in is complex. It’s beyond the cognitive abilities and role of a child.
Now, of course you as a parent who is deciding on our child’s education, must take into consideration the child’s input and perspective. After all, if you don’t, a child can simply exercise their choice by refusing to go to school. Even if you force them to go to school, they can still decide not to learn. Let’s avoid a passive aggressive power struggle and instead work together.
School is all about “fit”. If you pick the “best ranked school” but your child hates it – it’s not the right placement! Let them know that it’s your job to decide on their schooling and to trust you because you love them and you wouldn’t put them any place that was wrong or bad for them. That means you have to be willing to listen to what they say and read between the lines too.
He may be stressed about French immersion because it feels like hard work compared to English browse around this website. If he is accustomed to doing things well, and strives to be top of class, he may have imposed his own stress of performing well. He may be worrying if he can actually keep up at being so good and accomplished since each grade gets more challenging. Now EQAO is looming. Gulp!
So, as a momma bear, you have to be holistic. You know your son best. You know if he has high standards for himself. You know how well he can make new friends and face hurdles. Assure him that if he is unhappy and doesn’t have a good social life – you will listen and make things right for him. That may mean building courage, learning skills, switching classrooms, or, yes switching schools. It’s a complex decision for sure and not one to made in haste or by a child. Your kiddle does need to know that you are on the ball, that you have their back. Let them know you understand their concerns and that you will do what is best. It’s okay to try out a new school and decide it’s not a fit and go back to your old school. Nothing is forever! Look, see, correct. Life is an iterative process. Keep talking – keep trying.