Making a Mid-Year Transition Isn’t as Tough as You Think, and it Could Be Just What Your Child Needs

Remember those goals you and your child set back in August for the coming school year? The ones that encompassed both academic and behavioral expectations? The advent of a mid-year break – and the pending arrival of a new school term – is the ideal time to assess just how much progress has been made towards those goals. It may also be your last effective chance to make more substantial adjustments, including transferring to a school better equipped to fulfill your child’s particular needs.

While you’ve probably heard horror stories regarding the perils of transitioning a child into a new school mid-way through the year, the truth is that if things aren’t going well now, it’s unlikely they’ll go any better next semester – especially if your child has received consistently concerning reports or has established a pattern of behavioral or academic issues that may be difficult for him/her to overcome in the remaining weeks and months of the school year.

Rather than focus on the potential negatives of a situation like this, however, consider adopting a pro-active approach – one designed to generate the best possible chances for your child to get back on track. Such an approach may be as straightforward as arranging personal conferences with each of his/her teachers and coaches, then generating academic and/or behavioral support plans that provide your child with the structure, guidance and opportunity to finish the year on a positive note. This kind of plan might include regular tutoring sessions in “problem” subjects, as well as regular meetings with a counselor or family therapist.

If you think that the situation requires more than tutorial or counseling support, however (or if you’ve already implemented this kind of plan and it’s not having the desired effect), you may want to consider a more substantive change – namely, transferring your child to a school specifically designed to address his/her particular behavioral, emotional and academic needs.

Like most parents who have found themselves in this situation, your immediate reaction to such a suggestion is probably absolute reluctance. But it’s well worth considering the benefits – not to mention the potential long-term rewards in terms of your child’s personal growth, development and ultimate well-being.

Emotional growth, or therapeutic, boarding schools are schools specifically created to serve struggling students and their families. As well as ensuring each student meets his/her grade-level academic requirements, these schools spend a great deal of time, energy and resource on the “whole student.” In other words, professional and certified faculty members provide mentoring, guidance and experiences designed to facilitate your child’s emotional and/or physical recovery – be it from personal or family-related trauma, improper substance use or other behavioral issues.

Because these schools require full-time residence for a specified period of time (from a few months to an entire year), they are particularly effective for students who are finding it hard to thrive in a regular school environment. And because they’re exclusively devoted to students in need of additional support, they also provide an environment that’s often more structured and better balanced than at home. Parents who make the decision to send their child to a therapeutic boarding school also discover that the experience greatly improves their own relationship with their child – not least because most school programs include resources, counseling and mediation designed to help that relationship thrive.

If you’ve considered this type of program for your child in the past – then decided to “give it one more year” with your current school, your concern over initiating a mid-year transfer may be what’s holding you back. But therapeutic schools are accustomed to accommodating new students throughout the year – even mid-term or mid-semester – and because most have a “rolling” curriculum, making the transition won’t be as difficult for your child as you might think: the majority of schools have an established protocol for introducing a new student into their program regardless of point in time. After all, their primary concern – like yours – is giving your child an opportunity to thrive, before it’s too late.