Start your free 7-day Joon App trial

Should My Child Switch Schools? Here's How to Know

January 6, 2023
Table of Contents

    As a parent, your child's education is one of many priorities. Kids with ADHD, mental health conditions, learning disabilities, and other concerns might face numerous hurdles at school.

    Obstacles a child may run into include but aren't limited to behavior challenges, trouble making friends, or difficulties with assignments. If your child's current school isn't meeting their needs, or if your child isn't thriving where they are right now, what can you do? How do you know if it's time for your child to change schools?

    In this article, we'll talk about how to know if your child should switch schools for reasons such as a lack of academic progress or unmet concerns. Then, we'll go over how to start the process of switching to a new school and how to talk with your child about changing schools.

    Struggling to motivate your ADHD child?
    Download the Joon App and start your free 7-day trial.  
    Download App

    How to Know if Your Child Should Switch Schools

    Every student deserves to attend a school where they thrive. Various factors, like student engagement, parent-child discussions about why education matters, and access to adequate help (e.g., tutoring) when needed, are known to support classroom success and a higher grade point average. In some circumstances, changes can be made at a student's current school. In others, changing schools can be ideal.

    Whether it's due to family circumstances or a child's personal educational needs, it is no doubt that changing schools is a big decision. However, there are a ton of valid reasons why a student might benefit from switching schools. While it's by no means an extensive list, here are some reasons a parent may decide it's time for a child to change schools.

    They're unhappy at their current school

    Does your child hate school? Does your child do disruptive behaviors in the classroom? Is there another concern, like an unsanitary campus? If so, it is possible that the problem could be helped by changing schools.

    Depending on the reason for the change, a school switch might not remove the problem entirely, but a different school could be a better fit. For example, if kids have behavioral concerns, mental health support and a supportive school environment combined can make a big difference.

    Bullying issues are a very common reason why students switch schools. Whether or not this is the right anecdote can be dependent on a range of factors, but in some instances, it is incredibly important.

    You're not seeing progress

    A wide range of factors can affect a child's learning outside of their own personal work ethic. Many schools have a large class size or are not well equipped to teach kids with different learning styles. Every teacher may have up to 30 students or more. This is especially common in public school, though some private school options may share similar traits.

    Let's say that your child's current school caters to kids who are auditory learners, and there are 30 kids in the class, but your child learns best with a hands-on approach and requires a level of attention teachers can only give with a smaller class size. In that case, it is fully valid to consider that they might be better off in a different environment.

    Lessons are no longer challenging

    Every school is different. Some may pay more attention to each individual student's path to learning, keeping kids adequately challenged and engaged. Parents may choose to switch schools if the current environment can't keep up with or sufficiently engage their children.

    This might be particularly relevant if the school demonstrates that there's nothing they can do to effectively stimulate and challenge a student. There are ways for kids to get harder assignments than other students in many instances. Even so, some schools may be more able and willing than others to adjust and fully nurture a child's learning.

    The school lacks community

    Having a sense of community can make a major difference in whether or not a child has a positive experience at school. Perhaps, your child is a unique or creative soul, but their current school does not have creative clubs and other activities that would enhance your child's experience. Maybe, your child does not relate to other students, whereas they may better relate to classmates at another school. There might be a higher number of extracurricular activities and creative outlets at another school, or another way for students to build community and make friends.

    Note: Joon is a to-do app designed for children with ADHD ages 6-12 and their parents. Joon can help children learn independence, boost self-esteem, and engage in valuable daily routines. How does it work? 

    Parents sign up for the Joon Parent App first and create a custom task list for their children. Tasks can include homework, brushing teeth, or various other routine activities. Once children complete their tasks (also called quests), the child gets rewards that allow them to care for a virtual pet in Joon Pet Game. 

    90% of kids finish all the tasks their parents assign. Joon is backed by occupational therapists, teachers, and child psychologists. The app is rated an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars in the app store, with a total of over 3.6k reviews.

    Click here to try Joon for free.

    Your concerns are not being heard

    Parents should have an open line of communication with teachers, and students should be able to access what they need in order to thrive. What if you make an effort to keep that communication open and assert your child's needs to no avail?

    Maybe, your child has a learning disability, but the teacher is not allowing the accommodations in their 504 plan*, and school administrators aren't hearing your concerns. Perhaps, your child's safety or mental health is being compromised at school. For example, if a child is being bullied.

    Teachers, schools, and administrators should take these issues seriously. It is true that teachers have few resources in many spaces and are often stretched thin. At the same time, this can negatively affect children.

    If your concerns aren't being heard, it's a red flag. Parents send their students to school with great trust, and the learning environment can make a major difference in a child's school experience.

    *The United States Department of Education is responsible for enforcing the regulations on the education of students with disabilities acknowledged under Section 504. You can file a complaint with the United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, if needed to facilitate an investigation.

    Their needs aren't being met

    If a child's needs aren't met at their current school, it's a good reason to switch. Students with ADHD, learning disabilities, and other challenges, must have equal access to learning. If your child's school can't accommodate, educate, or otherwise involve your child in a way that makes sense and is positive for their learning and mental health, it makes sense to switch schools.

    Another school is a better fit

    In some cases, students switch schools simply because another school is a better fit. Other schools might have smaller class sizes, more extracurricular activities, or take a different approach to learning. Schools might have a special focus on art, music, or something else your child finds pride and enjoyment in. In that case, some students might be apt to switch not due to challenges but due to the benefits a new school brings.

    How to Start the School-Changing Process

    You've decided that switching schools is the best course of action for your student. Now what? Some steps depend on the unique school or school district your child's switching to. For example, there might be extra steps involved in changing over to a private school environment.

    Most often, for public school, steps involve:

    • Contacting the new school/school district about steps to enroll your child.
    • Notifying your child's current school district of the change.
    • Requesting your child's school records to send to the new school.

    If a child has an IEP or 504 plan, make sure to discuss it with the school administration. Often, if an IEP or 504 plan meets a child's current needs, they'll be able to maintain the same plan. Other times, modifications might need to be made to the plan. 

    Some parents decide to wait to start their child at a new school until the next school year, whereas others make the change mid-year. Regardless, emotional preparation and helping your child feel comfortable is another critical piece of the change.

    Talking to Your Child About Switching Schools

    Some kids will be glad to attend a different school. Others will be nervous or uncertain. In any case, talk to your child from the perspective that you're on the same team. If it's likely to appeal to your child, let them know that this is a fresh start. In some cases, it can be helpful to talk about the ways that the new school differs from their old school, and discuss all the new experiences they will gain access to.

    You will have the opportunity to take your child through the new school first and help them meet their teachers before their first day as a student. Give them an idea of what an average school day will look like. This can help hesitant kids. Try to keep some elements of your child's routine the same so that they aren't too thrown off.

    As a whole, going to school is harder for some students than others. Ask your child if they have any questions or fears about starting at the new school. If your child is nervous about making new friends, teach them how to approach other students politely. You can role play or go over scripts your child can use to promote social skills and lower anxiety.

    It can be beneficial for both you and your child to remember that it is likely possible to switch back to their current school if they need to. If things don't go as planned, they're not stuck.


    Kids may benefit from or need to switch schools for many different reasons. If a child's current school isn't meeting their needs, if they've stopped progressing in their education, or if new schools have better features, a fresh start may be exactly what they need.

    In general, going to school is harder for some students than others. Some kids require more care in their education journey, whether due to academic matters, social issues, or other challenges. Whether your child's in third grade or high school, changing schools is a transition. Talking with your child and addressing concerns if they have them can be helpful.

    The school change process might differ based on numerous factors. However, necessary steps for parents will often involve contacting the old school, contacting the new school, and requesting a child's education records.


    Dr. Brittany Ferri, PhD

    Brittany is a registered and licensed occupational therapist who holds a PhD in Integrative Mental Health. She is the owner of a writing and consulting company called Simplicity of Health. She has direct experience in program development, behavioral health, pediatrics, and telehealth. She has published five books, lectured at 20+ OT/OTA programs, and has been quoted as a health expert by NBC News, WebMD, CNN, and other outlets.


    Dr. Brittany Ferri, PhD

    Brittany is a registered and licensed occupational therapist who holds a PhD in Integrative Mental Health. She is the owner of a writing and consulting company called Simplicity of Health. She has direct experience in program development, behavioral health, pediatrics, and telehealth. She has published five books, lectured at 20+ OT/OTA programs, and has been quoted as a health expert by NBC News, WebMD, CNN, and other outlets.