school

"What parents need to know before asking for your kid to change class if you're unhappy."

The start of school jitters (often from the parents, I know, I’ve been there) are in abundance throughout Australia at the moment with children beginning their school journeys or returning for another year. Regardless of where your children go to school or what type of school it is there, is one factor that 99.9 per cent of these children will face – change.

A new year usually also means a new class with different students and a different teacher than the year before.

This change can be quite challenging for a child and for the parents of the child as well. As a teacher and as a parent, I have witnessed this challenge from both perspectives. Although there are sometimes bumps in the road, there’s one piece of information that I can pass.

It’s that your child’s school and their teacher always have their best interests at heart.

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The process of class selection varies from school to school, but it is without a doubt a very lengthy, thought out and carefully considered process that involves numerous individuals within the school community.

This may include: their current class teacher, the teachers at the level they will progress to, the students themselves, other support staff such as counsellors, integration aides and support staff and parents. Other information such as school reports, testing, individual learning needs and general observations made throughout the year factor in too.

Whichever processes your school uses to make their selection, you can be rest assured that this information is analysed, discussed, revised and checked again, until a final decision has been made. And sometimes, as with everything, not everyone is happy.

When I found out my daughter’s class group for 2019, I was one of these unhappy people. As a parent I was disappointed that my daughter did not get put in the same class as one of her good friends, who she requested to be with (as is part of her school selection policy) who she feels comfortable and confident being around.

But then I put my ‘teacher hat’ on and realised maybe this is why they are not in the same class. To ensure they build other strong relationships and to not rely so much on each other. Let’s face it, that is the reality of life. We don’t always get what we want and we are always encountering new people. We need to change and adapt to new environments so it is important this skill is built from a young age.

shona hendley
Shona and her two daughters. Image: Supplied.
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As well as new classmates, most children will find themselves with a new classroom teacher. Again, with all schools, this choice has been part of a rigorous process. The majority of teachers who your child will have are individuals who want to be there. They are all qualified educators despite the length of their classroom experience or their age. I can say, after working alongside hundreds of them, the vast majority will do practically anything to help educate and support your child.

For clarity, this does NOT mean your child and their teacher will always ‘mesh’, ‘gel’ or see eye to eye on everything. And you know what? Sometimes this is a really beneficial thing for both your child and the teacher. Building rapport and relationships with up to twenty-seven children (per class and depending on the school) is what a teacher is trained to do. But it doesn’t mean it will happen straight away, nor does it mean they will get along like a house on fire. What it does mean though, is there will be respect and a strong educational relationship.

The other helpful process that most schools run is an orientation program before your child begins in that particular class. It may be one day, a week or sometimes even longer. Whichever option, it is an opportunity for them to meet their new classmates and their new teacher and there is some sense of familiarity before they begin the year.

Change is always tricky and some children (and/or their parents) find it harder than others. But schools are there to help educate your child, in partnership with you. They are there to provide support and to listen if you have concerns or worries. Any good school will offer these things, as any good parent will support the decisions and processes of the school.

Sometimes, like all of us, they can make mistakes or misjudgements. Sometimes they don’t always give your child or you what you want. But remember if you are concerned, you should feel comfortable enough to communicate this and come to some sort of alternative or mutual understanding about why that decision has been made.

Have you ever tried to get your child's teacher changed? Why did you do it? Tell us in the comments section below.

Shona Hendley is a freelance writer from Victoria. An animal lover and advocate, ex secondary school teacher with a morbid fascination for true crime and horror movies, she is busy writing and raising her children: two goats, two cats and two humans. You can follow her on Instagram here.

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