Q&A: Stay in the new school or go back?

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Anonymous writes:

"Last year, we moved our kids, now 7 and 9, out of a private parochial school into our public school district's gifted and talented program. While it's true that the education is much better, our kids don't seem as happy. There have been some social challenges for my 3rd grader and my first grader, who has a high IQ but slow processing time constantly feels rushed. I am less happy as a parent as well. I don't feel nearly a part of things like I did, and I miss the family feel of our old school. My kids also frequently talk about their old school.

Our old school has a slower pace and much smaller class sizes (grades 2 and 3 will be combined next year), but does not have the resources to provide an advanced curriculum or anything beyond the basics. The new school provides a stellar education, but leads to a higher level of day to day stress.

So I find myself torn on what to do next. Stick it out another year or go back? Thoughts welcome."

As daycare issues are to parents of little kids, school issues are to parents of bigger kids. If things are great, you don't even have to think about it. But when things are wrong, it eats you up and you feel guilty and scared constantly.

I don't know what the hierarchy of decisionmaking should be here, frankly. There are benefits to both sides. But I can tell you what it was like being in this situation as a kid. In fifth grade my parents moved me from my teeny little Lutheran school (shoutout to my fourth-grade teacher who found me on FB so I'm now allowed to call him Steve) to another school that was supposed to be great for "gifted" kids. And I hated it. The new school was mean and rigid and had a lot of philosophies, whereas the old school was warm and welcoming and liked me as a person and let me go at my own pace anyway.

I cried, a lot. And I'm a tension increaser, so the crying didn't help anyone.

And after four months my parents moved me back. To this day I still think of that first when I think about how my parents trusted me and stood up for me. Moving back was great, and it felt like going home, and I could really be myself again.

So it's obvious what my advice is, but I realize that it's totally colored by my own situation. Does anyone else have experience with this, as either the kid or the parent? What did you do? What would you do?