Every child is different, but the impact of starting a new school mid-year or anytime, can prove overwhelming; for even the most confident child. Furthermore, the damaging impact on the child may be exacerbate if the child endures multiple moves in a short period of time; particularly during the early childhood stage.
“There’s a clear association between changing schools and an increased risk for behavior problems,” says Dr. Mona Mansour, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital who recently presented study results on this topic to the Pediatric Academic Societies. “Children who change schools frequently are more likely to have behavioral issues.”
A Time Magazine article posted in February 2014, details a study conducted by Dr. Swaran Singh, a psychiatrist and head of the mental health division at Warwick. His interest in school changes and subsequent isolation were piqued when a Demark study found that “children moving from rural to urban settings showed increased signs of psychoses”. The authors also noted that the students had to deal with “not just a change in their home environment, but in their social network of friends at school as well.”
According to the Time article, Singh’s team consequently amassed a database of almost 14,000 children born between 1991 and 1992 and followed their progress for 13 years to ascertain which factors would most strongly impact mental health. Their focus was on whether these school changes and the resultant social isolation would contribute to psychosis-like symptoms.
Based on their surveys and the environmental circumstances of the children, Singh found that switching schools three or more times in early childhood appeared to be linked to a “two-fold greater risk of developing psychosis-like symptoms such as hallucinations and interrupting thoughts”. He further suspected that “repeatedly being an outsider by having to re-integrate into new schools may lead to feelings of exclusion and low self-esteem”.
When to Change Schools
In general, regarding the best time of year to change schools so it has the least impact on a child, a variety of parent chat boards and mommy blogs offer a mixed response. If during the school year, some suggest it should be after the December holidays, but an article in The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry suggests that if the family must move and the child is in his or her senior year of high school, efforts should be made to allow the child to stay with a relative or close family friend until the school year is done.
The answer to the question of “What is the right time of the school year to switch your child’s school?” is not necessarily as definitive as the certainty that an awareness of every child’s potential vulnerability is a foregone conclusion.
The information contained in this article and any other article do not reflect the views of AAA. The opinions, conclusions and other information expressed are neither given nor endorsed by AAA or its representatives, but provided for the sole purpose of presenting updates on current research in this sector.