Advice on Children Transitioning from Private School to a Public High School

Updated on May 05, 2010
E.W. asks from Friendswood, TX
13 answers

This is way in future for us but weighing heavily on my mind...Our three children will attend a private Catholic school until 8th grade. After that they may have to go to the local public high school. Anyone have experience with this? How did your children make the transition. I am worried that on the social side they may have trouble making friends because by the time your in high school you usually have your core friends. Any guidance would be appreciated.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I went to a private school through 8th grade and then switched to a public high school. I didn't have problems with it. There are so many new people in the high school, that you fit right in with everyone else meeting new people. So I wouldn't worry too much about it.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

My niece started our public high school this year after 1-8 of a combo of homeschooling and attending a Christan school thru grade 8.
She had a big "mean girls" problem at the Christian Academy and let me tell you, she has BLOSSOMED in High School. Chances are many of the kids classmates will be attending the same high school too, if the catholic school only goes til Grade 8.
She has had NO problem making friends and she has joined the track team and loves it!


answers from Saginaw on

It is also myself that has had experience in this. I went from a private school preschool-8th grade then to a public school. My high school wasn't too big, but was a school that was full of students that had been together their whole lives. It was quite an adjustment, but I adjusted and am still friends with quite a few friends from over 10 years ago.
My suggestion is to try to put your child in a school with others from her class. Most of the students from my private school broke off into the public school system...but unfortunately not one of them went to my school. It would have been nice to share the experience with at least one other student from my private school.
Oh also...if your kids are still young it might be worth a shot to get them introduced to other kids in their neighborhood, that might help too. I knew no one in my neighborhood...and one really good friend that accepted me right away at high school was only a block away from me. It would have been nice knowing her before starting high school.



answers from Tyler on

My kids didn't go from private to public, but we moved around a lot. In my daughter's junior year, a teacher asked the class to raise their hands if they had been in more than one school. She then said, "Keep your hands up if you've been in more than 2 schools . . . 3 schools. . . etc." My daughter had been in 9 schools, so she was the one left holding her hand up. The teacher said to her, "You will have NO problem adjusting to college. It will be just another school to you." And it was just that way. Everytime your child has to adjust to something new, it prepares them for the future.



answers from Dallas on

I would really think about how big the school they will be going to will be, and how many of theri friends will be going with them. I went from an 8th grade class of 36 to a freshman class of over 1,000 - and let's just say it did not go well. It seemed like all the other kids knew each other from junior high - and no one went out of their way to be nice to me - I was also pretty shy and was not a great looking kid. I would wake up can cry before school almost every day - it got so bad that in the spring my parents were trying to get me into the Catholic high school. But - about that time I finally made a few friends - and didn't want my parents to have to make the scrifices they would have to make to send me to private. Long story short - I think it depends a lot on the schools and kids involved - but it can be a very painful transition. I wish you and your kids the best of luck!



answers from Charlotte on




answers from Indianapolis on

High School was the first time in my life I'd been at a school longer than 2 years. Either we'd move, I was accepted into gifted programs, etc. It was hard always changing schools, but kids are really resilient, and they'll do just fine.

The hardest part will likely be less on the social side (i'd recommend getting them involved in outside activities that expose them to kids who feed into the public school system), but more on the side of differences in rules between public and private.

Good luck. I knew only public schools growing-up, my husband knew only private Christian schools. He's been very good to be willing to try public for our kids.



answers from Boise on

This wasn't my kids, but me! My graduating eighth grade class was 18. My high school freshman class was 305! It was a HUGE adjustment. I did make some friends, although I don't know how good of friends. :) And part of what helped me was the extra curricular activities so I had a sister of a fellow team member who helped me out. I think it will all depend on your kids' personality and how much they are truly sheltered as to how they will transition, plus how many fellow classmates may be transitioning with them. It will definitely be scary for them.



answers from Dallas on

I attended private school until the second semester of my freshman year, before moving and attending a public school. After a while, I did make a lot of good friends that were very similar to me.....basically a quiet group of really good girls that didn't have boyfriends, made straight A's (you know the type). BUT, when I first started at the public school and I was still meeting people and trying to see where I fit in, I met some really different people. All very nice and I'm thankful to everyone and their kindness to me, but it was an eyeopener! I was so shocked to find out that kids my age were having sex and doing drugs. I know, perhaps I seem naive, but that was something I was never exposed to in the private school.

Not telling you this to make you worry about public school, but I just wanted to give you a heads up that there seems to be a lot more diversity in a public school, so hopefully your kids will quickly settle in with kids that are similar to them in terms of values, beliefs, study habits, etc.



answers from Dallas on

I did that exact same thing. I was homeschooled up untill 8th grade then attend a private school with class size of 10. Then on to a public school with over 800 kids in the 9th grade alone. I didn't have a problem with it. I have always been sure of myself. Being homeschooled and then slowly transitioning to a bigger school I was able to "find" myself. It just depends on your children. If you have raised them in your best capacity and have given them all the encouragement they need. I am sure they will do fine. Having a strong background (Family, friends, church) will overcome any peer pressure. If the school is large that is an even greater opportunity for your children to meet new people everyday and join in activities where they can relate to other classmates. Private school is also a great oppurtunity to get ahead. When I transitioned I realized that I was more advanced than most of the other kids and was able to join Pre AP and AP classes and take college credit.

As a mother of course you will worry, but your children are growing up and you can no longer choose who their friends are (playdates) Public school is not an accurate real world experience but will give them the tools they need. You can't quit your job just because you don't like your coworker and if your children have trouble making friends find outside activities or in school activities that they will enjoy. Tell them to not limit who their friends are, nothing is worse than a clique.



answers from Dallas on

I went to christian private schools from 1st grade through the first semester of my senior year. I went from 20 kids in my class to a graduating class of 202. It was a little insane and i went crazy! It was much easier to skip class and found the wrong crowd and just pretty much lost my way. I always had 1-3 really good friends at any time. It was really hard on me. Hopefully with a lot of prayer everything will go fine!! You may just have to go on how they are when you get to that point.



answers from Cincinnati on

Actually, I don't think you could pick a better time to transition. I spoke to a bunch of my friends, and all of us agree that 8th grade was the WORST YEAR OF OUR LIVES. Hormones, social troubles, the works! Then, by 9th grade, most kids start to grow up a little. Plus, lots of new kids join in at the beginning of high school. I have several great friends who came over from private school in 9th grade, and they didn't have any trouble making new friends. And none of us know what they were like during their awkward years. ^_~



answers from Seattle on

I wouldn't worry about it right now.. I would think that some children will from the private k-8 school will also move on to local public school.. I attended a private school k-12 a small school adpeted well into a large univeristy public with none of my friends going to the same school.. also my school (high school had alot of new students transfer in at 9th grade even though it was a k-12 and with sports ect.. we welcomed all the new students and it was no big deal.. also I have young children and I always though my kids would attend the same private school I went to k-12.. but my daugter is struggeling there at first grade and tutoring is about 5 thousand more on top of tuttion a year.. so my plans have changed even though I would of never predicted this... education is different for each child.. so we are moving on to plan B... as I call it another private school with more of a montessorri approach and the tutoring is included in tution.. I just wanted to add that though for you and don't stress everything will work out for the best :) sorry I didn't answer your question exactly.
best of luck,

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