Transitioning from Private to Public

Updated on May 23, 2012
D.P. asks from Sacramento, CA
11 answers

My kids have been in a Catholic school since kindergarten (now in 3rd and 4th grade) and they really like their school, but we are switching them to a public school next school year. Have you ever transistioned your child from a private to public school? What were the major differences. I know one of the biggest issues to my kids is that they wont have to wear uniforms, my fahionista dd will not have a problem with this, my son however, well the child doesnt really care about the matching factor so I will be working on this with him through out the summer. Also, the school they are in now is quite a bit smaller, one class per grade, the new one has on average 3 per grade. Do most public school have long supply lists to purchase before school starts? Besides these questions, the main one I have is how did your child adjust to the transition, I know things are alot different at public schools than at private ones. THANKS!

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So What Happened?

Called the school to see about taing kids on a tour and found out there is an open house tomorrow night, so I will get to go and speak to teachers, meet parents, ect. and the kids will get to see what they can exoect, what school set up is like, they will see projects the different classed have completed this year, ect..

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answers from Norfolk on

I've heard of great private schools and great public schools.
I've heard of horrible private schools and horrible public schools.
There are a lot of variables and it really depends on the specific schools involved.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

My niece transitioned from a 25K per year private Christian school to the public school and she blossomed. No bullying in the public school--she was bullied in the private school. No prayer time, no uniforms, a dress code. Each class has clear rules to follow.

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answers from Washington DC on

Well, I went to a private Christian school til 4th and had to go to a public school in 5th. If he no longer needs a uniform (some public districts require them), then get him some basics so it's "uniform-like" but he can wear jeans, tshirts, etc. Make it easy for him.

I did feel there was a bit of a culture clash. I didn't ever wear a uniform but it was a different thing to ride a bus with HS students to my middle school, to have to transfer buses, that when I lost my brand new gloves they were gone - whereas in my tiny little elementary school, someone would know they were mine and bring them to me. I had to be more independent. I also learned that other children might steal - more of an issue for me in a different school than the one I attended in 5th grade. I went from 17 kids in my entire grade to 120 in my TEAM. There weren't 120 kids in my whole private school! So the sheer volume was something to get used to.

If the school doesn't have the list of supplies posted on the website, contact them. Many local stores may carry them next to the supplies, too.

Due to the whole "lost my gloves thing", I've been much more vigilant about DD's stuff. I invested in tags from Mabel's Labels ( Tag mates can be easily fixed onto clothing and mittens and cell phones and whatever else and they even make tags for shoes. When SD was in elementary school, at the end of the year they'd have tables upon tables of lost and found stuff. Had I known about the tag mates then, I'd have stuck them on everything. She was pretty good, but there were a few items we would have liked back.

And just talk to them about what to expect, tour the schools, meet teachers if possible, etc. Find out how the school does lunch. Talk to them about their expectations, their fears and help them have a good idea of what they're getting into, at least as far as the basics.

FYI, both my sks had to change from a private school as well. Theirs was not religious but they had to adjust to different expectations, more kids, etc. Both of them did well overall. SS just graduated college cum laude and SD is off to college with a current weighted GPA of 4.0.

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answers from Sacramento on

My husband made the transition and loved it. He hated being in private school because it was full of rich kids who picked on him. So, his situation wasn't so great in private school, which doesn't sound like your situation. My husband did like the diversity of being in public school.

The school supply list in public school is huge. Budget cuts have hit hard here, so expect to buy everything ... this will include things like Kleenex. You may even be asked to buy printer and photo paper to help out. They do here in Roseville.

ETA: Our kids went to private preschool and went to public school after that. The biggest difference we noticed was zero tolerance for differences in private school -- your child has a behavioral problem, they just kick you out (which happened with our son). In public school, they welcome all kids and under law, must teach them.

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answers from Washington DC on

it was so long ago i'm not sure any of my stuff applies, but i transitioned in high school from a small private all-girl christian school to an american public high school. major culture shock! the behavior was completely different. your kids will probably encounter attitudes, language and behavior that will shock, worry, then intrigue them. make sure YOUR boundaries and bedrock ethics stay firm and clear during the transition.
good luck!

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answers from Las Vegas on

I have never transitioned, however, I went to public school and so did my older daughter. My (much) younger daughter goes to private school.

There is no prayer time. I am sure they will adjust to that since they don't pray in other settings like summer camp unless it is a church function.

No uniforms. I would let your son find his own fashion. Justice for kids now sells mix match socks as a pair. So maybe he is fashionable after all.

I believe their days will be a little shorter by maybe 30 - 45 minutes. They will likely be ahead of their class. I can remember getting new students in the class and they would just sit there. I would ask if they needed help and they would tell me they already new the work or already completed the work.

The discipline may be a little different as well. I can remember disruptive kids in our school. My daughter speaks of one little boy who is disruptive and is always in trouble. My boss has one child in their private school who is very disruptive and he believes the young man is being transferred to our school. I think I remember this as the norm in public school. Not to scare you, but prepare you.

There is a list of items that goes home, but what I remember is things like 2 boxes of kleenex, a roll of paper towels, a 3 ring binder, and a backpack, whereas, the private schools ask for a lot of the classroom supplies. Three times this year, I have sent in glue sticks.

Best wishes, it will be a little adjustment, but they will do fine.

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answers from Austin on

Call the school office and they can give you the school supply list for the next school year.

At our daughters elementary school they did switch classes at the second grade level so that may be different..

Also if your private school did not have a cafeteria lunch line, you may want to explain how that will work.

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answers from Houston on

I went to a private school for 5th, 6th and 1/2 of 7th. It was so lax, they had a smoking area for the high school students, which I thought was cool. It was built on the side of a mountain in Rio de Janeiro. I lived there for almost 3 years and as I said, went to private school. When we moved back, I think it was cultural shock. No smoking area, rules and dress code in the public schools. I hated it! I didn't feel like I had any freedom. On the other hand, my mother was kissing the ground and skipping home since we weren't going to the "school of Sodom and Gamora". :)

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answers from San Francisco on

My GD just transitioned from public to private school. The problem I see is that she was further advanced in private school so she's a bit bored right now in public school and boredom leads to behavior issues so that's where we are right now.

Our public elementary schools are uniform schools. Check your district - they may be also.

There are not long supply lists at the beginning of the year. Pretty standard stuff - pencils, erasers, notebook, ruler, glue stick, crayons or markers. Then the teacher usually also sends home a request for parents to provide classroom supplies such as kleenex, hand sanitizer - that kind of thing.



answers from Cumberland on

Don't switch-it destroyed my family



answers from San Francisco on

I think they will be fine but the biggest thing is the unruly kids in the classroom but most of the teachers know how to handle it. Plus bigger size in classroom, (our size went up to 30-yikes) so make sure to get to know your children's teachers and tell him/her to alert you if they notice any learning changes. Last but not least almost all public schools here have a uniform. I don't know if they do in Sacramento though. The teacher usually sends out a wish list of what is needed in the classroom and you can contribute that way but yes, kids need a box of their own supplies that they keep at school as well. Good luck!!

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