5 Ways to Choose a School for Your Child
Did you know? The average American student goes to school for about six and a half hours a day for 180 days a year, or about 1,170 hours. So, you might say that selecting a school (where they spend a LOT of time) is a big decision.
When it comes to choosing a school, there isn’t necessarily one good or right way to select it. There are so many factors to consider, and yet you as the parent should feel confident in the decision that you make, even well after you’ve enrolled your child. To that end, we’ve created a quick, but comprehensive guide to help you stay on the right track when it comes to this decision.
1. Make a list of priorities.
What’s most important to you? Depending on what you’re looking for, different schools can rank differently on your list. Consider the top three from the topics below and try to find out how your favorite school stacks up.
Do students and faculty alike take academics seriously? How are the scores at the high school level? Are most students attending college?
Does the school follow Common Core? Does it have regular curriculum review, and do faculty employ modern education tactics?
This can be difficult to assess prior to enrolling at a school—go by what you’ve heard (See #2.) Community cannot be underestimated, especially if you are new to the area, and need a place that feels like home!
Does the school participate in local leagues, and are they competitive? Do their students move on to play in college? How is the atmosphere at various games?
Is there a balanced amount of new teachers and experienced teachers? Is staff turnover an issue? What kind of experience do new hires have? Do any of them have Master’s degrees?
Does the school have a mission statement? Does it align with what you’re trying to raise your child to do or be? (Better yet, does the school follow its mission statement closely, and is it apparent with everything they do?)
2. Ask around.
Parents who live, work, and send their children to school in town are bound to have opinions and experiences. Use this as a jumping-off point to begin exploring the options that are best for your child. And when they give you recommendations, be sure to ask why they love the school they’ve chosen, and how it compares to other local schools.
3. Do your own research.
As easy as it would be to simply go off of what your neighbor or best friend says, it’s best to explore the school yourself. Just because they love it, and it’s a great fit for them doesn’t guarantee the same for you (though, that would be nice and easy!) Visit the school website, email or call the admissions coordinator, take a tour and get onto the campus! (Bonus points if you’re able to see the campus while school is still in session.)
4. Consider what’s best for your child.
As a parent, you are given the specific responsibility of helping guide your child through life’s bumps and bruises. Allowing your child to choose their school may seem like the easiest choice, but there is no substitution for experience. When it comes to schools, you’ve already been through the education system (even if there are a few technological changes since you were in middle school…) and you have seen what you like or do not like, and have a good idea of what would be best for your child, based on your very specific knowledge of both!
5. Look beyond today.
There is so much to consider when choosing a school, and it can be hard to not get lost in the day-to-day, or even year-to-year decisions. What do you see when looking at the actual product of the school—the alumni? Are they successful, driven, and compassionate human beings? Do they take pride in their alma mater? What kind of fruit are they bearing? Is this a school that your child would develop good habits—both learning and social—to take with them into the world as soon as they graduate? What may seem important now: every sport offered, a host of student groups to take part in, for example, those options may not be as important as the way your child will be changed (postively or otherwise) by the staff, faculty and community who are part of the school you’re considering.
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