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Selecting a School

Selecting a School
Arm yourself with the questions necessary to make sure the school you choose is the best for your child.

Selecting a SchoolChoosing a school for your child can be intimidating. Make a good decision and opportunities could open up. Choose the wrong school and everyone, including you as parents, will be miserable. Obviously you want to visit the potential school before making a choice, but then what? Thankfully, there are some key questions you should ask to help make the decision easier.

1. What do we want in a school? This question should guide your decision-making process. What will best meet your child’s needs? What kind of learner is she? In which environment—structured or flexible, independent, or collaborative—does your child learn best?

2. What is the look and feel of the school? Is it warm and inviting or cold and impersonal? Do students and teachers seem comfortable? Do they seem to enjoy being there? How old are the facilities, and how well do they appear to be maintained?

3. Does the school have a particular philosophy or approach? Some do, others don’t. It’s good to know, though, and can help you decide if the fit is going to be right. Examples of teaching approaches include Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio.

4. How many students are in each class? Smaller class sizes often mean that students have greater access to individualized attention and support. If class sizes are large, ask the administration how their teachers are able to effectively manage so many kids. They may have a full-time aide, team-teach, or work in small groups.

5. What are the school’s policies? Ask about homework, discipline, grading, assessment, special services, extracurricular activities, and parental involvement.

Beyond these questions, be sure to visit locations such as the library, technology center, gym, lunchroom, and playground. The condition of these areas will give you a good feel for the school’s priorities and capacity. It’s also important to ask for copies of the student handbook, class schedules, and newsletters. These materials, combined with the tour and answers to your questions, should help you make the most informed decision about your child’s education.

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Grown Ups

Grown Ups

Grown Ups Magazine is a free resource for parents, teachers, extended family, or anyone who lives or works with kids. Enjoy digital issues of Grown Ups on your iPad, iPhone, or at grownupsmag.com.

  • Jen St Germain Leeman

    Excellent advice! My daughter goes to public school now, but I remember shopping around for the perfect preschool and kindergarten program for her.

  • Katie Hale

    We are so picky about our sons education. We are currently homeschooling because the area we live in doesn’t support his needs. He is 6 years old but has completed the 2nd grade. He would be denied advancement due to his age in our area schools. Great tips for choosing.

  • A lot of thought went into my children and their education. Lucky for me we live in a great area for schools. The best thing that parents can do is to educate themselves on their options. Great tips.

  • Alea Milham

    These are really important things to think about when looking for a school! When we were looking at schools for my daughter we really looked at the curriculum and the teaching style/philosophy to see if the way material was presented matched our daughter’s learning style.

  • Taylor Speikers

    Definitely going to save this for later when I look for one down the road for my daughter! As it is, we’re looking at moving across country because the schools here in Arizona are so bad.

  • Tatanisha Worthey

    These are great tips- we had to move the boys to a new school and I remember asking myself these same questions!!

  • notageek4u

    I’m not a parent…yet…but these are definitely some great tips!

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