Parents, did you know that selecting the right school for your child can single-handedly determine their academic career? The right school for your child can make all the difference in their lives. Fortunately, there are a variety of school options. With so many options, how do you know which school is for your child? The school options vary: neighborhood public, charter, magnet, online, private, parochial and alternative. It is important to learn about the options before you make your school selection. Here are eight helpful tips when selecting a school for your child:
1. Identify what you want in a school: When selecting a school for your child, think about your child and then determine what you want in a school. Create a list of what you would like to see in the school. If you are unsure of what to look for, here are ideas:
Evidence of love (pictures of students, evidence of celebrations)
Principal in classrooms
Welcoming teachers and staff members
Active parent association
Strong academic curriculum
Positive behavioral supports
Clean school environment
2. Test scores: Regardless of what anyone says, test scores are an important factor when selecting a school. In Indiana, you can go to IDOE: Compass to obtain the school’s letter grade and to view standardized test data. Test scores do not tell you everything about a school; however, they do tell you how a school is performing academically.
3. Visit the campus: If you have not visited your child’s school more than once before enrolling, how can you truly feel comfortable with where you are sending them? I encourage you to visit multiple times. You can get an overall feel of the school environment when you visit more than once. Take a tour, observe a few classes, visit the lunch room, and check out supervision during recess. Evaluate all parts of the school environment to determine whether or not the school is a good fit your child.
4. Ask questions: On those visits, have questions ready to ask the principal or even some teachers. Some good questions include:
How are teachers trained?
How do you handle discipline?
Do students attend field trips?
How are parents involved in the school?
Can I talk to current parents of the school?
Also, think about your child needs and ask questions to learn if the offerings at the school can best support the specific needs of your child.
5. Attend a school meeting: Parent meetings tend to give you a view from the school level, but if you also want a broader view of the school, attend a board meeting. Board meetings are open to the general public. During the board meeting, you can learn about the district or network supports they provide to the school. You can hear the overall goals and vision for the school and its network or vision. There are opportunities for public comment at the board meetings and you need to hear what the public has to say in regards to the school and the network or district.
6. Trust your instincts: There is nothing like the instincts of a parent. Once you have gathered all the necessary information regarding the school, it is time to make your decision. If you get a good feeling about the school, then trust that. If you have any reservations about the school, trust that. Do not overthink this decision; yes, it is a very important decision, but it is not complicated.
I hope these tips help you in making the right decision for your child. Remember this decision will set your child on their academic path. A path that will help determine the rest of their lives. No pressure, right?