Choosing a school today is more complicated than it ever has been before. These days, making sure your children attend the right school is a much more complex and sometimes stressful experience.
There are so many options out there to choose from, and it’s hard to weed the schools that will work for your child from the ones that won’t. The best choice for your child might not be the best choice for your neighbor’s child, as the school that best fits the child depends wholly on the child themselves and what needs they have and what skills they should have nurtured.
We put together this article in order to make the school decision a bit less daunting. In this list, we’ve compiled six reasons why picking the right school matters and what those six reasons entail for your family and, more specifically, your little learner.
The six criteria that you should weigh into the decision when it comes to choosing a school are as follows:
1. Your child’s needs
You know your child better than anyone else, which means that you have an intrinsic understanding of their unique needs and abilities. When choosing a school, you can weigh the size of the school, the size of the classes, and the emphasis on special programs. Ask yourself in what environment your child would thrive in—a small school that offers a tight-knit community or something on a larger scale that provides a wider view? Would your child do better in a single-sex private school or one that’s co-ed?
Many schools are focused on specific programs like foreign language, science, or the arts. If this is something your child is interested in, you might consider looking into a school that shares their focus.
If your child has unique academic needs—whether they need a larger challenge or assistance with developmental differences—this is also something you’ll want to research within a school before setting your heart on it.
2. The needs of your family
Before choosing a school, it’s also important to consider the needs of your family. You should keep in mind the ease/difficulty of transportation, the potential need for before- or after-school care, and the cost of tuition (if applicable). The school might be the best option in the world, but it’s probably not worth the struggle if it’s two hours away from where your family is located.
Academics is something that matters for every student’s career, so you want to make sure that your child has the right foundation to be able to grow in the way that they should. In order to get a good feel for the school’s academics, you can examine their test score data and dig deep into their curriculum and style of teaching. Even finding out more about their educational philosophy will help you get on the same page.
Make sure you’re comfortable with the educational style of the school because your child will take cues from you and react accordingly.
In recent years, the importance of extracurriculars has become more and more apparent. Some would argue that they’re just as important as academics—or at least they play an equally impactful role in the well-rounded nature of a child’s life. Art, music, and sports have the potential to teach a child discipline, encourage creativity, and give children the freedom to become more engaged in school.
When choosing the right school for your child, do your research to see if these types of programs are integrated into the school’s everyday routine, and notice how much or how little weight is placed on them.
5. Finances of the school
Even though this may not be the most exciting detail, it’s still important to consider. It’s a good idea to look at the school’s financial health and find out if it’s being managed well by the higher-ups. If not, there’s always the risk that the school could close unexpectedly and leave students scrambling for a solution.
6. School culture
You want to be sure that the school’s values match your own because this will give your child an environment in which they’re comfortable to learn and grow. Take a look and see if the environment is nurturing or more on the competitive side. Get a feel for the diversity of the student body, staff, and faculty. Find out if parental involvement is expected and if a dress code / uniform rule is in place.
The Right School for Your Child
The biggest mistake you can make is starting the search for the right school too late. It’s always better to have too much time than not enough—that way you can visit the school in person, talk to the principal, and get a feel from the parents of current students. Once you investigate all of your options, you’ll feel settled about having found the right choice of school for your child.