Finding the right school can be a challenge for any family. There are so many things to consider. Making the right decision on which school to send children to is a very important one.
Do Your Research
The first step in finding the right school is to do your research. Research the following:
- Find the ratings and parent recommendations of the schools that the family is interested in.
- Identify the public schools located near the family’s home (or future home).
- Identify private schools located near the family’s home.
- Research school district websites.
- Contact school district websites to determine how students are assigned to each building (i.e. zoning, student enrollment numbers, etc).
- Contact private schools to find out information about tuition fees, registration requirements, etc.
Taking the time to do a little research can help a family narrow down which schools to consider.
Narrowing It Down
When a family has looked at all the information collected with the initial research, it is time to narrow down the school selections to two or three schools (if the schools are in a smaller community, families may only have two choices). It is also a great time to determine whether to send children to a public school or a private school. To help narrow down the search, consider the following:
- The top three things the family wants in a school (i.e. low class size, close to home, high standards, etc).
- Teacher to student ratio per classroom.
- Standards and benchmarks (this is what guides teachers in what to teach).
- Type of instruction provided to students (Is it mostly lecture or hands-on or a combination?).
- ITBS and other district wide assessment scores (look at to determine progress of students).
- Special education services that are provided and the type of environment (fully included, pull-out, etc).
- Talented and gifted program.
- Extracurricular and/or other programs in addition to core classes (i.e. band, choir, art, P.E., library/media, etc).
- Availability of teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, and school nurse.
- Identify whether the school nurse is at the school full-time or shared between buildings.
- Support that the teachers and para educators receive from administrators (i.e. building principal, superintendent, support services, etc).
- Number of field trips available to students.
- The type of transportation needed to get child to and from school (walk only, busing for all or some students, etc).
When the information is collected, visit the family’s top two or three choices in schools. It is important for parents to make the initial visit to the schools first. This way parents can ask school staff questions and have a sense of the atmosphere of the school. Then, the parents should make a second visit with children. After the visits have been completed, sit down as a family and discuss thoughts about each school. It is at this point that the family should make the important decision of which school the children should attend.
Making the tough decision of where children should attend school can be a difficult one. Once a family has done the research, narrowed the choices down to two or three schools, and visited the schools, the decision can be made easily with confidence.