Choosing the right school for a child can be a daunting decision for parents. You want your children to be in a school where they will thrive academically and physically, and where they can build relationships with peers and teachers.
Because changing schools can be a challenging experience for a child, you want to ensure you’re making the right decision for them. In this blog, we share four tips to help you decide the right school for your child.
Do your research
Depending on where you live, there may be different types of schools aside from a regular neighbourhood public school. Many parents are unaware they have other choices. Other options include private schools, charter schools (in between public and private schools), online schools, alternative schools, and homeschooling.
Do research online to learn about the schools available for your child and what they offer. You should look for what curricula the school offers, the daily schedule, and extracurricular activities they offer. Make a list of what’s important to you. Things to consider include the quality of teaching and staff, expectations of students, how the children behave. You should also consider the relationship between parents and teachers, and how well the school answers your questions.
While test scores are only one component of a school, they might reveal how well students perform academically. Check standardised test scores or ratings to see if they’re available for your local schools.
Furthermore, there are other things parents can consider. For example, whether their child will learn a second language or take religious classes. Or whether they will gain a background in a specialty, such as the arts.
Indeed, try to consider how the school treats different learning styles or challenges, and how they cater to your child’s social needs.
Look for parent testimonials
An important part of your research may include testimonials from parents of children at a school. In the same way we consult restaurant reviews before making a reservation, you want to ensure that parents are happy. It’s always a good sign if a school makes testimonials available online. Otherwise you may need to ask your network to find parents of children who attend certain schools. Parent testimonials for SISD can be found here.
In most cases, a school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings may be available to the general public. If they are, your presence should be welcome. This is one way you can collect names and phone numbers of school parents to contact later with your questions.
Visit the school in person
When you find a school that may be a good fit for your child, visit to see the classrooms and meet the staff and teachers. Open house events allow parents to speak to the school’s principal and faculty. This also allows you to receive answers to questions you may have after doing your research. And, in turn, understanding how they may address your child’s specific learning or other needs. Here are a few questions you could ask:
- How much homework do you give students?
- How are teachers trained and supported?
- How do you handle behavioural problems?
Additionally, principals should be open to meeting with parents and forthcoming about the school and its teachers. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the school. For example what is expected of parents, how teachers relate to students, and what the learning environment looks like. Take photos during your visit and compare later.
Keep in mind that the school staff will try to make a good impression at an open house. If you are looking for a different point of view, try speaking to parents and students at a school. If possible, find out if parents and their children are happy with the quality of education offered at the school. Ask them if teachers are responsive to students’ needs and concerns, and what opportunities parents have to get involved.
Follow your instincts
Becoming well informed of your child’s options is the first step to choosing the right school for them. When it comes time to make the decision, trust your gut. If your children are older (perhaps entering a new secondary school), they may have their own feelings about specific schools. Data will only give you one perception. You might have a good feeling after having a conversation with teachers, the principals, or staff. Or further, by learning about other features the school offers.
Armed with information, you should feel good that a school will allow your child to be secure in their academic future and thrive physically and socially.