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12 Questions to Ask When Choosing a School

by Robyn Reisch 4 months ago in parents

These will help you discern the best fit for your child.

12 Questions to Ask When Choosing a School
Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

Choosing an exceptional school has little to do with test scores and trending educational theories. It's about determining the best fit for your unique kid - and your family. You want to find a school that brings out the greatest version of your child. Ideally, they will do so in a way that aligns with your personal views on education.

The questions below should help you to find this elusive unicorn!

Academic Rigor: How intensive do I want my child's studies to be?

Are all children held to the same standard, or are there different tracks for different abilities? Are the graduates well prepared to succeed at the next level? Is homework assigned? How much? What kind of parent support is expected at home?

Mental Health: What kind of a mental health environment does this school cultivate?

What does school/life balance look like for these students? Is mental health discussed in the classroom? How are study skills and time management taught? How would you describe the school's culture? Are students competitive with one another? How is bullying handled?

Extracurricular Activities: What will my child have access to beyond the classroom?

What sports are available? Is "jock culture" present in this school? What does that look like? Are there plays and musical performances? Are there other, more niche clubs for special interests? Can a child start their own?

By Katrina Berban on Unsplash

Music and Art: How is creativity integrated in the curriculum?

How often do the children have music and art classes? What do these classes look like? Are they free form creative spaces? Do they teach theory and history? Are art and music drawn into other parts of the curriculum?

Physical Health: What does the school do to support my child's growing body?

What does physical education look like? How much time do the children spend outside? Are the school lunch options nutritious? What does the sexual education curriculum look like?

Discipline: Is this school more strict or permissive?

How are the classrooms managed? Is there lots of lively chatter and side conversation? Are the students quiet and respectful when the teacher speaks? What are the rules? What are the consequences when they are broken?

By Emily Wade on Unsplash

Technology: How much does this school emphasize and integrate technology?

Does this school issue each child an iPad? Are papers typed or handwritten? Is there technology in the classroom? How much? What purpose does it serve?

Special Needs: How does this school support and accommodate learning differences?

Are children with special needs separated for more specialized instruction? Are they integrated into the classroom? How are special needs identified?

*If you have a child with a specific need, try to connect with a family at the school with a similar child. Ask what their experience has been.*

Diversity: To what extent will my child be exposed to new cultures and ideas?

How does the school's racial and cultural makeup compare to the surrounding area? If there's a disparity - why? Does the school fall left or right politically? Is there healthy debate at parent meetings, or are they more of an echo chamber?

By Clay Banks on Unsplash

Citizenship: Does this school teach children to consider global issues and improve their local community?

How does this school engage with the community? Are community service projects a part of the curriculum? Are global issues discussed in the classroom? Are local issues? Is student activism encouraged or discouraged? How so?

Teacher Autonomy: Are teacher decisions backed by the administration?

What happens if a parent disagrees with their child's teacher? Are teachers given the freedom to create their own course, or do they adhere to a strict curriculum? How does teacher burnout/turnover compare to other local schools?

Educational Theory: What does this school truly believe in?

To me, this is the most important question of them all. It's a good sign if the person you ask lights up and elaborates on this excitedly. It's a bad sign if they struggle to answer. They should have plenty of stories and examples.

They say the same water that softens the potato will harden the egg. Choosing the right environment for your child can be tricky. In the end, though, there's nothing more rewarding than watching them thrive!

parents

Robyn Reisch

Robyn Reisch spends her days cooking, writing, and raising three gorgeous little hooligans. She is married to the world's greatest man. They live in Colorado with their elderly dog, Rupert.

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