Looking for a new school for your child can be as overwhelming as buying a new home. Whether looking at public or private schools, there are several ideas to consider when finding the right fit for your child and your family.
Take a Tour of the School
When looking for a new home you don’t just drive by each home, likewise don’t just just drive by potential schools. Call and arrange to tour the school and observe a classroom. You want to see students who are genuinely engaged, not wasting time or bored. Schools should be relatively noisy places, it’s okay for classrooms to have talking and movement as long it is directed toward a learning goal. Take time to observe how teachers and administrators interact with the students and vice versa. Notice if student work is on display, no matter the grade level, it means that place is about kids and their work.
Look for a Place Where You Feel Welcome
Good schools should welcome parents as volunteers and visitors. The principal should be someone you feel comfortable talking with if there’s a problem. Ask about parent volunteer opportunities available throughout the school year.
Think Long Term
Remember your first-grader will be heading to middle school before you know it. Unless you plan on moving soon, also check out the middle and high schools in the district. If the upper-level schools in your prospective district are about kids doing great work, they’ll likely be a good fit if you like the elementary school.
Visit the School Community
Go to a school board meeting for information about the district. Notice if parents there because their children are being honored or are they there because of a problem? Likewise, attend a PTA or PTO meeting and talk with the parents there. Most parents are open to share school challenges and successes. Also consider the makeup of the students. Chances are if you choose a neighborhood school, you’ll find some similarities between your kids and their classmates, because there are probably similarities between you and your neighbors. Yet a school that has a diverse student body also offers benefits. Even if the school isn’t as diverse as you would like, after-school activities like sports and music give them a chance to interact with students from different backgrounds.
No matter how wonderful the school is, it’s natural to have some butterflies on the first day in a new school. Just like it takes time for a new house to feel like home, it takes time for kids to settle into a new school.
You can begin your new school search here. When you are ready to begin your home search, give me a call at 480-500-1738!