Choosing the Best School for your Child
If you are planning on sending your child to private school, before you make any moves towards finding the right school, make sure this is something both you and your child want. You have to seriously consider what the child wants if this is to be a successful decision for everyone concerned. If the two of you are essentially in agreement, you can set about choosing the best school for your child.
The selection of the best school is not going to be easy or swift. It can be quite time consuming and involves a lot of work. Whatever you do, do not leave it until the last minute. Do your research at least a year ahead of time. This will give you plenty of time to find out as much as possible about each school. It also gives you sufficient time to visit the campuses to see what exactly goes on at each facility.
The Basic Guide
It is best to look at the entire process logically. You need to adopt a simple but multi-prong approach to the search. It begins with looking at the child and the family.
- The Child: Consider exactly what your child needs in terms of his/her learning stage, skills, strengths and specific needs
- The Family: What can the family actually afford? What do you expect? Are you looking for a school that has a specific philosophy, morality or approach? What do you expect the school to provide you with that a public school system cannot?
Once you have a clear idea of what you need, want and expect, of an education facility, (include not only educational philosophy but racial composition, cultural diversity and other significant factors that may affect how you feel about how they may influence your child) you can move on to the next component of your task.
- Compile a list of schools
- Research each facility to see how it matches up with your criteria. Look at their web site as well as those provided by both partisan and independent organizations. This will provide you with a basic portrait of each facility
- Arrive at a short list
- Contact each school on the list and find out more about it. Go beyond the e-mail. Be sure to talk to someone. Find out the qualifications of the teachers. This is an important aspect of your child’s education and indicates the level of commitment of the school to providing quality education to their students.
- Visit during an open house or arrange to take a tour. Use the time to carefully observe the interaction between students and between students and teachers.
- If you can, arrange to talk to students and even the parents of former and current students. Find out how the experience was for the parents as well as the children. If their children are former students is it because they have chosen to go elsewhere or has the child graduates. If the former, find out what went wrong – if anything. If it was the latter, see where the child was accepted?
Make the Decision
Once you are certain which school is the right school, apply. Make certain, however, that you do not place all your hopes on acceptance into one school and one school only. Remember schools have limited enrolment. Have one or more alternatives. This, as suggested by author Ann Dolin, is the right approach if you want your child to get into a good private school.