Choosing a School
The choice of school you make for your child will
have great impact both on your life as a parent and on your
child. Starting early helps you look at all your options and weigh
your choices. Finding the right school can take some time,
but it is time well spent.
Depending on the age of your child, there can be lots of
options for you and your child.
Whether it's pre-school or high school, though, be sure to see
what's available in your area. Check with your neighbors,
friends, co-workers . . . especially if they have children
about the same age as yours or a little older. Find out what
they think of the schools in your area. The Fox River Valley
offers an excellent selection of public and private
Don't stop there, though. Open your phone book and make
sure you are aware of all the options available to you. Today,
with public schools, private academies, parochial schools, charter
schools, virtual schools, and home-schooling -- you have more
options than ever before. You might also want to check the
web. Most cities offer a listing of schools and often these
have links to school websites. You can find out lots of
information about schools on the web these days.
Examine your family's needs...
Before you go any further, it's a good idea to examine what
you are really looking for in a school. Obviously, you want
your child to succeed academically, but there is much more to
school success than good grades. Each child has physical,
emotional, social, academic, and spiritual needs to consider.
Plus, every child has a unique learning style.
Three important considerations...
YOUR CHILD -- consider his/her talents and abilities, any
special needs, the attention span, language skills, learning style,
or personality. Does your child have any special
YOUR FAMILY SITUATION -- finances and transportation are
always major considerations. What schools are in walking or
driving distance? Is after-school care an issue? How will you
pay for schooling costs?
YOUR BELIEF SYSTEM -- where are you comfortable having your
child attend? Would it more comfortable for you to have
your child learning from teachers who share your belief system or
is that not an important priority for you?
Many parents assume school is like it was when they
attended. Not today. Technology advances, new state
requirements, added sports and other co-curriculars: all these have
dramatically changed education in the last decade. Smart
parents visit schools -- preferably while they are in session --
before enrolling their children.
On your visit, keep your eyes open and ask
questions. Some questions to ask include...
-- How many years of experience do the teachers
-- How well do the students do on standardized tests?
-- How well is the school equipped with computers in the
-- What programs and classes are considered the strength of this
-- How is the school funded?
Observe both the students and the teachers. Are
teachers positive and encouraging? Is it clear that they are
knowledgeable and prepared? Do the students appear motivated?
Are the students actively involved in the learning
process? Is discipline and effective classroom
management evident? If possible watch what happens at recess
or during a break. Is this school a safe place and inviting
place for your child?
Choose -- then get involved...
Armed with the information from your visits, it's time to
make a choice.
BUT don't stop there!
Parent involvement is an important element in the success of
your child's education. Stay involved by volunteering when
possible. Attend Parent-Teacher Conferences. Keep track
of your child's progress. Visit the classroom often and work
to develop a close relationship with your child's teacher. Be
there for special events that your child is involved in at school
-- concerts, plays, art fairs, ball games. When possible
volunteer to help chaperone for field trips and other
It will mean lots to your child . . . and lots to