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 preschool 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 schools.
Don't stop there, though. Research 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. Most cities offer a listing of schools and often these have links to school websites.
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 needs?
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 that school is like it was when they attended. Not today. Technology advances, new state requirements, added sports and other cocurriculars: 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 have?
-- How well do the students do on standardized tests?
-- How well is the school equipped with technology tools?
-- What programs and classes are considered the strength of this school?
-- 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 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 occasions.
It will mean lots to your child . . . and lots to you!