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Finding the Right School for Your Child

My son is finishing up kindergarten this year, and now that we have been through the entire transition from preschool to Elementary school, we have learned a lot. We decided to switch schools because now that we have gone through the whole process, we know what our son needs, and his current school does not provide what we know he needs now.

Few decisions in the parenting journey weigh as heavily on our minds as choosing the right school for our kids. It's a decision that demands thoughtful consideration, as our children's educational environment can shape their growth and development. While online forums and social media groups may offer insights, they often present a whirlwind of opinions, some biased and often subjective. Thus, the responsibility lies on parents to conduct their own thorough research. Here is what I now recommend to parents when searching for the right schools (pre-school, primary, etc.)

The first step is to establish your non-negotiables. What aspects of a school are imperative for your child's well-being and academic progress? Is it the teacher-to-student ratio that favors smaller classroom sizes for more personalized attention? Perhaps you prioritize academic excellence, seeking out schools with top-tier ratings. Or maybe it's the electives & enrichment programs ensuring your child's interests and talents are nurtured beyond the academics. Discipline policies, school schedules, teacher retention rates, and parental involvement through programs like the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) or School Advisory Council (SAC) are crucial factors to consider.

Once you have your list of must-haves, it's time to explore. Compile a school roster that aligns with your criteria and schedule tours to see the school atmosphere and facilities and to be able to ask questions accordingly. These visits provide invaluable insights beyond the brochures and online reviews, allowing you to understand the school's culture, resources, and overall suitability for your child.

Once you've narrowed your options to a select few, seeking validation from peers, friends, and online communities is natural. However, it's vital to approach these opinions carefully. Every experience is subjective and based on individual circumstances and biases. Just because someone had a negative encounter doesn't necessarily mean your child will have the same experience. Hence, while external input can offer good perspectives, the ultimate decision rests on what works best for you and your family.

Remember, no school is perfect. Each school has its strengths and areas for improvement. What matters most is finding the right fit for your child's and family's unique needs. By prioritizing your non-negotiables and conducting thorough research, you empower yourself to make an informed decision that lays the foundation for your child's educational journey.

Listen to my insightful episode with Caitlin Meister, the Founding Director of The Greer Meister Group, a New York City-based private tutoring and educational consulting practice where you'll hear the #1 thing parents can do to make sure they're advocating for their child when it comes to academics and school, tips to help your children with homework, how to make it stress-free and questions to ask when looking for a school.  

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