Finding a New School Checklist

Looking for a new public, charter or private option for your child? The eight steps on our finding a school checklist can help you make the right choice.

Education options for kids can be enough to make any parent’s head spin. Looking for a little direction on making the leap? Whether you’re thinking of switching schools or choosing one fresh out of the gate, try these eight tips to find the public, private or charter school that’s right for your child.

1. Assess your child’s needs.

Would he or she work better in a smaller classroom environment? Will your child need tutoring? Some schools offer it for free. Does he or she want to play sports, be involved in after-school activities or learn a new language?

Not all schools will have the extracurricular programs that your child is interested in. If your child has any special needs, make sure the school is equipped to assist with them. Really get a sense of what your child’s “musts” are, and be sure that the schools you are looking at have those programs and features.

2. Assess your needs.

Now that you’ve considered your child’s needs, take stock of your own. If you want religion-based curriculum, then a private school is the way to go. If you are not interested in paying tuition, public school could be your option. Charter schools, which are also public, offer additional options and facilities that are not regulated like traditional public schools.

3. Whittle down your options.

Once you have assessed both your child’s needs and your needs, you can narrow down the school choices in your area and call to get literature about each school. Ask about tuition costs, if applicable, and wait-list time. Evaluate each of the schools based on their disciplinary policies, curriculum and programs. You can even ask for a copy of the curriculum and a syllabus.

4. Review online information.

Take a peek at the school’s website. Scroll through the list of teachers and administrations, read articles on the school and research the programs offered there. Exercise all the resource options that are available to you.

5. Call to set up an appointment.

Once you’ve picked your top choices or decided on one school, schedule a tour and talk with administrators and teachers. These are, of course, the people who are going to be teaching and disciplining your child!

It’s best to make sure you have an understanding of the school’s structure. Plus, this gives you a chance to check out the facility to make sure it offers everything you’re looking for.

6. Drop in on the school.

Do an impromptu visit to see the school in action. Observe student and teacher behavior and ask yourself if the teachers are demonstrating enthusiasm. If so, are students responsive in class? Also, check out the cleanliness of the school.

7. Seek out other opinions.

Talk to parents who have children in the district. Listen to their complaints or praise about the school. Other parents may be able to tell you a little more about things like the presence of bullying or how well disciplined the students are.

8. Settle on a school.

Weigh your needs and all the information you’ve acquired to make an informed choice for your child’s educational needs. The time and thought you put into this choice will be well worth it.

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