Editor and Director of Savvy Family magazine and Savvy Family Expo events, Nadine Kohler was also a former private school Admissions Director. As a parent as well as, she knows the stress involved in choosing a school for your child. “There is the daunting feeling that the decision you make will impact them FOREVER,” says Nadine.
She has shared a few helpful guidelines with us here at AllMomDoes, knowing that many of us will be selecting and registering our kids for schools very soon for the 2018-2019 school year.
This post is sponsored by the Baby Bump and Savvy Family Expos, coming up in Tacoma on March 3rd.
Is this school location practical for you?
If the school is not convenient to your home and or work, this could be a difficult long-term school solution. The extra time needed to get to school could cause unnecessary stress for you and the kids.
Plus, if being a part of the school community is important to you, proximity to the school location helps immensely. Everything from PTA meetings, playdates, and “coffee with the principal” style events become harder to make happen if the location is not convenient.
How do you feel during the school visit?
If you don’t feel a positive vibe on your visit – get out. Don’t second guess yourself! As a parent, your instincts are important. The feel and culture of a school should be pretty apparent from the first time you visit.
We once visited a local public school and when we walked in the office, not a single person looked up from their phone or computer. We stood at the counter for an awkward few minutes and finally had to wave at someone and say, “Ummm.. hello?” to get their attention. Yikes. That visit didn’t last long.
Will your student thrive here?
This can be a really difficult question, but it really breaks down to taking a look at your child and their personality. Are they shy? Do they love the arts? Have they struggled at all in learning and need extra support in one area or another?
Consider the strong personality traits of your student and share these with an admissions director or principal to see what their response might be. Our oldest daughter is very musical, loves the arts, and gets overwhelmed with tests.
With her going into the fifth grade, we will be searching for a middle school and you better believe I want a school that will help her feel confident in test taking and also have art and music programs that she will thrive in!
What are the school’s test scores?
This is a controversial one. For low income areas, even though the school may have fabulous teachers, dedicated administrative staff, and great programs, often many students can be transient or unsupported at home which impact the overall test scores of the school. So, it’s something to consider, but perhaps not fully base your decision on.
In regards to test scores at private schools, make sure they are sharing results from a nationally or state-wide based testing program. Also, the scores need to be showing how they compare state-wide or nationally, not within the school.
Sounds funny, but some schools will have test scores published that (intentionally or not) only show how a handful of students average from one grade level but appear to be listed as school-wide.
Keep in mind that it’s never too late to change schools! Yes, some schools will fill up so choosing your school early does indeed help. But if you find that a school just isn’t a good fit, don’t be afraid to try something new and research other schools. Schedule a classroom visit, take your student along, meet other families at drop off or school pickup to see if a switch feels right.
Be sure to join AllMomDoes at the Savvy Family Expo event on March 3rd at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center to visit local school booths (like Christian Faith School, Tacoma Charter Schools, Seabury, and MORE), find great family resources, and have some indoor family fun!
Children 12 and under are FREE and tickets are on sale now.