Selecting the best elementary school for your family has become a lot more complicated over the years. Here are some proven tips to help you successfully navigate the process.
1. Create Your Selection Criteria List
Knowing what you want makes your search much more effective. Creating a list of what you and your family need is the best place to start. Here are some questions to consider when creating your list.
What are your basic needs?
- Do you need a school that’s close to your home or your office?
- Do you want online, hybrid, or classroom education?
- Do you need before and after school care?
- Does the school offer extracurricular programs?
What do you want your child to learn?
- Do you want your child to learn a foreign language? Does the school offer a robust language program?
- Does the school offer fine arts classes like music, drama, art, and other related courses?
- Are you looking for a school that offers more science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes?
What are the school’s expectations for students and parents?
- How does the faculty and staff ensure students enjoy a safe learning environment?
- How are teachers supported so that educational objectives are consistently met or exceeded?
- What kind of student support program does the school offer?
- In what ways can parents get involved in school activities?
Overall school performance?
- What are the educational requirements for teachers? (Experience, education, certification)
- What are the average class sizes and student to teacher ratios
- Does the school’s overall performance meet your expectations? (Standardized test scores, rankings, other performance metrics)
2. Gather and Analyze Information
You can gather a lot of information online and through your network of neighbors, family, friends, and co-workers. Just keep in mind that some of what you learn may or may not be accurate or relevant.
For example, online reviews can be an interesting source of information. Focus on most recent news and consider your source – the reputation of the origin of information, and why that source has this information to share.
An online review from an unknown source from 5-years ago is less relevant than what you may learn from friends who currently have children enrolled in the school.
3. Tour the School
The best way to truly learn about the school is to see it in action. Going to the school, meeting the faculty and staff, and seeing how the children go about their day will give you a first-hand look at the school culture and learning environment.
And depending on your child, you may want to ask about “Shadow Days,” where your child can visit the school and follow another student for the day. This will give your child the opportunity to see what an average school day is like and how the school works – from attending classes to eating lunch with classmates.
Children’s Learning Styles – There are four learning styles – visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic. Knowing how your child learns can be crucial to selecting the right elementary school.
10 tips for choosing the Best School for Your Child. Public School Review. (n.d.). Retrieved January 24, 2022, from https://www.publicschoolreview.com/blog/10-tips-for-choosing-the-best-school-for-your-child
Milgrom-Elcott, T. (2021, January 11). Six must-haves for a great school (spoiler: They don’t show up on your average check-list). Forbes. Retrieved January 24, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/taliamilgromelcott/2019/01/17/run-through-this-checklist-before-choosing-your-childs-school/?sh=751c56286fee
Tucker, G. C. (2021, July 15). Checklist: What to look for on a grade school visit. Understood. Retrieved January 24, 2022, from https://www.understood.org/articles/en/checklist-what-to-look-for-on-a-grade-school-visit
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