- Take the time to evaluate what you value the most about education, and then focus on schools that do the best job at meeting those values.
- Pick a school that is the best fit for your child and his particular learning style.
- Class size matters – If you want individualized attention for your child, choose a school that focuses on smaller class size and greater results.
- Pick a school that plays to your child's strengths and weaknesses – Is a strong Music and Drama program important to her? Does he enjoy hands on learning and field trips? Does your child love athletics? Try to pick a school that will give her the most opportunity to do what she does best, and work on the areas where she needs the most help.
- Decide how important being a part of the school community is to you – Do you want an active Parent/Teacher Organization? Do you want to participate in committees and various volunteer opportunities? Are there opportunities for parents to engage in the classroom environment?
- Do the teachers actively build relationships with the child's parents? Determine what is important to you. If this is important, then explore schools that embrace and encourage parent involvement and strong parental/educator relationships.
- Use online resources to check out other parents' opinions on the schools you are considering.
- Make sure you visit the school and give your child a chance to see what the school is all about. Depending on your child's age, give him an opportunity to ask his own questions and feel a part of making the school choice.
- Trust your instincts. If your gut tells you a particular school is not a good fit, then move on to another school.
Ultimately your child's happiness and success is going to depend on how comfortable and how supported she feels in her new school environment. Following some of the above tips, utilizing on-line resources, and arranging school visits, will help make your school selection a smooth and satisfying experience.
The US Department of Education has a fantastic website for parents that outlines, in detail, what key things parents should consider when choosing a school for their child. The site also outlines the wide range of education options available to children, including public, charter, and private schools, as well as home schooling. You can find parent information at: http://www.ed.gov/parents/landing.jhtml and specific school choice information at: http://www.ed.gov/nclb/choice