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Choosing a School: Part 1

This is the time of year when many parents are finalizing decisions regarding school for next Fall. Before you sign on the dotted line, there are some things to consider.

1. Evaluate before enrolling:

a. Who are you? Your educational background, economic situation, church affiliation/religious convictions, philosophy of life, personal goals, family goals and traditions, hopes and expectations for your children–all these things should be clarified before you make your choice of schools. b. What is the identity of the school? What are its stated purpose, mission, policies and procedures? Read these and make sure you clearly understand and agree with them before you enroll. If you’re unsure of anything, ask! c. Be sure to understand how the school defines itself and the meaning of its name–it may have the word “Christian” in its name, or “Montessori,” or “Classical.” Different schools define and express such terms in different ways. Make sure you understand what this particular school means by its name. d. Clarify your own preconceived ideas and expectations. If you are picky about certain things, (dress code policies, chapel, homework, etc.) admit it! It’s better to be clear about such things before you finalize your decision. Just be sure, again, to read ALL of the school’s materials carefully and thoughtfully–DO NOT expect the school to change in order to meet your expectations!

2. Be honest with yourself regarding how you view your child.

a. Can you accept the fact that your child (yes, even yours!) has the capability of behaving in ways that may be disobedient or disrespectful, even though you may never see such behavior at home? b. Can you accept the fact that ALL children (including yours!) will defend themselves, even to the extent of exaggerating, modifying the truth, or even lying on occasion? c. Are you willing to accept what the teacher says concerning your child, or are you more inclined to think the teacher is “picking on” your little darling? d. When it comes to these matters, would your spouse characterize you as being level-headed and reasonable, or defensive?

There are some excellent schools out there, but no one school can offer everything you want, or guarantee you will agree with everything they stand for. Find the best fit for you and your family, but don’t expect a school to accommodate your every wish, or never to disappoint you. Once you’ve made your decision, resolve to stay the course. While enrolling in a school isn’t quite the same as a marriage, it is a commitment. Don’t enroll with the thought that you can easily change schools if things don’t work out–expect the best, and maintain a healthy perspective!

In upcoming columns: ~ Choosing a School: Part 2 ~ Five Keys to a Happy, Successful Child ~ Question: Authority? ~ An Effective and Consistent Homework Strategy ~ Bullies…and Sissies?

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