5 watch-outs when you’re choosing a school for your child

Choosing or changing schools is a big decision. And of course, you want to find the best fit for your child. Here are five things to watch out for, whether you’re thinking about traditional public schools, charter schools, or private schools.

1. Visiting only once

First impressions are important. But you may not get all the information you need if you only visit a school one time. Let’s say a teacher seemed unenthusiastic. Is it just an off day? Or is it a sign of bigger problems at the school?

A second visit can give you a better idea. Ask to spend time in a classroom so you can see the teacher with students. Also ask for the names of parents or caregivers who might talk to you about their experiences with the school.

2. Judging by appearances

Sure, you want to pick a school that’s attractive, with all the newest technology. But looks aren’t everything.

Some schools may not have the latest technology. But they might have engaged and well-trained teachers who can bring out the best in their students. That includes kids with learning and thinking differences.

Good teachers can make all the difference in your child’s education. When you visit schools, ask to visit classrooms so you see teachers in action. Take your child to visit the school and make sure it’s a welcoming place.

3. Not asking enough questions

It’s helpful to know if a school has a good reputation or gets high marks from other families. But their child may have different needs than yours does.

Use school ratings tools to get information. And try to connect with other parents and caregivers whose child has similar challenges. You can ask the school for some contacts and search in online communities.

A school’s culture can make a big difference in how accepted your child will feel. Ask the school lots of questions, including how it will support your child academically, emotionally, and socially.

4. Forgetting to factor in location

A great school is worth a long commute. But what about a school that seems only slightly better than the one in your neighborhood? Long rides to and from school might limit the amount of time your child has for homework, afterschool activities and sports. Living far from school can also make it hard for your child to socialize with other kids from school.

5. Focusing too much on academics

Academics are important. But so is your child’s social and emotional growth. A school that puts a lot of emphasis on reading skills in kindergarten may sound great. But make sure there’s a focus on social skills, too. High school is a time for kids to explore their strengths and passions — not just figure out where they‘ll go to college. Pick a school based on all areas of your child’s growth.


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