I was one of the first of my friends to have a child, and it just so happens that I work in education- this automatically makes me the prime candidate for school related questions in my circle. Undoubtedly the most frequently asked question is, "How do I know when a school is right for my child?"
Here is my answer, always.
- Do your homework, explore your options, ask your friends about their experience, and choose a few (typically three) schools to tour that mirror your child's interests, learning style and needs.
- Call the schools and speak to the Admissions office. Ask the questions that are important to your family. If your child requires services, make sure they are available. Make a list of follow-up questions to ask on the tour.
- Consider the tuition, but don't let it intimidate you. Most schools have scholarships and welcome questions regarding financial aid. You should not let the tuition discourage you from applying.
- Book a tour with the schools that you believe will be the best fit for your child and then GET OUT OF THE WAY.
I believe that the fourth step is the most important. When you tour the school, bring your child and pay close attention to how they feel. You know your child better than anyone, and chances are you will know within five minutes if the school is the right fit for them. The visceral unlearned response; that overall feeling that you get walking in the door, meeting the staff and students, is a mirror of that school's educational habitat. Allow your child to explore that habitat, ask their own questions and make them part of the process. It is SO easy to impose our own learned behavior and educational beliefs on our children but they are the ones who will be learning at the school. Let them lead the way, your child will feel it, or they won't.
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