|Selecting a school for your child|
|Tuesday, 01 November 2011 21:41|
IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT SCHOOL
Article by : www.education.com
Four Steps for Selecting the School That Is Right for Your Child
Write Down Five Things That Are Most Important to You
Your Child's Needs
Does your child need a less structured environment?
Does your child need more challenging work?
Does your child need more individual attention?
Does your child generally need extra help or more time to complete an assignment?
Does your child have any special learning needs?
Does your child need an environment that fosters creativity?
Does your child need an English language acquisition program?
Your Child's Learning Style
Does your child learn best by reading about how something works?
Does your child learn best by listening?
Does your child like to participate in discussions?
Does your child like to learn through physical activity?
Is your child logical or mathematical?
Is your child musical or artistic?
Does your child like to learn in groups?
Does your child like to work alone?
Location of School
Can your child's talents be nurtured outside your neighborhood?
How far are you willing to have your child bused?
How far are you willing to drive your child to school?
Does your child want to be in a school with his or her friends?
Do you want your child to go to a school near your after-school care? Near where you work? Near a close relative?
Does your child have any special transportation needs that must be considered in choosing a school?
Step 2: Gather Information About Schools
Along with the schools' curricula and philosophy, you will want to know about school policies and services. Parents may also wish to consider the after-school programs a school offers, for example, sports, clubs, tutoring, or academic enrichment. Some schools have after-school activities funded by the U.S. Department of Education's 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. These centers provide educational activities outside of the regular school hours'before and after school or during summer vacation' that complement what is taught in school. You may also want to ask if the school has supplemental educational services, including free tutoring, that are offered outside of the regular school hours under No Child Left Behind.
What courses does the school offer in addition to the core subjects?
What evidence is there that the school is effectively teaching students to read?
Does the school have a special focus or theme for the curriculum?
Does the school offer challenging courses such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and high school honors courses?
Does the school provide enrichment opportunities for all students? For gifted students?
Does the school have extracurricular activities that support what is taught?
Is there an effective English language acquisition program for children who need it?
If your child has special learning needs, does the school have a curriculum and the necessary supports to appropriately accommodate those needs?
Approach to Learning
If yes, do you think your child will enjoy and learn from this approach?
Does the school do all it can to make sure each child learns? Does it provide opportunities for children to get extra help when they need it?
Is the school staff able to communicate in the language that your child understands?
Are children with limited English language skills, learning disabilities, or other special needs learning and performing well on tests?
What is the homework policy? Does it match your expectations for how much homework your child should do?
Do you want your child to go to a singlesex (all-boy or all-girl) school, or a coeducational school?
How large are the classes?
In the past few years, have test scores risen or declined?
How does the school explain the rise or decline? How well have children similar to yours performed on these tests?
How do students moving on to the next level of schooling perform in their new schools?
How many students leave the school before completing the last grade?
What special achievements or recognition has the school received?
What is the discipline policy? How does the school handle students who misbehave?
Are teachers fair in their responses to students? Does the school have a program and supports to prevent and address behavior problems?
Are students allowed to leave school by themselves?
What measures has the school taken to ensure safety? What security measures are in place?
What is the policy on school absences? How does the school encourage daily attendance?
Do school personnel call parents when students are absent?
Does the school have a drug and alcohol abuse prevention program?
Does the school have a dress code?
Do students wear uniforms?
How does the school prevent and handle problems with drugs, alcohol, and tobacco?
How does the school prevent and handle violence, bullying, harassment, and other forms of abusive behavior?
What measures does the school take to ensure safety? What security measures are in place?
What is the school's relationship with the local police?
Is there a police officer on duty during school hours and for extracurricular activities?
What information is available on serious crime in the school?
What information is available on students bringing weapons to school?
Does the school have an emergency plan for local and national emergencies?
What does the school do to ensure that parents and all school administrators know the emergency plan?
Are there drills?
How does the school notify parents about emergency closings? How does the school communicate with parents in other languages?
Do all students have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities?
What interscholastic activities are available to students?
What intramural activities are available to students?
What activities receive the most attention and resources?
Are there school and student publications?
Does the school sponsor field trips?
Are they available to all students?
Are publications for parents available in other languages?
Facilities and Services
Is there interlibrary loan?
Is time provided in the day for students to go to the library?
Do students have access to computers and to the Internet in the classroom and library?
Is use of the Internet monitored?
Is there an auditorium or a large room for school assemblies?
Is a school nurse on duty daily?
Is there a cafeteria, and does the school offer a nutritionally well-balanced lunch program? Breakfast program?
Is supervised before- and afterschool care offered?
Are there tutoring programs?
Are counseling services available to students?
Is the school accessible to children with mobility limitations?
Admissions Procedures for Public Schools of Choice and Private Schools
What is the application deadline?
Is anything else required in the application (test scores, interview, recommendations, application fees, etc.)?
Are test scores required for admission?
What are the ranges of scores for admitted students?
Do admissions requirements include a portfolio, an audition or statement of interest?
Are there any other admissions requirements?
Are admissions requirements published in languages other than English?
Additional Questions About Private Schools
Is there a payment plan?
Is there a sliding scale for tuition, based on parish, church affiliation, or family income?
What are the other fees and expenses (room and board, uniforms, books, transportation, lab and computer fees, activity fees)?
What scholarships and loans are available?
Are students or their parents required to be of a particular faith?
Does the school have a policy on student participation in religious instruction and worship?
Does the school close for religious and federal holidays?
Does the school have the same schedule as the local public school?
Additional Questions About Home Schools
Is there a suitable place for your child's study and instruction?
Do you, your spouse, or another homeschooling parent have adequate free time to be available to your homeschooling child?
Do other families in your area homeschool their children?
Is there a support group of homeschoolers near you?
If you are interested in some outside instructional support, have you checked your local library, parks department, scouting organizations, public and private schools, and similar resources?
Have you searched the Web for resources on instruction, legal issues, support groups, and other matters?
Have you identified other resources you will need?
Have you checked state regulations? (They are usually available on the web or from your local public school or school district.)
Step 3: Visit and Observe Schools
A good way to have your questions answered is to schedule an appointment with the school principal. If possible, attend an open house, parent-teacher meeting, or other school function that would also provide valuable information about the attitudes of staff, students, and parents.
Listen closely to what teachers say about the school. The teachers will be the adults closest to your child, and you will want to know if they are well prepared, dedicated, and happy in their work.
Is the school orderly and neat?
What do the bulletin boards look like?
How is student work displayed?
How does the school communicate with students and parents (weekly/monthly newsletter, e-mail, Web site)?
Do the students appear to be courteous, happy, and disciplined?
Is there a welcoming attitude toward all parents?
How are the students with diverse learning needs (e.g., students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency) treated?
Do the teachers appear to be helpful and friendly?
What is the principal's attitude toward discipline?
In what extracurricular activities is the principal most interested?
What is the principal's reputation in the community?
Is the principal usually at the school and available to talk to parents?
Does the principal get to know the students?
How often does the principal observe teachers?
What does the school do to keep good teachers and improve teacher performance?
How does the principal respond to parental concerns/complaints?
What is the principal's attitude toward students with diverse learning needs (e.g., students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency)?
According to the principal, what are the school's strengths?
According to the principal, what are the school's weaknesses?
According to the principal, where can the school improve?
Do teachers have high expectations for all students to achieve to high academic standards?
How do teachers inform students of their expectations?
Do teachers share the course content and objectives with parents?
When and how frequently are teachers available for parent conferences?
Do teachers assign homework? Is it rigorous? Frequent? Sufficient?
Are the teachers highly qualified to teach in their subject areas (do they know the subjects they are teaching)?
Do teachers have the skills and knowledge to address students with special learning needs?
Are specialized staffs available to address the special learning needs of a child (e.g., speech therapist, psychologist or aides)?
Do the teachers know the individual students in their classes?
Are teachers willing to provide extra help to students?
What is the school's policy regarding teacher response to parent inquiries?
Do teachers have Web sites with class notes and other information for students and parents?
What do students say about the principal?
What do students say about the teachers?
Do the students have school spirit?
What do students say about homework?
Do students participate in and enjoy field trips?
Do students feel safe and secure at the school?
What do student publications say?
What else do students say about the school?
Parent and Community Involvement
What are the ways parents can get involved?
Are parents encouraged to volunteer?
Does the school have an active parent- teacher organization?
Does the school hold meetings and events at times when parents can attend?
How well attended are back-toschool nights by parents?
Are families expected to be involved with homework?
How frequently does the school communicate with parents?
Are community leaders involved with the school?
Does the school partner with local businesses and organizations?
Are parents involved in the development of school policies?
How is the school viewed by other parents?
Is the school respected by other schools, particularly those that receive its students (when they move to the next level)?
Has the school won any awards?
Do people move to the community to go to the school?
What do the graduates of the school say?
Have graduates from the school made significant contributions to the community and their field of choice?
Step 4: Apply to the Schools You Choose
You will want to begin this process as early as possible in order to ensure you meet all the deadlines.
Admissions processes can vary. Your child may need to be tested or interviewed, and you may need to provide a school transcript, recommendations, or other information. It would be helpful to learn about admissions criteria for the schools. You will want to double check to be sure you have accurate information on when and how to apply.
Select One or More Schools to Apply to
What is the application deadline at each school?
Submit paperwork and applications before the deadlines
Have you included all of the required additional information with the application (deposit, student transcript, test scores, letters of recommendation)?
Have you submitted applications before the deadline set by each school?
When will the schools notify you that your child has been admitted?
When will you need to notify the school that your child plans to attend?
When will you notify the schools that your child will not attend?