If your children are a year or a few months away from starting primary school, you may be putting a lot of effort toward qualifying them for the best private school in your city. Or you may just assume you “have to” send them to whatever public school is zoned for your neighborhood. Or anything in between.
Preferably, some healthy option in between, since neither apathy nor obsession with “success” is particularly good for children or for family relationships. If you’re unsure of your school preferences and options, take the following steps before beginning the enrollment process.
Clarify Your Child’s Needs
Not all children learn effectively under the standard “academic” model. Use what you know of your child to make a list of his or her:
Do everything possible to find a school that fits your child’s natural bent, and that believes in working with individual children’s unique strengths, rather than trying to squeeze everyone into one mold.
Review Your Options Carefully
Don’t make blanket judgments (“Private schools are too expensive. … Special-needs schools are too condescending”) that eliminate broad categories before you even consider individual options. And if a school has a proven reputation and suits your child’s interests and learning style, don’t cross it off after one quick glance at cost or location: find out what’s available in scholarships, after-school care, or other ways around the obstacles.
Meet the Teachers in Advance
Many schools already require or encourage advance introductions to any individual your child will be interacting with regularly. Otherwise, request a meeting—or at least a quick virtual chat—on your own, preferably including your child and considering his or her impressions. Make a point of coming across as a team player advancing shared goals, not an overprotective parent trying to personally police the school.
Consider How You Can Stay Involved
Your volunteer options don’t have to be limited to PTA member, field-trip chaperone, and material donor. Consider what you really enjoy doing and are good at (blog-post writing, sewing, etc.) and ask your preferred school about needs in these areas. Feel free to offer your own ideas as well. It brings all-around benefit when parents take an active role in helping the school run smoothly—and that does a lot toward making any school the right one for your child!
Note to Teachers
What will you say when someone asks, “Why should I enroll my child in your school?” Become familiar with your school’s key values, how these meet parents’ and children’s felt needs, and how to answer parents’ most common concerns. Most important: believe in the value of your school and your work, and others will too.
CONSIDERING SHADY OAK AS A PRIMARY SCHOOL
Shady Oak is dedicated to helping children master life’s most important skills, which hardly stop with academics. We emphasize the qualities that build an all-around effective life: understanding, problem-solving, and contributing. Check out our “6 Pillars” of purposeful education, or contact us to learn more.
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!