Moving to a new city can be exciting yet stressful. If you have children, it can even be downright terrifying. Are they going to adjust well? Will they make friends? How do I find a school that meets all of our family’s needs? These are many of the concerns families face when relocating. Finding the right educational option for your children usually ranks high on the list of priorities.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself when determining the “just right” school for your family:
What does our family know to be true?
If you ask yourself this question, you will get to the heart of what your family values most. Whether it be that curiosity is the key or failing forward is necessary, being able to answer this simple yet insightful values-based question will help you to decide if the heart of a school matches the heart of your family. When touring schools, keep your family’s values at the forefront of your thinking to see if you connect with the “feel” of a school so that you can ultimately make a choice that aligns with your spirit.
What do I already know about my child’s learning style?
You are your child’s first teacher and since birth you have probably gathered a ton of data about how your child interacts with the world around them. You probably know their interests, temperament, sleeping patterns, eating preferences, social strengths and weaknesses, as well as an array of other information. Arm yourself with this information when looking for the school that is the best fit for your child. That means that your child may not end up at the school closest to home or even at the school that all of your friends recommended. Driving a little bit longer or taking the route to a different part of the city may lead to an educational gem that you may have otherwise considered not an option.
What is the competitive advantage of this school?
The school you pick will likely depend on the hopes and dreams you have for your child. Everyone wants their child to be “successful” but we are not all visualizing the same image of success. Do you want your child to become a record-breaking athlete? A world-renowned concert pianist? Or a thriving entrepreneurial powerhouse? When shopping around the education market in your new city, consider what unique, competitive advantage each school brings to the table. Maybe it’s the location of the school in the heart of the city’s entrepreneurial hub which lends itself to exposure to guest experts and educational field trips. Or, maybe it’s the intimate parent experience provided by a small school setting which leads to playdates at the nearby park or movie theater.
What accreditations or distinctions does this school hold?
Research has shown that accreditation positively impacts the quality for both children and staff. National accreditation organizations provide a voluntary process for schools to improve the quality of their programs. The process of achieving accreditation usually involves an extensive self-study period and on-site visits by outside professionals to verify that quality standards are met throughout the school.
A number of organizations have developed accreditation systems to recognize programs that meet higher standards than those required by local and state regulations. When looking to enroll, ask the school: Which national organization are you accredited by? The process of preparing an school to be considered for accreditation could take several months to years. And the accreditation process itself, from application to official certification, is typically about a year. Due to this, there may be new, high-quality schools that do not yet have a national accreditation that you should still consider. If you find a great school but they are not yet accredited, you can ask: Do you have plans to apply for national accreditation? Or, where are you are in the process of accreditation?
How does the school support teacher development?
One important factor that is often overlooked by parents during the search for the perfect school is the level of teacher professional development and support. The quality of your child’s teacher is directly related to the quality of your child’s education. This does not mean you are looking for the teacher with the most years of experience. Instead, you are looking for educators who are constantly improving their craft and have adopted a growth mindset around not only the abilities of children but their own abilities as teachers to support the development of all students.