Choosing a School for Your Child
When your child becomes of school age, you must make decisions about where your child will receive their education and what type of education you want them to receive. In today’s world, there are many options for you to consider. Not only is there the traditional neighborhood public school and traditional private school, but there are also a plethora of other schools like charter schools, magnet schools, and independent schools, not to mention home schooling. If you are not familiar with these different types of schooling, the thought of choosing the right educational environment for your child can be truly dizzying.
The first step in choosing a school for your child is understanding the different types of schools that are available to your child. Public schools are funded by federal, state and local funds. Traditional public schools are built in school districts and generally accept all students who live within that district. Nontraditional public schools include charter schools and magnet schools. Magnet schools were developed in the 1970s to increase diversity and offer highly specialized education to students of all walks of life. These schools have high academic standards and a competitive entrance process. Many magnet schools focus on the sciences or the arts to attract students outside of their school district.
Charter schools are organized by community members, parents, businesses or professionals to operate as autonomous entities within the public school system. Charter schools are not bound by the state regulations governing traditional public schools, and therefore, have more freedom in choosing how to run their program and teach their students. While charter schools may have a lot of latitude in their teaching methods and day-to-day operations, they must show that they are achieving higher academic success than the traditional public schools or risk being shut down. You can find more information about charter school from the U.S. Department of Education at http://www.charterschoolcenter.org/.
Private schools are educational facilities that are not funded by public sources. Rather, private schools are funded by charitable donations, grants, religious organizations, endowments, and charging tuition. Some private schools accept students from around the nation, therefore offering room and board to their students. Others are day schools that only accept students that have living arrangements in the vicinity of school. When a religious institution runs a private school it is called a parochial school. When a religious institution does not run a private school, it is called an independent school. Private schools do not have to meet state standards and operate on their own principles and expectations.
To decide what type of school is best for your child, it is a good idea to get information from several different schools in your area. You will want to consider
- school policies,
- dress code,
- class size,
- student-teacher ratio,
- distance from your home,
- academic achievements,
- results on standardized tests,
- parent involvement,
- disciplinary actions,
- school administration,
- cost, and
- school schedule
to determine if the school is a good fit for your child and your resources. As a father, no one knows your child better than you do. And as a father, no one will be more concerned about your son or daughter’s education than you are. Therefore, it is a good idea to take the time to find a school that will best meet your child’s needs.
A lot of the information you need to compare and choose schools should be readily accessible from each school’s Web page. Despite the information you can receive from reading about a school or hearing about a school, you will not gain a true understanding of what that school is like until you visit that school. To visit prospective schools, do not set up an appointment ahead of time. Drop in unexpected and ask for a tour. Also, be sure to visit the teacher your child will most likely have. If they do not seem like a genuine person or someone that you can communicate freely with, you may want to consider another school. If a school is not willing to show you around when you arrive unannounced, be wary; the school may try to arrange for a planned visit where they can create the picture of their school that they want you to see. Unscheduled visits are best to determine what a school is really like.
The U.S. Department of Education has developed a guide to help you know what to look for in a school for your child. That guide can be accessed at http://www.ed.gov.