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Picking The Right School For Your Children

It’s February which means new school applications are in full effect and parents are going to different open houses to pick the right school for their children. 

What determines the right school whether you’re thinking of private, public or homeschooling? A fellow parent brought this topic to my attention and being that I‘ve had my fair share of dilemma with the very subject, I thought now would be a great time to discuss the issue.

September will be here before we know it!

As a parent, what are you looking for in your child’s school? What does that school provide that other schools do not? Those were the first questions I asked myself when thinking of where I would place my kids.

First day of Fist Grade for Isabella (circa: 2013)
First day of 5th and 1st Grade for Isabella and Lorenzo (see how fast times flies)
Take a look at some helpful ideas I gathered from different parents including myself on what you can do before placing your child in any given school. 

Private Education- Ask yourself why? Why go private- is it for faith reasons or because the schools in your area are not rated well? Do you have special requirements that public schools cannot meet? If private education is the route you want to go, research different ones in your area, check when they have their open house and schedule appointments with the school administration. Below are some key points you will need to know before making your final decision about which private school to enroll in.

1. Know the Budget- what are you willing to pay to send your kids to private school.

2. Financial Aid is always available to parents that ask for it and meet the requirements. Do your research.

3. Check for accreditation and Blue Ribbons.

4. What are your main needs- ask the following questions:

  • ‍ Class sizes
  • What curriculum they follow- is it more advanced than other schools?
  • Diversity- check the ratio of children in each classroom
  • Accessibility to teachers and school staff
  • Before and After Care
  • Tutor options- included in school fee or extra charge?
  • Extracurricular activities- sports/book club/drama
  •  Can they work with special needs children?
  • Advance placement in any given subject
Depending on where you live, going to private school may or may not be the best option for your children. Here are some pointers for public education:

Public Education- Zoning is key when it comes to the public education system. Where you live matters big time. Therefore, if you are looking to move, always make sure the school system is top rated before choosing your next home.  Similar to private schools, going to open house and scheduling appointments with the principal will help you determine if the school meets your child’s needs.  Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

1. Look up Charter schools in your local area!  Charter schools are tuition-free schools that operate independently from the traditional school district. These schools are open to everyone and provide high-quality instruction from teachers.

2. Check your school ratings and read reviews from other parents. Talk to your neighborhood parents as well, most often they will give you great insight.

3. Same as private schools, check for accreditation and Blue Ribbons as well as what your main needs are (tips #3 & 4 above) to make your decision on picking the right school.

Lastly, there are people that do not want their children in public schools and cannot afford private education, or the commute is too far, or they simply do not like the schools in their area. In these situations, Home Schooling is an option that most parents seem to forget. I have never tried to homeschool my kids, but I have friends that have done it in the past and some that are still doing it and why not? With the technology we have today, homeschooling has become a tool that parents use all over the world.

This option isn’t for everyone though. It takes lots of structure and patience on the parents’ part. Here are some beneficial tips to keep in mind: 

1. REAL TALK- You know yourself- ask why you are doing this? Pros and Cons list work best for me.

2. Do your research on the different home-schooling programs available to you and how much they cost.

3. Look into co-up home schools- that way you can get help from like-minded mothers.

 Here are some insights from moms that homeschool their children:

— Homeschooling was the right fit for my family. The panicked mornings of looking for shoes, forgotten forms, and waiting in carpool lines never brought out the mom I aspired to be.  We based our curriculum on our interests, our faith, and our field trips. It was fun! Homeschooling allowed my family to grow closer.

— I always wanted to be a stay at home mother, and after interviewing tons of schools and not finding the perfect fit for my twins, I decided to take it upon myself to teach them. I love it and haven’t stopped since. It’s hard at times, but the rewards of being able to teach my children and seeing them grow is worth every struggle. 

Lastly below is a descriptive idea of how one mother that homeschools her 3 children feels:

— Homeschooling is a journey just like parenting. Much like you imagine your perfect baby while your pregnant (calm, content, adorable bundle of joy) and learn that while it is amazing it’s also challenging when they cry and it takes trying different methods to figure out why, you think you have a routine down and then baby decides they’re hungry every hour and catnapping. You’re sleep deprived, need a shower and trying to figure out the next best step to get back to your routine. Baby smiles at you, your heart melts and you forget how exhausted and dirty you are.

With Homeschooling you get your classroom all ready, take time making elaborate lesson plans, think your kids are going to be so enthusiastic and appreciative and then you start and someone wakes up on the wrong side of bed and as their Mom they’re totally comfortable showing their true selves and aren’t very motivated to do schoolwork and you didn’t take this into account and the lesson must go on so you try to convince them of the amazing day you have planned! You lose motivation and your patience is tested. Then all the sudden, you hear your child pointing at the sky describing the cumulus clouds and how they’re formed and the feeling of joy and accomplishment is so great you’re on cloud9 (no pun intended).

Child 1 is totally engaged and loving the extended art project you planned, child 2 would rather make a cloud and child 3 is reading books on the topic. 3 children raised by the same parents, but each is unique in personality and learning styles.

As a teacher, you have your syllabus you need to get through and as Mom, you have your mental checklist of being compassionate, loving, teaching proper behavior, and being there for your child.

Your house gets messy, you feel rushed to get schoolwork, cleaning, meals prepared, bills paid, family and friends to keep in touch with, etc.

You homeschool because you want education to be an experience outside of workbooks, you want your child to grow up confident not compared to other children or labeled, you want to be there when they read their first word just like you were when they took there first steps, you want to give them freedom to express themselves, not spend so much time on trying to manage the class but use that time to explore, play, get out in nature, etc. You don’t want to give tests which really only measure how well you can retain information, not be an expert on the topic. You homeschool so you can travel to cool places without the crowd, go on field trips whenever you please. It’s a tough job but the most rewarding thing I’ve done outside of being a mother! 

Remember though, regardless of where or how your children get educated, it will all be useless if as parents, we are not active in their everyday lives. They need us to set great examples for them and teach them right from wrong.

Novena sending her siblings off on their first day

 As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. How did you determine where your children would go to school? What steps did you take?


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