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June 17, 2024

Is It Time to Make a Switch? Choosing the Right School for Your Child

Post By:
Nicole Gonzalez-Cumberbatch
In-House Contributor
The Motherhood Village
Guest Contributor:

This year, I’ve recently navigated the transition from preschool to Elementary school with my son, who just finished up kindergarten. This kindergarten journey has been a learning experience for all of us, leading my husband and I to a better understanding of our son, and his needs. Through this process it became clear that, for a variety of reasons, his school couldn’t fully meet all of his needs. We decided to make a switch, and in many ways, this was more stressful than the transition to Kindergarten!

Few decisions in the parenting journey weigh as heavily on our minds as choosing the right school for our kids. With so many options today, it's a decision that demands thoughtful consideration, as our children's educational environment can shape their growth and development- for the better or the worse. While online forums and social media groups may offer insights, they often present a whirlwind of opinions, some biased and frequently subjective. Thus, the responsibility lies on parents to conduct their own thorough research. 

Do you have concerns about your child’s school being the right fit? Considering making a switch but overwhelmed by the options? Find yourself thinking in circles due to conflicting opinions from family, friends, online reviews and parent chat groups? 

Here is what I recommend to parents searching for the right school (preschool, primary, secondary, and beyond) for their children.

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The first step is to establish your non-negotiables. What aspects of a school are imperative for your child's well-being and academic progress? Is it the teacher-to-student ratio that favors smaller classroom sizes for more personalized attention? Do you prioritize academic excellence and seek schools with top-tier ratings? Or are you seeking electives, enrichment programs, access & exposure to a diverse range of disciplines that will ensure your child's interests and talents are nurtured alongside academics? Discipline policies, school schedules, teacher retention rates, and parental involvement through programs like the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) or School Advisory Council (SAC) are also crucial factors to consider. 

When you have a list of your must-haves, it's time to explore. Compile a school roster that aligns with your criteria and schedule tours to see the school atmosphere and facilities, and to be able to ask questions accordingly. These visits provide invaluable insights beyond the brochures and online reviews, allowing you to understand the school's culture, resources, and overall suitability for your child.

Once you've narrowed your options to a select few, seeking validation from peers, friends, and online communities is natural. However, it's vital to approach these opinions carefully. Every experience is subjective and based on individual circumstances and biases. Just because someone had a negative encounter doesn't necessarily mean your family will have the same experience. Hence, while external input can offer good perspectives, the ultimate decision rests on what works best for you and your family.

Remember, no school is perfect. Each school has its strengths and areas for improvement. What matters most is finding the right fit for your child's and family's unique needs. By prioritizing your non-negotiables and conducting thorough research, you empower yourself to make an informed decision that lays the foundation for your child's educational journey.

If you’re in the process of making a school switch or simply just thinking about it as you reflect on this past school year, listen to this insightful episode on my top rated podcast, The Motherhood Village, with Caitlin Meister, the Founding Director of The Greer Meister Group, a New York City-based private tutoring and educational consulting practice where you'll hear the #1 thing parents can do to make sure they're advocating for their child when it comes to academics, questions to ask when looking for a new school, and tips to help your children with a stress-free transition, homework, and more.