Parents Have Many Options in Making a School Choice

Finding a school that meets your child’s unique way of learning will make your child’s education more meaningful and ultimately a more valuable commodity. In today’s world, education is a passport to success in life. When your child’s school experience is a good-enough fit, problems such as homework completion, teacher-student alienation, and social and behavioral defiance are limited. Parent-child “entrenchment in negativity about school performance” is less prevalent and less emotionally consuming for the entire family. Attainment of an education is played out naturally, as the child searches for meaning in his/her life.

School choice is a crucial parental decision now that the standardization of teaching in public education has taken over. Parents who want a more well-rounded learning experience for their child must look at alternative options to avoid the rigidity and depersonalization of their neighborhood school. Fortunately for everyone, parents are educating themselves in the art of child-raising. Enlightened parents are more aware of the power they have in making a meaningful decision about their child’s education.

Thoughtful parents see education as an investment in their child’s future. Reflective parents do their homework about different kinds of school experiences. Children are more outspoken about the problems they have at school because they know that their parents are participants in their day-to-day education. Kids see mom and dad go to parent conferences and attend school meetings. Children gain a voice through their parents’ interests in their academic and social emotional development.

Right beside more parental involvement is an understanding that children not only have distinct learning styles, but some school situations are more productive for each type of learner. The over-used soundbite “no one size fits all” applies. What is right for your family is very different than what is right for the neighbor’s children or your sister’s children.

Issues to Consider When Choosing a School

Type of Curriculum Design
When choosing a school, understand what type of curriculum design is being used. The most common is a traditional curriculum that is directed by objectives handed down by the state and school district. Public schools on the whole are traditional. Private college prep schools are also likely to have a traditional curriculum. A traditional approach to learning is very appropriate for children who like to do school work and like to succeed. It is difficult curriculum for children who are very creative or have special needs. Social emotional learning is valued as secondary to academic achievement.

Project Centered
A more open-minded and hand-tailored approach to curriculum is called project centered or a constructivist curriculum. Children learn by interacting with their teachers and fellow students the basics of academics and social emotional learning. This type of education is best for creative and curious children who like to learn by doing or exploring. Children with special needs do well in this type of learning environment.

Home Schooling
Home schooling is an individualized approach to learning. The teacher may be mom or dad or a learning institution that provides teachers to go out to the home. This approach is good when a student has special needs or is extremely difficult to work with. Other reasons for home schooling can be a religious belief or a long travel distance from an appropriate school. Homeschoolers have networks so they can connect with other families. Still, home schooling is a very ambitious decision.

Learning Style of Your Son or Daughter    
All children have unique learning styles. From personal and professional experiences, I know that even identical twins process information differently. Accepting that children have their own particular learning style is essential because it helps you relate to your child’s way of learning. Know your child’s strengths. Know your child’s learning struggles. Work carefully with what they love to do and what they seriously want to avoid. Always be sure to share your sense of what your child has accomplished with them. Let your child know that you are their partner in learning.

You may think that you cannot understand what a learning style really is, but you are mistaken. Countless books have been written on different types of learning styles. Make yourself familiar with these ideas that may be new for you. Ask your child’s teacher what she sees helping your child being successful in school.

Financial Realities
Over-stretching your budget to fit into private school will be a big mistake if you have to take your child out of school when you run out of money. Being the poorest family at school and struggling to make ends meet all of the time creates unnecessary stress on children. If you change schools later, friends can be lost along with the comfort of routine. Spending extra money that you don’t have is not a good parenting strategy.

Look at all the options available to you given what you need for your child and what is available. Public schools have different options that parents need to explore and possibly advocate for their child. The parents who are the most persistent are the ones who are most successful in finding a good school match.