Smart School Choice builds Strong Kids
Developing a selection scorecard to place your student in the best school to meet their needs
Recently I had dinner with my friends Bill and Nancy Palmer and the subject of school choice came up; mostly because at one time they had each of their five children in five different schools. If you think that schedule sounds crazy, then you’ve never met the five remarkable young adults they raised who have launched successfully out into the world. It was extremely stressful at times to keep things organized but they were committed to building strong kids and were creative enough to always find options to help each child grow in strength and confidence. How did they do it? Simple, they picked the educational experiences that were the best fit for each of their children at each stage of life regardless of convenience.
Many times parents are afraid of school change, or don’t realize they have so many choices available to them in guiding their kids toward their strength zone. First let’s look at what makes a ‘good’ school actually ‘good.’ Since it’s not really one thing it’s a combination of many factors that when combined together can create a learning environment which can brings out the best in your child. Here are some of the most common elements to consider when you begin the process of selecting a school to bring out the best in your son or daughter.
-Key factors of a ‘good’ school:
Strong parental involvement, as the old saying goes, a school is only as strong as the level of parental support that it receives. Clear community support, especially from elected officials. Focused school leaders, especially in administrative roles. Well structured academic programs to cover different learning styles. Committed and caring teachers focused on the needs of their students. A safe and secure learning experience. Budgets that allow for extra-curricular activities to positively impact multiple areas of development, such as the arts, music, journalism, ROTC, languages and sports. Guidance departments focused on a personalized plan to help students achieve who ‘think outside the box’. Smart classrooms with access to current and cutting edge computer and Internet technology. A learning experience that honors your families faith and values, instead of attacking or shaming your child for holding onto a strong system of faith.
Of course any parent would want the best for their children, but it’s been my experience that the word ‘best’ actually floats on many variables through the different stages of childhood. So, since ‘best’ isn’t actually a single school campus this opens the door to explore many experiences that often accelerate the learning environment for the kids who live at your house.
This can only happen when you begin to see that the main goal is to find out what needs your the child is facing to then select the school choice that can guide them to a position of greater strength. This just going along with whatever may have worked for your child last year. Remember, a child’s maturity changes year to year, and for many kids this means their academic choices should change with it.
– Chart to solve the confusion of discovering the best schools
Begin to make smart school choices to help your child be their best by building a chart to literally ‘score’ the school options available to your child on a legal pad, running across the top of the page. You should include every option you can think of to do a complete analysis of what is available to your child.
Even if you only think that you have one option, really sit down to consider the school choices available to your child in the coming school year. This way you will be able to actually track the metrics to see a visual number at the bottom of the page to see what each school choice brings to the table in best meeting the needs of your son or daughter at any stage of their educational development.
Here’s a sample of how to structure across the top of the page, except it’s more personal and more powerful if you actually place the name of each of the schools you are considering in that particular column, (for instance list out the choices facing your child, like: Orange County High, Mountain Prep, Holy Family, The Community School, Math Magnet Prep, Military Leadership Academy or an online virtual school)
Smart School Options:
Public- College Prep- Christian- HomeSchool- Charter- Boarding-Private- Magnet-Military- Online or Virtual School and so on
Once you have created a list across the page of every available option you have available to meet the needs of your child, then it’s time to add the list of variables, (preferably in order of importance to you in meeting the unique needs of your child), to rank or score each school 廣播系統 choice against your own personal standard of what’s most valuable to bring out the best in your son or daughter. Create this list on the left margin of your legal pad and include factors like the following.
Smart School Features includes a combination of major factors like:
Safety, Academics, Great Teachers, Strong leaders, Involved parents, PTA-PTF groups, Location, Transportation, Costs or tuition, Friends/peers, Fits child’s personality, Fits career goals, Fits academic goals, School size, Well equipped classrooms, Class size to teacher ratio, Campus well maintained, Clean school facilities, Hot lunches and cafeteria, Wide range of sports, After school activities, Tutoring- academic help, Music, choirs, band, Fine arts and drama, Bible, world view or faith building classes, After school activities or child care, Clubs, FCA, DECA, OJT, and so on for social connection, School life- socials and proms, Trips- unique learning experiences, SAT or ACT prep classes, Strong guidance department, Tuition assistance programs, Partnerships with community groups (Boys & Girls Clubs, Scouting, etc), Partnerships with business groups to develop early career success, (like Junior Achievement, career training)