Choosing a public school for your child to attend may seem like a daunting task. With open enrollments more and more available these days, many parents have the option of choosing just what public school their child can attend. There are many things a parent can do in order to make the best choice possible for their child.
- Plan an unannounced visit: When choosing a public school for your child, parents should drop in and visit the schools that are of interest to them. Don't set an appointment; don't tell anyone at the school that you are planning a visit. Drop in and see for yourself what things are like. Of course is it essential that you check into the office once you arrive, but by just dropping in you can see first-hand what the school is like when they aren't expecting you.
- Ask other parents: Many times parents are able to choose a good public school for their child by simply asking around. Find parents of children that attend the school of interest. Ask their honest opinions on the school. Ask students that attend those schools just what they think. By seeking people that have children in the school or children that actually attend the school, you can get some pretty honest opinions as to the quality of the public school.
- Check curriculum and teaching format: Many parents may like the looks or the reviews of certain public schools, but before you choose, ask to see what is being taught and how it is being taught. Just because it is a public school doesn't mean each school is teaching the exact same thing in the exact same manner. Once you know how subjects are taught, you can choose what may be the best fit for your child. What if the school has curriculum that you think is outstanding, but the teachers tend to lecture when teaching it and you know your child doesn't learn well through endless lectures? Perhaps that school isn't for you. There may be another public school teaching something similar but doing it in a project-based environment and you know your child would succeed in that atmosphere. It is not only important what is being taught in the school, but how it is being taught.
- Meet the staff: Choosing a good public school for your child means meeting the people who work there. If you meet as many of the staff at each school, you can get a feel for what they are like and whether or not you think it would be a good fit for your child.
- Academic awards: Parents are often reassured by schools that win awards for academic achievement or for various other scholarly things. Awards can sometimes indicate overall scholarly excellence of a school, but just because a school is award-winning doesn't mean your particular child will thrive there. There is more to a school than test scores and awards.
- Non-academic considerations: Make your choice of public school based on other factors as well. Does your child love drama? If so, then check into the school's drama department. Obviously, if the school doesn't have one, that school may not be right for your child. What sports does the school offer? If wrestling isn't offered at that particular school and your son loves to wrestle, then it would be smart to consider another school.
It's very important to find out what kinds of extracurricular activities each school offers, especially if you have a child who wishes to join various sports teams and social or academic clubs. If the school doesn't have the types of programs your child wants, then it is best to check with other public schools.
Now that so many public schools are admitting children outside of the district, or from neighboring schools within the district, parents have more choices about their children's education. It is up to the parents and children to determine which school will serve them best!