BY OLYA FESSARD JAN 2018
TIPS TO AID YOU IN CHOOSING THE PUBLIC SCHOOL THAT BEST SUITS YOUR CHILD
One size doesn’t fit all. In finding the right school for their family, parents often have little more to go on than their own experience or the advice of neighbors or realtors. Selecting the right school can be tricky and hard work. Here are tips to aid you in choosing the best public school—or any type of school—for your child.
One of the most important decisions your family will ever make is where your child will go to school. Choosing the best school for your child depends upon an awareness of his educational needs and a clear idea of your family’s values about education. Before you begin investigating schools, be sure to determine your child’s needs and what your family wants from a school.
Your Child’s Needs
When searching for the right school, you would do well to arrange a visit with your child’s present teacher to discuss his or her assessment of your son or daughter’s educational needs. This would be a good time to start a file containing your child’s education records and professional assessments. Such documentation can be valuable when addressing your individual student’s placement at a new school. If your child hasn’t attended any school yet, try to get an assessment of his present strengths and weaknesses by working with his preschool or kindergarten teacher.
Parents will want to think about their child’s personality, learning style, and any special needs. Does the child need the structure that a traditional school setting would provide, or does he or she prefer to explore and take more personal responsibility for learning? Could she benefit from some type of alternative schooling approach? Does the child respond differently to being in small and large groups? If, for example, a child learns best in small, cooperative work groups, then parents may want to consider finding a school that uses this instructional strategy. If a child has a special interest in music or a foreign language, then some preference might be given to a school that offers or excels in those areas in its regular curriculum or through after-school programming or clubs.
Family Values & Needs
What’s important to your family in the education of your child? Take the time to explore this question, and make a list of ideals that are important to your family. In addition to family values, practical considerations such as transportation and tuition costs for private education are important. When you know what your child needs and what’s important to your family, you’re ready to evaluate new schools.
The Plus Side of Going Public
Every child is unique, and while some fare better in private school settings, there are many who thrive in public schools. Before you make a decision about your child’s education, give Middle Georgia public schools a second glance. The systems boast some special and unique programs that just might be the ideal fit for your child.
There are a number of magnet schools that offer specialized curricula in subjects from mathematics to performing arts, with the goal of bringing together talented students of different social, ethnic, economic, and racial backgrounds. Generally, each magnet school also serves its geographical area. This creates a more diverse student body for all students. Many magnet schools offer a way to get an excellent education for your child without paying private school tuition.
Given the size and scope of most public schools, athletic programs tend to be top-drawer, offering athletes the chance to work with seasoned coaches and compete in baseball, softball, golf, basketball, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, and of course, football.
Knowing your options under the law if your child is in a school in need of improvement is not an easy task after Georgia was released from the “No Child Left Behind Act.” Georgia legislation and the Georgia Department of Education policies have become an ever-changing hodge-podge equal to complicated tax laws. We are not going to attempt to decipher it within this article. What we do want to convey is that if your child must attend a school that is not up to standards, there are steps you can take. To find out if your child qualifies to receive supplemental educational services, contact the school or the school district, and ask for the person(s) in charge of choice and supplemental services programs.
You can also go to http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ for a list of schools in need of improvement and approved supplemental educational services providers. If you have difficulty finding these lists, call the U.S. Department of Education at 1.888.814.6252 for help in reaching your Georgia contact, or go to the U.S. Department of Education’s Web site at ed.gov. #
Also check out our article on finding “The Best Private School for Your Child.”