As a parent, you’re faced with a long list of difficult decisions. Do you want to live in the suburbs or move closer to your job in the city? Do you want to pursue a full-time career or become a stay-at-home parent? But no decision has more impact on your child’s future than choosing their school. If you make the right choice, your child is more likely to socialize with like-minded people and succeed academically, which can improve their chances of getting into a good university. No wonder parents spend a lot of time deciding where to live.
There are other factors you have to consider as well. For starters, you can choose from private, public, and charter high schools. There are also schools that specialize in religious, arts, or STEM education. Some parents also want a school that can cater to students with special needs. All this choice is good, but it can also make the decision-making process more difficult.
We all want what’s best for our child, which is why we spend a lot of time and resources on choosing the best environment for them. Here are a few things you might want to bear in mind when selecting a school:
- Teacher quality
Even if the school spent millions of dollars on state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, and gyms, it won’t make any difference without a highly competent faculty in place. A football stadium or a swimming pool is nice to have, but it won’t have any effect on the quality of education. The number one factor that affects a school’s quality is the teachers.
The right teacher can foster creativity, responsibility, and a love for learning in students. Meanwhile, students with an unengaging or unconcerned teacher are more likely to fail academically. You need to make sure that you choose a school with a reputation for academic success. Ask to meet with some of the faculty to see if they have a passion for teaching. Talk to other parents and ask for their opinions.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a good list of schools to choose from, you also might want to inquire about the diversity and educational background of the teaching staff. Your child will benefit from early exposure to a variety of cultures and backgrounds.
- Class sizes
There is evidence to suggest that small classroom sizes result in better relationships between students and teachers and improved academic performance. According to the Student Teacher Achievement Ratio, considered to be the most influential study in classroom sizes, students that were placed in a small class were academically a semester ahead of their peers.
Average class sizes differ from county to county, but the nationwide average is 20 students to a classroom. If you want your child to enjoy the benefits of a smaller class size look for a school with a ratio of one teacher for every 10 to 15 students. Your child will receive more attention from teachers if they don’t have to compete as much with other students.
- Subject and extracurricular options
As your child grows, their brain undergoes multiple periods of explosive growth. The brain has to find ways to keep itself efficient while allowing for the absorption and retention of new complex information. This process is called synaptic pruning. Information that hasn’t been used for a long time will eventually be lost, which is why it’s important to expose your child to as many subjects and extracurricular activities as possible.
We live in a world that values specialization, but the only way your child can narrow their interests is if they have been sufficiently exposed to a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures, activities, and topics. By allowing your child to choose their path in life, they are more likely to succeed in college and be happy about their career choice.
Kindergarten to 12th grade is one of the most important periods in a person’s life. During this time, they learn critical skills, form lifelong habits, absorb values that shape their worldview, and learn to make the right decisions.
The right environment can set your child up for success, while the wrong one can lead to a life of challenges. It’s up to you to decide what the best school looks like, but always remember that the consequences of your choice will last for a lifetime.