Dear Responsible and Loving Parents,
Every year, parents send their children off to their first day of school. We’ve all seen the vision of the mother, crying and waving as her little one flaps its wings for the first time. The moment your child sets foot in school, without you at their side, can be an extremely difficult thing to face. This is made significantly easier if you know for certain that where your child is spending their days is the best place for them. That’s why ensuring your decision-making process regarding enrollment is thorough, well-researched, and centered around your child’s welfare is utterly invaluable. Below, a deep dive into the process of choosing your child’s school is meant to take some of the burden off of your shoulders, and hopefully set them up for life-long improvement.
Pre-School & Daycare
Don’t settle for mediocre child care at this crucial point of your child’s development. The pre-school years, which roughly span from three to five years of age, can shape the foundations of how your child relates to other people and the world in general. Children learn how to communicate and cooperate with others at this stage of life, and spending it in the wrong environment can lead to some unwanted subconscious beliefs. Many children grow up with deficient social skills and a lack of confidence that stems from their sub-par pre-school education. Only you can protect your child at this stage, and being picky about where to enroll them is one way to do it.
There are some truly amazing pre-schools out there, with various areas of focus. One example is the Seneca Village Montessori School in Brooklyn, New York. Seneca Village specializes in an Afro-centric cultural school model, emphasizing pride in one’s self, community, and heritage. This pre-school (and daycare too!) is passionate and dedicated to fostering the innate creativity and artistic imagination of the child, and inspiring acceptance of one’s self and others.
It’s very important to intimately know which pre-school or daycare your child is attending, the people who work there, and what a typical day for your child looks like. Don’t forget that there are many, many options of pre-schools to choose from. Make sure that the teacher or care provider that is in daily contact with your child is responsible, communicative with you, and most importantly wishes the best for your child. Don’t be afraid to set up a meeting with this person, as it is your child’s welfare that may be at stake.
Consider Your Child’s Unique, Personal Needs
What are your child’s strengths? Are there things that your child is passionate about, or perhaps innately gifted at? By choosing a school that compliments and develops your child’s interests and personality, you can help them to gain mastery over what is important to them, while not wasting any of their time with learning things that, ultimately, won’t help them further their aspirations. Brooklyn Montessori Seneca Village Montessori School offers all of that and more in terms of your child’s overall development.
Be sure to notice how your child learns best, (audio, visual, kinesthetic, written, etc.) and bring this information to your child’s educators. Open communication between you and your child’s educators or care providers makes a world of a difference in your child’s life, by crafting a unified network of supporting individuals.
Does your child thrive with an orderly and scheduled environment, where reliability and logic are highly prized? Or does your child live to be wild, recreating their environment in their own way? Studies have shown that providing your child with a set of rules and institutions that lean into the disposition of their thought process improves their self-confidence, motivation to excel, and overall level of engagement.
Every child has a personality, with tendencies, interests, quirks, and needs. Does the school you’re considering seem to have a peer group for your child that would help to nurture your child’s personality? The friends of childhood may all one day be forgotten, but the patterns of behavior developed with them can be life-long.
Consider what sort of extra-curriculars are offered by the school, if any. Talk with your child about what excites them, and see if it gains your parenting stamp of approval. Extra-curricular activities are famously known to bring joy, friendship, and achievement to the students who love them.
A final thing to consider about your child’s needs is one that you may not have thought much about. Homework! In this regard, school districts make most of the decisions about how much homework a student is required to complete. Take a moment to consider how your child’s work-load will affect them. No one wants a child to lack the value of hard work and meeting deadlines, but on the flip side, no one wants to see a child missing out on their childhood trapped under mountains of work.
Consider your Family’s Collective Needs
Picking out the greatest school in the world won’t help you if it’s out of your price-range. While many schools have low-to-no cost to attend, some can be pricey, and supplies needed can put quite a bit of pressure on one’s bank account. Be sure to evaluate and determine what price-range is economically feasible.
Choosing a school, and then realizing you can’t actually physically get your child there can be crushing if your hopes have been set on a particular school. Find what can work for you and your family’s schedule to ensure your child is seated at their desk everyday safely.
Don’t forget to check out the school’s cafeteria! Some schools serve some pretty nasty stuff, and children need adequate nutrition to grow and develop properly.
A further thing to note is how long the school year is. Most schools stick to the traditional summers-off approach, though there a few in the U.S. now that are in session all year long. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, so choose wisely.
A less talked about consideration focuses on the security of your child. What measures does your school have in place to ensure the safety of the children? Be realistic about potential threats, and realize that not every situation can be prevented with 100% certainty, but you should be able to feel confident in your child’s safety while they’re at school.
One of the most important aspects of choosing a school has to do with your family’s morals and system of values. Each family is its own micro-culture, knit together with common beliefs, viewpoints, and interests. Finding a school that maintains a similar climate, or at the very least doesn’t openly oppose your family’s traditions or philosophy, is one surefire way to nip all sorts of unwanted behaviors in the bud.
There are so many things to consider, and so many choices to choose from that it can get pretty overwhelming. Don’t fear, just take it a step at a time. Your child is worth the effort.