What do you look for in a school? As I parent, and an Educational Consultant, I think about this as much as you do. When my kids were in school, I kept a notebook of things my children liked and did not like about their school experience. I watched their anxiety level, and their stress levels, and I wrote it all done. That’s how I discovered my daughter had severe test anxiety. In understanding this I was able to work with her teachers and ease that anxiety during assessments. For my son, it was socialization, learning proper responses and being able to read facial queues and body language.
From all of that, I go back to my question of what do you look for in a school? For me it was the following:
● Dedication of Staff – I will take a dedicated staff member over a certified teacher with a Master’s Degree any day; and in the past I have been lucky enough to have both. A dedicated staff member will go above and beyond to find a method of teaching that works for your child. A dedicated staff member will answer your 101 emails and put you at ease. A dedicated staff member has the same goals as you do. My biggest sense of pride when I owned and ran Hayden’s Way is that we had a dedicated staff. Those women added, searched, and gave more than any other teachers I knew. They were creative, intuitive, knowledgeable, and above all dedicated. They were dedicated to the school, the students, and the parents.
● Curriculum – I want a mixture of curriculum that guides the students through their learning, and I want a variety of choices, because not every curriculum works for every child. A school needs to be able to give your child options, and I don’t care if it’s written by the Mennonites, who by the way have the best grammar book out there, or the Director of the DOE herself. I just want it clear, concise and thorough, and I want it to work for my child.
● Socialization – Let’s be honest – we all want our kids to have friends, go to parties, and have a social life. The one thing we had at Hayden’s Way was a code of conduct. This code of conduct gave ownership to the students and created empathy and responsibility. We helped our students understand that we are all different, and to respect those differences in one another. Socialization is another reason that field trips are so important. Field trips offer an educational and fun social outing for students. It creates opportunities to impart to them proper social skills. I know as parents we all try and teach this social understanding to our children, but sometimes we can start to sound like the teacher in a Charlie Brown cartoon. It’s good to have outside reinforcements to explain how their actions affect others, and to teach them how to approach a new friend. So look for a school that has a good set of ethics code and will work with you and your child to heighten their social ability.
Get in the habit of journaling what did and did not work for your child this year. Take notes on their anxiety and stresses, and work with your teachers and administrators to setup an environment to succeed for your child.
And if you need help finding the right school for your child contact me. It’s what I do!
Lei Rhyne, M.Ed.
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