1. What are the school’s mission, philosophy, and values? From Kindergarten through 8th grade, a student will spend over 10,000 hours in school! Considering this magnitude of influence, it is important to choose a school that reinforces the values that you are teaching and modeling at home. Thoughtfully consider the things that your family values most – faith, relationships, learning, health and fitness, serving others, etc. Now think of these things in the context of your child’s school experience and ask, “How will this school support and reinforce the things we as a family value most?” 2. Are the faculty qualified and committed to helping each student discover and achieve their unique potential? Teachers should not only be qualified by virtue of education and credentialing, but they should also possess a passion for teaching, a love for children, and a sense of calling to serve their students and their families. They should be involved in ongoing professional growth and demonstrate a desire to know each student in order to most effectively help him or her achieve their full potential. 3. Is this a school where my student can thrive? The one-size-fits-all concept simply doesn’t work when choosing a school. Just because a school is a good fit for one child doesn’t mean it is the best choice for another—even within the same family. Consider your child’s personality, learning style, interests, and academic capability when looking at school options. 4. How large are classes, and what is the teacher/pupil ratio? Class size is a key consideration in choosing a school. For some children, a small class size makes the difference between success and ongoing struggle. Fewer students means more focused attention toward teaching students and less time spent engaged in simply maintaining classroom order. 5. How does the environment support each child to achieve to their potential? If a school’s culture embraces the uniqueness of each child, believes in that child’s God-given purpose, strives to know and appreciate each student’s uniqueness, and creates a save, loving environment, a child is free to learn and grow to their potential. A visit to the school and conversations with current parents are effective ways to learn if the school’s culture creates this kind of environment for their students. 6. Is parent involvement encouraged? Studies show that students in schools with high parent involvement earn higher grades and test scores, attend school more regularly, have better social skills and like school more. High parent involvement helps maintain continuity between home and school and creates a relational community in which families feel a sense of belonging. 7. What extra-curricular opportunities are offered? Athletics programs, chess club, pottery class, and other activities apart from the regular school program allow students to explore various interests and learn new skills as well as build relationships with the other students they may not see during their regular school day. 8. What enrichment programs are part of the school curriculum? Programs such as PE, art, music, technology, and foreign language help develop well-rounded students and expose them to areas that may ultimately become careers or life-long interests.
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