Choosing a school for a child is a big decision for the whole family. Not only does a school need to match up favorably with a child, it also needs to fit within the goals and functions of the family. All families have priorities about what is important for their own growth and prosperity. Identifying those priorities and finding a situation where a school will fit within that structure will allow families to grow in the way that is best for them.
Generally, there are four ingredients that help determine how a family will fit with a particular school. They are: what your child learns, how your child learns, social issues,and practical matters.
What the child learns in school is of the utmost importance in giving them a formal education. The level of difficulty as well as the subject matter being taught must fit into the family’s values and educational expectations that they aspire to. Maybe parents would like their child to attend a highly academic school because of the level of difficulty, or attend a religious school because of the moral content which will be taught, or desire an education that is diversified in its subject matter.
How a child learns reflects the family’s interest in the teaching methods, philosophy and classroom management incorporated by a school. Some parents want a traditional, disciplined environment both in class and outside of class, while others may desire a more informal setting.
Social issues concerns how parents want to fit in with the school’s community. Do parents want to be closely involved by volunteering on a weekly basis and if not, do they mind if other parents do so? Some schools may want parents to be highly involved either inside or outside of the classroom while other schools would prefer parents only help with fundraisers.
Practical matters refers to all the logistics involved in sending a child to school. After school programs, transportation, location, other children’s education, and financial considerations. If both parents are working, transportation, location and after-school programs may be very important.
Which aspects of these four ingredients are most mportant for the family? And which are important for the child? Some of the family’s needs will come into conflict with the child’s needs and that’s okay. The world isn’t a perfect one and there are always ways to find a solution. Families can mix and match in order to have their priorities met. Maybe there is a carpool for transportation needs, or maybe enrollment in dance and drama classes after school fulfills the parent’s desire for refinement, or after-school art classes and parent-child afternoon time will relieve the need for child exploration and discovery. With an open mind there are many ways to accomplish the educational, moral, and character goals that parents have for their children. And what may be great for one child isn’t as productive for another.
What can’t be accommodated at home will probably be the most important issues for the family. But parents must remember that the whole family has needs and unless those needs are met, the whole family won’t function as a striving, supporting, and close knit unit. Parents have the intuition and good sense to know what’s best and can balance all the factors.