Surviving School Searches
There you are; Sweating, nervous, stressing. Some say this is the most important parenting decision that you will make in your child’s young life, others say it’s no big deal. Ummmmm, not helpful friends. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks because it must be done. It’s time. Time to find a school. Maybe it’s your first time or maybe it’s a move to a new school, either way you’re freaking out. How do you know what will be best? How will you find the right fit? There are so many different KINDS of schools, how will you know what will make you and your kids happy? It just feels like such a responsibility. Why did I become a parent??? This is too HARD!!! It feels overwhelming and I’m here to help ya with a few ways to make it all a little easier. All you need is a plan and a few slick sleuthing skills (God I love alliteration ❤❤❤) and you’ll get all of the info that you need to make the best choice for you and your child.
Go In With A List
Planning is KEY. Look, let’s be honest here, it can be hard enough to remember what you need at CVS let alone what questions you have during a school tour. There’s so much to look at, so much info coming at you, you’re a little nervous, you’re out of your element, it can be a lot. Also it’s a school so it is not the quietest of places which can make your brain rattle if you’re not used to all of the loud and chaos and bodies moving around all over the place. Ya, gotta bring a list of all of your questions and thoughts. It’s also so important to ASK the questions, bringing them is not enough. Of course that seems obvious but some can be intimidated by the experience or by the person leading the tour and forgo the questions. ASK THEM. When parents come and visit my classroom I ask if they have questions. I give them my email so that they can ask the ones that pop up later on. This is your child and your thoughts, feelings and questions and all need to be taken seriously. Need a few question ideas? Here ya go…
Ask About Discipline
Time Out? Going to the office? Ignoring behaviors? Charts? Stoplights??? How DOES the school discipline? Does the schools discipline methods jive with yours? Would you use the same method at home? Do you believe in their ways of dealing with unwanted behaviors? Ask how and why their form of discipline works? What kind of behaviors do teachers believe in disciplining?
Ok, so this seems simple, right. When someone does something wrong there is a consequence. BAM! BUUUUT how discipline is implemented will have a huge impact on your child’s day. So, it’s NOT so simple. Discipline, in it’s best form, teaches life lessons, it helps to change unsafe behaviors and puts safer ones in place. How discipline is handled is the difference between behavior changes and resentment. If discipline is delivered in embarrassing, demeaning or overly harsh ways, the behavior MAY change but it will also effect a child’s view of school, themselves, and adults in general. Discipline that’s delivered in ways that teach life lessons such as how to express oneself without hitting or screaming, taking responsibility for ones choices, respecting other peoples work, that’s the kind of discipline that you are looking for. So ask, be bold, illicit examples. What happens if someone hits? Is unkind? Doesn’t want to clean up? Be sure to get the answers. Be sure that they are clear answers and that you understand fully. Your child will be spending anywhere from a few to 40 or so hours a week there. Asking about discipline is one way to be sure that it’s the right place for them and you.
What Is The Schools Philosophy?
You want a place that knows who they are and what they strive for. What they will be expecting from your child and what they will teach them needs to be top of mind for teachers and staff. What’s most important to the school? Academics? Conformity? Individuality? Teamwork? Freedom? Be sure that whatever it is happens to be in line with what YOU think is important. Take note if the school doesn’t seem to have a philosophy, “Ummm, we talk about colors and teach letters. We help kids learn. They play” That’s kinda vague. Go even deeper. How do they see their role in a child’s day? What strengths and wisdom do they want to send their kids into the world with? Does the staff seem excited about the philosophy? Ask how they implement said philosophy. Remember, take notes on the responses and take note of how you feel when you hear them.
This is a teacher secret here. When you go to visit a school the teachers will be at the top of their game on their very best behavior. They will be more attentive, there will be little to no disciplining or anything that would be tantrum inducing (unless you visit my class, we keep it real). Ok, so this doesn’t happen everywhere but I have been around long enough to know that it happens in many places and why wouldn’t it? The school is trying to sell it’s product. There’s nothing wrong that. In the end it IS a business. I want to be clear, discipline or tantrums, both are everyday occurrences in a school and that’s fine but they rarely happen in a classroom with visitors. So what can you do to get the real scoop? Get ta sleuthing.
As you walk around, listen in on and take a peak into rooms that are not expecting you. There is nothing wrong with wanting to see multiple classrooms. How do things flow in the rooms? Are the teachers involved? Are they screaming at the kids? Are they giggling with the children? Do the teachers look happy to be there? You want to get the best view of their day-to-day as you can.
How Does It Feel?
How do you feel when you walk in? Excited? Happy? Stressed? Sad? Do YOU wanna go to school there? Would YOU wanna spend most of your week there? Were your questions thoughtfully answered? Did you feel heard and understood? It’s important that you feel comfortable. You are giving your most prized, well, umm, thing in your life to people that you don’t know. You MUST feel comfortable. If you’re feeling rushed, if you’re made to feel like your questions are too much, move on.
Finding a school can be a stressful endeavor but it doesn’t have to be toooooo bad. Be prepared, be bold, ask questions, and trust your gut and remember if the school that you choose is not the right fit you can always move on.