Choosing a school for your child can be an overwhelming process, especially at the elementary school level, where the pressure to give your child the best start possible is intense. The broad range of teaching styles, programs, and facilities offered by private schools can leave parents feeling bogged down in the details. However, asking the right questions during your visit can highlight important differences between schools. Here are ten questions that will help you identify whether a school is right for your child.
The Academic Program
The central focus of most prospective parents is to determine whether a school’s academic priorities align with their own. You’ll find that every private school differs in its approach to educating students. At Fay, for example, our students start learning foreign languages in kindergarten, much earlier than many other elementary schools. Our Primary School students also participate in hands-on service learning opportunities as part of the academic program because we believe that no child is too young to begin the journey to becoming his or her best self. These questions will help clarify how well a school’s academic priorities fit with your own:
- What academic skills and abilities will my child develop at your school that they won’t get in their current school?
- How does your school support individual students’ academic needs?
- What opportunities are there for learning a second language?
- What kinds of community service opportunities do your students have over the course of the year?
A Well-Rounded Experience
Whether your child is interested in sports, art, theater, robotics, or something completely different, determining how well your child’s passions will be supported within a new school environment is also important. At Fay, for example, our interscholastic athletics program begins in fifth grade and is designed to accommodate beginners who want to try out a sport for the first time as well as highly accomplished athletes. Ask the following questions to discover what opportunities your child will have to pursue their passions and interests:
- What opportunities exist for students who want to try new sports and activities? How do you support students who already compete and perform at a high level?
- What programs do you offer in the visual arts, music, drama, and dance?
The Right Fit
Finally, your child’s happiness is central to this process. Will your child feel valued and appreciated as a member of this new school community? At Fay, for example, we emphasize civility and good manners - and visitors are often surprised to have a door held open for them by a young student or to see that our students are as comfortable greeting and talking to adults as they are talking with one another.
- How would you describe the manners and behavioral expectations for your students?
- How do you help children build confidence, learn self-advocacy, and practice conflict resolution?
- How does lunch work at your school? What is your approach to nutrition and meal preparation?
- How does your school support and develop the emotional well-being of its students?