Selecting the right Kindergarten/elementary school for my son is vital to me. I want to set up my son for success, and I want him to receive a more enriched educational experience than I did. I knew finding the right school would entail a lot of planning and research, so to help myself in the process, I created a five step action plan that I’d like to share with you.
1. Make a list of what we are looking for in a school. *Note: Put careful thought into this list and only jot down the things that matter to you and your family. The more detailed you are with this list, the better it will serve you in your search.
- Equity: I want the school to offer its students diverse educational opportunities.
- Diversity: I would like the school to be ethnically diverse, I think this helps our children grow.
- Great Teachers: I want teachers who are qualified, who are passionate about helping our children grow, and teachers who hold our children to high standards both morally and intellectually.
- Teacher Accountability: I think this is a good topic to discuss with a principal. How if so, do they hold teachers accountable?
- Class size: What is the student-teacher ratio?
- Effective lessons: Every teacher can lecture and assign you work but how effective are their lectures, their ability to engage the students, and the homework they assign? And are the lessons and homework challenging our children and at grade level?
- Test Scores: What are the school’s test scores in comparison to other schools?
2. Begin your internet research.
- Round up the top schools in our neighborhood. greatschools.org
- Read the information that greatschools.org provides on each.
- Visit each school’s official website to learn more about them, their enrollment guidelines, and of any important dates you must meet in order to apply.
- Talk to anyone I know who has children attending one of these schools, to get their opinion on the school.
3. Narrow your list and visit the schools that are still in the running.
- Have a list of questions ready to ask.
- Bring along the list of what you are looking for in a school to remind you what to look out for so that you can ask questions.
4. Make appointments to visit with the school principal if I you feel that it’s necessary.
- Again, have a list of questions ready to ask.
5. Make your choice. At this point, you should have enough information to make a confident and informed choice on an elementary school.
Overall, I want a school that focuses on developing a child’s character just as much as it focuses on education. I’m interested in how the teachers talk to and treat our children. I want to know about their disciplinary approach. Do the teachers focus on manners and is there a high emphasis on being kind? At age five, I think it’s more important to work on the type of person they are, how they treat others, and how they perceive the world. And therefore the school’s staff, its principal, and even the existing students attending the school will be one of my biggest deciding factors. Once our school is selected because the school can’t do it all alone, here are a couple more action steps that I’ll do as part of my commitment to help my son succeed.
6. Write out an action plan in regards to our school routine.
- How will things flow once my son is in school?
- Set up a Monday-Friday routine so my son knows what to expect.
- Work on developing good habits from day one.
- Get home, put things away in an assigned area, eat, and start homework.
- Set a fixed time to shower, pick out a school outfit for the following day, read a bedtime story, and go to sleep.
- In the morning, wake him up with enough time to ease into the day, get dressed, washed up, eat breakfast, grab his belongings, and head off.
7. Speak to all family members and make a list of what we have to do as a family, in order to help my son stick to this routine.
- Let everyone know the routine so everyone can encourage it and abide by it.
- Set cutoff times for certain activities and foods that will hype him up and make it hard for him to begin his bedtime routine or go to sleep.
- Limit the things I do in the morning. Pick out my own outfit, iron, pack my lunch, and do whatever else is needed at night, so I am not rushing in the morning and adding unnecessary stress to my son’s morning.
- Plan our weekends efficiently so we can eliminate the extra trips we have to take during the week which can deviate a child from their school day routine.
- Be engaged. Certain things can wait, but our children need us now. The happier, safer, and more supported our children feel at home the better they will do in school.
I know our evenings and mornings won’t be perfect; I know this going in and I’m okay with that. I’m just going to do my best to stick to a simple routine Monday through Friday, a routine that will undoubtedly serve my son well and put him in a better position to enjoy school, learning, and life at home with the family.
Monica Luna Gonzalez
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