How do I find a school that is right for my child?
Today we are so desperate here in New York City, to get our child into school, private or public, we often forget that some schools are just not the right choice for our children. I'll never forget a mother, whose children attended the very non-pretentious, home daycare that my children attended was very vocal about her dilemma about where she should send her son to school. He was accepted into a very small, progressive lab school on the upper West Side as well as a dual language, G&T program. finally one day as we were about to pick up kids at daycare she said to me in an extremely stressed out tone of voice "What's better public or private school?". Growing up in New York City Public schools from kindergarten-12th grade and teaching for and working with the system for 10 years, I understood the pro's and cons of the public school choice. I said to her, you're a good parent, a smart parent. The choice is not about public or private, the question has to be about who do you think will serve your child the best at this time in his life and possible for years to come? Look at your kid, look at the schools. Can they offer what your son needs? If the teaching practices radical or cutting edge, will your child be able to handle it? Does your child need structure or more laid back? Can you reflect the philosophy of the school in your home? Can you reflect your home in the school? Can you afford the private school or will you be applying for financial assistance?
In the end no one, not even you, the parent has a crystal ball. I know parents who sent their kids to a K-8 school thinking they were "safe" from applying to Middle School. After 4th grade their kids were miserable and had to be taken out. They endured the nerve-racking middle school application process and are now waiting on pins and needles to hear which school they will attend in the fall. When you buy into a school you buy into many different people, with different personalities, and with different temperaments. You buy into a philosophy, an administration , a group of teachers, a group of students and a group of parents. It is elementary (no pun intended) to believe that your child or you, will be satisfied every year with each one the components. Administrators, teachers, PTA presidents can all leave and be replaced and there is never a guarantee that policies stay the same. So, use what you know about your child, yourself . It is all a gamble, much like the day you decided to have children!