5 Tips for Successfully Navigating your School Search

Today’s guest blog is by Laura Gradman, founder of Chicago Preschool Pro.

As a mom, September is one of my busiest months of the year.  It’s back to school, back to activities, carpools, homework and early bedtime.  And if you’re the parent of a toddler, September could mean that it’s also admissions season.  Finding the right school for your child can feel equally exciting and stressful.  If your child is someone who has special needs, that stress multiplies.  Here are my top tips for keeping it simple, staying focused, and finding success in your school search.

 Tips for a successful school search:

  • Do your research to learn your options.  It sounds simple enough, but research can be time consuming and confusing.  In order to stay in the right mindset, streamline your process.  The most important part of any school’s website is their mission statement.  Once you have read that, you should have a good idea of whether or not further research is worth your time.
  •  Understand the lingo.  Philosophies of education are what dictate the way a school program is run.  They are an indicator of everything from how teachers will interact with your child to how they handle discipline.  Gaining an understanding of the lingo used to explain these philosophies is paramount in understanding what your child’s school experience will be like.
  • Consider your child.  As you gain an understanding of what each different educational philosophy means, the next step is to try to picture your child in the various environments.  Don’t forget to take note of the physical space, options for outdoor play, student: teacher ratio and services provided.
  • Ask the right questions.  As you navigate your school search, remember that you are an educated consumer.  Take advantage of school tours to gain useful information and ask any unanswered questions.  Questions about a typical day, food service provider, drop off/pick up routines, security procedures, hours of operation and accreditation are all pertinent.  Additionally, if your child benefits from an aid or has therapists who visit him/her throughout the day, find out how the school can accommodate these needs.
  • Be open to educating the school about your child.  No one knows your child like you do.  In order to prevent any misperceptions, come prepared to share helpful information with the school so that they may develop an accurate understanding of your needs and the needs of your child.  Assessments from professionals who know and understand your child are always useful in facilitating this process.

Find Laura at chicagopreschoolpro.com.  She can also be reached at 312.933.3985 or laura@chicagopreschoolpro.com.